The delicious bajra rotis are a storehouse of nutrition. In English, Bajra is called pearl millet, which is one of the most common millets available. Rich in fiber, proteins and essential minerals, pearl millet flour is a healthy gluten-free alternative to wheat.
While Bajre ki roti is a traditional Rajasthani dish, it is very popular all over North India and now because of its plenty of health benefits, pearl millet and other millets are frequently used in place of wheat even outside of India. Check out my ongoing glossary, for names of different types of millets in Hindi and English.
Why Bajra? Health benefits of Bajra/ Pearl Millet
- Bajra or pearl millet is fiber-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 realized 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 every day was not working out. Also, I like to use 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 health benefits of millets 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. Once in a while, I enjoy a plain paratha and we still have an occasional pasta, burger, and cookie but mostly 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 flour roti is not as easy as rolling a wheat flour 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. Finally, I figured out how to roll bajra roti! 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 it is easier to transfer the roti to the pan.
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.
The best side dish for bajra roti is jaggery or gud. Smear the hot bajra roti with ghee and eat it with a little jaggery. That’s the rustic, Indian village-style lunch. I like to pair it with some homemade yogurt raita or a simple kadhi recipe.
If you like this recipe, please take a moment to rate it and/or leave your feedback in comments. It will really encourage me to keep exploring, learning and improving.
How to make Bajra roti
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 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) and cover with a damp cloth.
- For each bajre ki roti, take one ball of dough and roll it out gently, between two sheets of food grade plastic, to as round a shape as you can get! 🙂 [check the image in post above]
- 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 and/ or pakoda kadhi.
Another popular winter Bajra flour recipe is a warm drink called Bajra raab which is made by roasting bajra with ghee and warm spices like ginger.
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. I am also very new in exploring millets as the grain of choice. Here are a few healthy millet recipes that I cook very often. As I learn more, I will continue to share more in this space.
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