Know your ragi mudde: The new health food is ragi. It’s the latest favourite to combat various lifestyle ailments such as diabetes or attention deficit disorder. The only problem is that no one knows what exactly to do with ragi, mixed in a cup of milk, it tastes, well, different. Take a tip from the Kannadiga farmers and make it into ragi balls, or ragi mudde as they call it. It’s easy enough, take one measure of ragi flour and mix it with some cold water to make a paste. Meanwhile, boil an equal quantity of water in a round-bottomed vessel, add a pinch of salt and, when the water starts to boil, add the ragi paste and stir briskly with a wooden ladle. The farmer’s wife uses a stick. Once it has left the sides of the vessel and formed one smooth ball, without any lumps, leave it to cool. Make into small balls, or mudde. These can be served with any kind of curry, but make sure that you toss the ragi to the back of the mouth and swallow it quickly. Never bite the mudde. You will need a ragi tooth scraper to get the mudde off your front teeth. The Kannadiga farmer’s wife uses a steel comb.
In Gandhi’s footsteps:Before organic food, the best place to get desi honey and other organic foods was the Khadi Gramodyog. This is because the need to provide a healthy and cheap alternative diet for the masses was always on Gandhi’s mind. Amongst the very many suggestions he made was to serve unpolished rice with Gongura chutney, a favourite with the people of Andhra, thin buttermilk, a sliver of lime and a handful of peanuts, with jaggery. The food counters still exist at the Khadi Gramodyog.
Sunday shandy: For those who think that going organic is only for the rich, there are regular farmer’s shandies that take place in different parts of the city. One rumour that we have heard from these places is that the farmers themselves have long realized the folly of using too much artificial fertilizers and pesticides. They apparently keep the unpolluted grain that they grow only for their own consumption. If this is correct, there is hope yet in these fields of ragi, millet and brown rice.
Calling grannies:The most successful food venture currently is a book on vegetarian recipes from Andhra Pradesh, entitled Cooking with Pedatha, a charming grey-haired granny, who recommends that all her recipes taste better when mashed with the fingers, and served by hand, by the cook, herself. Written by Jigyasa Giri and Prathiba Jain, the success of the simple recipes that were given to them by Pedatha, daughter of former president of India, V.V. Giri, have launched them into a new line. They are looking for other grannies and grand-aunts who have a wealth of local knowledge about foods and their making and preservation. For the moment, only vegetarian grannies need apply.