Ragi – Millet, Nachni, Sattemavu, Ragi Flour

RAGI…

Ragi … also known as millet, nachni, sollu, or sattemavu … is a wonder grain. It is an annual plant widely grown as a cereal in the arid areas of Africa and Asia. India is a major cultivator of Ragi, also known as finger millet. Finger millet is especially valuable as it contains the amino acid methionine, which is lacking in the diets of hundreds of millions of the poor who live on starchy staples such as cassava, plantain, polished rice, or maize meal. Finger millet can be ground and cooked into cakes, puddings or porridge. Ragi flour is made into flatbreads, including thick, leavened dosa and thinner, unleavened roti. Ragi grain is malted and the grains are ground. This ground flour is consumed mixed with milk, boiled water or yoghurt. It is the staple diet of majority of Kannadigas, especially in the rural areas. The mudde which is prepared by cooking Ragi flour with water to achieve dough like consistency is then rolled into ‘balls’ of desired size and consumed. In Andhra Pradesh Ragi Sankati (Telugu), which are ragi balls are eaten in the morning with a chilli, onions, sambar (lentil based stew) or meat curry and helps them sustain throughout the whole day.  Ragi crop grows well without irrigation, pesticides or fertilisers. It is rich in calcium iron, protein and some rare nutrients such as methionine, and digests easily from infancy through old age, and its nutrients are highly absorbed. Continue reading

Fennel – Fennel Seeds, Foeniculum Vulgare Miller

FENNEL

Fennel seeds are very rich in minerals. Fennel, bearing the scientific name Foeniculum Vulgare Miller, is widely used around the world in mouth fresheners, toothpastes, desserts, antacids and for culinary purpose. Fennel seeds are actually a spice, although the leaves, stalks and roots of the plant are known as herb.  Apart from these uses of fennel, there are numerous medicinal uses and health benefits. It is a common practice, particularly in Indian Subcontinent, to chew fennel seeds after meals. This is done to facilitate digestion and to keep bad breath away.

Fennel seeds bittersweet, with a minty taste. Fennel is high in vitamins and antioxidants and has several health benefits. Fennel may improve digestion and reduce stomach distress. Chewing fennel seeds to release the essential oils may improve breath and stimulate the digestive process. It also stimulates secretion of digestive and gastric juices reduce inflammation of stomach and intestine and helps in proper absorption of nutrients from the food. Fennel can also improve constipation and relieve diarrhoea. Fennel can act as an expectorant for those suffering from the common cold. Fennel is high in vitamins C, B3, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Consumption of these vitamins and minerals may boost the immune system and improve overall health.

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Cumin – Cumin Seeds, Cuminum Cyminum

CUMIN

Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. Cumin seeds resemble caraway seeds, being oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in colour. Cumin’s distinctive flavour and strong, warm aroma are due to its essential oil content. Its main constituent and important aroma compound is cuminaldehyde. Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to India. The seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form. It is a key component of curry powder. Both whole and ground cumin are available year-round. One teaspoon of cumin approximately contains 15.5% iron, 7% manganese, 3.9% calcium. When it comes to health benefits, the cumin seeds are great. Cumin seeds, whose scientific name is Cuminum cyminum, are an excellent source of iron. Iron is an integral component of haemoglobin. Research has shown that cumin may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation. Cumin’s unique flavour complexity has made it an integral spice in the cuisines of Mexico, India and the Middle East. Continue reading

Ajwain – Strongly Pungent, Assertive and Aromatic Spice

AJWAIN….

Ajwain, commonly known as ajowan, bishop’s weed, ajowan caraway, carom seeds, or thymol seeds, is a plant of India, Pakistan and the Near East whose seeds are used as a spice. This beneficial herb is used in culinary process as spice as well as a major ingredient of different kind of medicines. Ajwain seeds are small in size but taste hot, penchant and bitter. It acts as good appetizer, laxative and stomachic. It is used as effective remedy in managing ailments like vomiting, mouth diseases, pile, treatment of ascites, abdominal tumor, abdominal pain etc. They are strongly pungent and aromatic. Ajwain seeds are rich in fibre, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Ajwain seeds consist of moisture, protein, fat, minerals, fibre, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. The active principles in the ajwain may help increase the digestive function of the intestinal tract by increasing gut juices. Continue reading