Jun 04 2019
If you thought risotto, gnocchi, buns and pancakes are a sheer indulgence, you are wrong. These days, chefs are presenting a whole lot of high-calorie dishes with a ‘healthy’ twist. The dishes don’t ooze of regular ingredients like cheese or butter but are now being tossed up with humble millets — the forgotten tiny grains like ragi, jowar and bajra. These power-packed versatile grains are every chef’s muse presently. Reviving grandmothers’ recipes and presenting them with a creative twist is not only challenging for them but also touching their chord somewhere. It’s like stepping back in time and so nostalgic, they say.
Abhijit Naik, executive sous chef at The Leela Goa, recalls a dish of his childhood which his grandmother used to prepare. Nachni satva or ragi pudding is a traditional Goan dish which he had in plenty whenever he craved for something sweet after meals. His grandmother made sure she fed him due to its super nutritious properties. “I am serving nachni satva in my menu and preparing it with ragi flour, fresh coconut milk, jaggery, roasted cashew nut, cardamom and salt. It is very popular amongst the diners.”
Chef Abhijit also talks about sorghum, popularly known as jowar, which has been commonly used to make the local staple flat bread called bhakri in Maharashtra. He is offering the same but with a slight variation. He explains, “We have used the base of this bhakri to make open sandwiches with toppings like avocado salsa or even pistachio-coasted goat cheese or a Greek salad. I also like to sprinkle raw millet into cookies, muffins or quick breads for extra crunch.”
His love for millets does not end there. Taking inspiration from the traditional Maharashtrian dish of thalipeeth, he uses 80% millet flour and 20% refined flour to make steamed buns for dim sum special platters. “We will continue to experiment with finger millet to make the Goan speciality sanna, which is a spongy, steamed and savoury Goan cake.”
Rajinder Sareen, executive sous chef at Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, takes great pride in offering ragi idlis. Sorghum being his favourite, he loves to make chapatis out of it. He also offers millet khichdi on his menu. He says, “It is so light on the stomach and is perfect for diabetic sto have for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
Likewise, Manish Mehrotra, corporate chef, Indian Accent Restaurants, has curated ‘Indian Accent’ version of bajra khichdi, according to the location. He says, “We serve bajra khichdi with parmesan in New Delhi, with lamb in New York, and beef in our London restaurant. I am happy to add that it is an extremely popular dish on the menu of all three outposts.”
When it comes to innovation with humble grains, Chef Sareen’s millet muffins cannot be missed. “Millet is a delicious whole grain that is high in manganese and magnesium. Plus, when it’s baked into muffins, it adds a delicious crunch. By adding carrots and ginger to the mix, these little treats make for an incredibly healthy start to your day,” he explains.
Sandeep Kumar, executive chef, Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel, believes in infusing millets in dishes wherein it complements the original flavours of the dish. He says, “As a chef, I strive to infuse and utilise millets in different dishes to make use of its nutritional properties and provide our guests with a wholesome and nutrient- rich meal. What I have come to realise is that not everyone is fond of the taste of millets, hence I have infused this extremely beneficial grain in various food items that our guests would not hesitate to try. In this way, we create a win-win situation for them wherein they get the benefits of the grains and also enjoy the mouthwatering flavours.”
His favourite is pearl millets and he uses it extensively to make flour from which Indian breads are made. “It goes beautifully with yellow chickpea lentil and a spicy red chili chutney as an accompaniment,” he says.
When it comes to desserts, chef Sandeep’s famous ragi pancakes with berries, Coorg coffee-infused honey and raspberry compote are absolutely delightful. However, his innovative skills do not end with ragi pancakes. He likes his guests to try ragi mudde stuffed with ghee roast and beetroot tuille as his personal favourite.
He explains, “Ragi mudde or ragi ball is a very healthy staple from Karnataka. It is made using ragi flour or finger millet flour. It is a very basic dish served with spicy chicken curry. However, to add a twist to it, I like stuffing it with the popular ghee roast. I feel it gives the dish an additional kick. The health benefits of ragi and the rich flavour of the ghee roast, according to me, is the perfect combination.”
Pat comes the reply from chef
Sandeep: “From my studies and research on the topic, I
feel that the next big trend involving
the use of millets would be millet- infused drinks.” And that’s a story for another day.
Ingredients: Ragi flour 400 gm, water 200 ml, milk 200 ml, eggs 3 no, baking powder a pinch, palm jaggery 90 gm.
Method: Mix all the dry ingredients first in a mixing bowl and then add water, gradually while stirring and mixing well to avoid any lumps. Add eggs to the same and form a thick, semi-solid batter. Add milk the same way and mix until a smooth and thick batter is formed. On a buttered skillet, ladle a small portion of the batter and then spread lightly.
Accompaniments: The pancake can be served along with some locally inspired ingredients like coffee-infused honey from Coorg, jackfruit compote, or classics like maple syrup and crème fresh.
Original post on Deccan Herald