The delicious bajra roti is a storehouse of nutrition. They are healthy shift from the regular wheat rotis that most of us in India eat almost everyday.
Why Bajra? Health benefits of Bajra/ Pearl Millet
Bajra or pearl millet is fibre-rich, protein-rich and has essential minerals like magnesium, iron and phosphorous. It is naturally gluten-free and alkaline, so very soothing for the body. Because of their high nutrition profile, bajra and other millets can tackle many common illnesses like constipation, obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Bajra has complex carbohydrates which release energy slowly. As a result one feels fuller for a long time after a millet meal, making it a perfect grain for weight-loss diets.
We shifted to gluten-free grains because we realised gluten was causing the bulk of our digestion problems. We knew of rice and quinoa as gluten-free wheat alternatives. Rice is fine but quinoa is expensive in India. Using it everyday was not working out. Also, I want a variety of grains for everyday meals. Millets are perfect! Right around our little town of Udaipur, there are so many different types of millets crops. We easily connected with the farmers and now I buy trusted organic millets right from the source. Millets are still not very common in Indian households but awareness about their health benefits is slowly increasing.
Neither of us has gluten-allergy but just after 1 month of absolutely no gluten we could feel the difference in our bodies. It has been almost a year and at home we rarely cook with wheat. We still have that occasional pasta or burger or cookie but mostly when while traveling or eating out.
Cooking with Bajra Flour
But I really had to learn cooking with millets, especially millet flour rotis. Because it has no gluten, pearl millet flour doesn’t stick together well. As a result rolling a bajra roti is not as easy as rolling a wheat roti. Initially the dough would just stick to my rolling pin. I tried rolling it by just pressing with my fingers but then the roti was very thick and didn’t cook evenly. Even cooking it was different. Bajre ki roti needs to be cooked at a much lower heat to ensure even cooking. It took a lot of trial and error but now it is wonderful to see the lovely, earthy bajra rotis coming down the pan and disappearing in the stomach.
Did you know India is the largest producer of bajra or pearl millet? Maybe it is time that we start making it a regular part of our diet.
How to make Bajre ki Roti
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2 cups pearl millet flour (Bajra flour)
1 tsp salt
Ghee and Jaggery to serve
- Take Bajra flour in a bowl and mix in salt. Add hot water little by little and mix together with a spoon till all the flour is incorporated and you get a thick dough consistency. Leave it for 5 minutes till the bajra dough is cool enough to knead by hand. Knead it till it gets soft. If the dough is too sticky, that means there is more water than needed so add a little more flour. Likewise if it is too dry, add a little water. Like regular wheat dough, kneading the millet flour dough takes a bit of practice, so start with a small batch.
- Heat a tawa or flat pan on medium-low heat.
- Divide the dough into small balls (1.5”-2” diameter). For each bajre ki roti, take one ball of dough and roll it out gently to as round a shape as you can get! 🙂 For rolling, I cut open a food grade plastic bag and used it to roll each chapati. That way the bajra dough doesn’t stick to the rolling pin and the it is easier to transfer the roti to the tawa.
- Carefully transfer the chapati to a hot tawa/ pan and cook on both sides till it is cooked through (has brown spots on both sides).
- Smear with ghee and serve with jaggery or urad-chana dal.