I have to thank my helper lady for this wonderful recipe. She is from a village where hard labour used to be the order of the day and she was literally brought up on food like this. Even now, after moving to a city, she is very fond of this koozh and can survive on this for days together. She says this koozh is what keeps her going. I cannot but mention that she is a highly active, hard working woman even at the age of 65. This sums up how nutritious this koozh is.
Ok, what is fermentation?
When you ask this question to Google, it throws up a million answers. Here I have tried to simplify it for you. Fermentation is a process where molecules in food (such as sugar and carbohydrates) are broken down into carbon di oxide and other organic acids under anaerobic (absence of free oxygen) conditions. Fermentation can be called as a process where bacteria and yeast pre-digest your food, making it easy on your digestive system and also making the nutrition more readily available for your body to absorb. If you’re still trying to understand what fermentation is all about, it’s time to think of some examples of fermented food. Very common ones include curd (dahi), most pickles (not the store-bought variety), and idli-dosa batter (what do you think is happening when the batter rises – fermentation!).
Fermentation is a simple process which can be done by anyone, anywhere. In this case, to ferment for porridge, you just need a clean container with lid, and of course a bit of patience.:)
Keppai/ Ragi (Finger Millet) flour – 1 cup
Water –3 cups to cook porridge and 3/4 cup to make a runny paste
Salt – to taste
Cooked rice – a few spoons (optional)
Onions and green chilies – optional
Mix ragi with just enough water to make a runny paste and keep it closed for 12 – 24 hours for fermentation. After 12 – 24 hours, boil 3 cups of water separately and add the ragi paste, cooked rice(if using) and salt. Stir and cook until the ragi becomes soft and turns into a homogenous, thick mixture. The porridge thickens further on cooling. Now, this mixture is ready to consume immediately. You can also let it cool and keep it closed for 2- 3 days to facilitate further fermentation. To consume, take a portion of the mixture, add enough water or buttermilk to dilute to the consistency you need. You can also add chopped onions and green chilies.
*Cooked rice is traditionally added for texture. I too like the texture of this porridge with added cooked rice. Let me know how you like it.
Fermented porridges are quite common all across the globe. Each place has its own local ingredients (mostly grains) fermented and made into porridge. They offer many nutritional benefits and are also filling. The porridges are mostly made by soaking whole grains (broken/milled into flour) for up to 36 hours. This facilitates 1st level fermentation and then it is cooked. After cooking, the porridge is stored for fermentation up to 36 hours. Porridges are generally good for health and fermenting adds to the nutrition as well as makes it easily digestible. So, here are some fermented porridges from around the world:
Uji – A Kenyan fermented porridge using corn meal
Kishk – A fermented Arab dish made from wheat and milk
Nuruk – Made from whole wheat, rice or barley in Korea. It is used as a fermentation starter.
Koji – A Japanese fermented porridge made from glutinous rice, wheat and sometimes soybean to produce the starter culture which is used to ferment various other food products.
Fermented Oatmeal – Popular in Ireland and other countries where oatmeal is grown locally.
And our own ragi koozh.
Here are some links you can follow to know more about fermentation and fermented porridges:
Know Your Ingredient
Ragi (Finger Millet)
Ragi is a whole grain which is gluten free. It is widely used,and even considered a staple in some parts of south India. It is rich in fiber and packed with calcium, vitamin D and amino acids. It helps in controlling diabetes. It is a rich source of iron, making it a great food for those with anemia.
|How to Buy||If you are buying the grain,look for fresh, moisture free, insect free grain.
If you are buying the flour,check the date of packaging and buy the freshest pack.
|Storage||The flour can be stored for 3-4 months at normal temperature and if you are looking to store it for a longer period, you can freeze it.|