When I first spotted the Brown packet of Ragi Vermicelli in the supermarket, I had to stop myself from jumping up and down in elation! Out of all the glutenfree grains, Ragi was one of those that caused even my hubby to raise an eyebrow in disdain. What was that maroon lumpy mass he asked, worried that it was some science experiment gone wrong. No amount of coaxing would even bring my kids 6 feet close to Ragi Porridge. So, on seeing the 'RAGI vermicelli', there were endless light bulbs flashing in my head, with infinite combinations to put in place. I really felt like Einstein experiencing his eureka moment.
Ragi is considered a 'super cereal'. Here's why, it has high protein content, is a rich source of minerals, controls diabetes (ah, now you open your eyes!), has anti-cancer potential, reduces “bad” cholesterol, prevents cardiovascular disease, has anti-microbial properties, I'm stopping here since the list is endless. Move over Iron Man, Ragi is my all new powerful super hero!
The Ragi pack is dry vermicelli that you rinse with water (don't soak it please) and steam cooked to soften up. So once this part of it is done and prepped, it works as a side to any sauce like a pasta sauce, gravies/curries or just top it with an egg and you have a wonderful breakfast idea on your fingertips!
I just hated Upma as a kid and ran a mile when I saw it being served, I believe my sister was more forgiving. So here's my take on the staple Indian breakfast Upma with a healthier twist thanks to the glutenfree and nutrition dense Ragi. In my version I have avoided white potatoes, as per doctors orders, there are many of you who might be following this 'no white rice, no white sugar and no white potatoes' to control your sugar, B.P or cholesterol. Enjoy this Upma with a piping hot cup of coffee.
1 pack/ 2 cups steam-cooked RAGI Vermicelli
1 tsp each Chana dal and Urad dal (optional)
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
2 tsp each Cashewnuts and Peanuts (optional incase of nut allergy)
1 Onion chopped
2 Green chillies chopped
1/2 inch Ginger finely chopped
1 Carrot cubed small
4 1/2 cups Water
3 tblsp Oil
2 tblsp Ghee/ Cooking Oil
2-3 sprig Curry Leaves
Salt to taste
Heat oil and add chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they splutter, add peanuts and cashews. Fry till they turn golden brown. Add the carrots and onions and fry for 4-5 minutes. Now add the green chillies, ginger and salt, stir well until the raw smell goes. Cover and cook until the veggies are tender. Now add the pre-steamed RAGI vermicelli and mix it well to ensure they don't clump together. Cover with a lid for 5-6 minutes and turn off the flame. Serve hot with coconut chutney.
Tip- If you are planning this as a breakfast or lunchbox idea for kids, don't add the lentils or nuts and totally avoid the green chilies to make it more child friendly. You can also add sweet corn to make it more appealing.
Here's the version with sweet corn.