Buoyed by the response to my previous recipe on Ragi milk, I am making the most of the (momentary 😀 ) momentum I am in and quickly going on to jotting down the recipe of a very traditional and popular dessert that is made in Mangalore. I am a Mangalorean ‘in theory’, having never actually lived in Mangalore, since my father used to be transferred to different cities in India, every two years.
My connect with Mangalore has always been through relatives and short holidays. However, we did have a bit of Mangalorean cuisine cooking up our kitchen, peacefully coexisting with the local fare of the current land we were in and thus we were exposed to quite a few of the well known staples.
One such entity is this Ragi (Finger Millet) manni, a jelly (or even mousse or pudding if you will), kind of dessert that indulges your sweet tooth while being healthy at the same time. Not too many of those in this world eh ? 😀
So I have to tell you that I try to find ways of making things easier and while I have never seen manni being made or actually researched the traditional recipe, I have understood the general process by asking those who make it frequently. This method may not exactly follow the true traditional path but it works for me and is simple enough … and that is enough to please me 😀 Oh and it makes a delectable end product too.
Ragi is soaked and sprouted (as in the recipe for Ragi Milk) and it is then ground with coconut bits and water to a fine paste.
The paste is then passed through a muslin cloth or nylon sieve and the first (thick) milk. More water is added and the paste is ground again and strained again so as to obtain maximum possible milk out of it.
The residue can be dehydrated or frozen and used in other bakes. It can also be discarded or used as plant manure.
All the extracted milk is then poured into a heavy bottom vessel (kadai/wok) and heated. Be aware that Ragi milk starts setting very quickly. Within a couple of minutes, the milk will come to a boil, at which point the jaggery powder is to be added. I like my desserts barely sweet, so I use only a small quantity of jaggery. You can increase it if you want it sweeter. I also add some salt for extra flavor. Cardamom powder is usually added but I am happy without it and hence I avoid it.
(my kadai is an old seasoned one and hence the darkened color. Please make do with it until I redo the shot with prettier looking utensils 😀 … see that is why I should not be blogging. I have no patience to get it right first time !!! )
Within moments the entire mass will start coming together into a jelly like concoction which is still in a pourable state. The entire process right from lighting the gas, takes just 5 minutes (to give you an idea of time frames).
Keep plates handy, that are greased with ghee (or any neutral oil for vegan preferences). I use steel plates but any material will do. Pour the mixture into the plates and smoothen immediately. A lightly oiled silicon spatula works well for this.
Sprinkle dried organic rose petals, cashew nut bits and whatever else you want to use as ‘Manni decor’ 😀
Chill it in the fridge. It sets within an hour. You can slice and serve from the same plate or you can loosen the sides with a blunt knife and carefully demould onto another platter.
Recipe for Ragi Manni –
Prep time – 30 min (plus initial soaking and sprouting time of 16 hours)
Produces – 2 circular plates of 16 cm diameter and 1 cm height.
For manni –
Ragi (finger millet) grains – 100 gm (1/2 cup)
Fresh coconut bits – 100 gm (approx 1 cup)
Water – 1 cup (plus 2 cups)
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
Jaggery powder (I use organic) – 1/2 cup
For topping –
Cashew nut bits – 1 tablespoon
Dried organic rose petals – 1 teaspoon
For greasing the plates –
Oil (or melted ghee) – 1 teaspoon
- Wash the ragi grains well 2-3 times or till the water runs clear. Use a tea strainer while draining because the grains are very tiny and easy to lose.
- Soak the ragi in sufficient water and leave overnight or for 8 hours.
- Drain out all the water by passing through a strainer.
- Keep it in a covered container for 8 hours until tiny white sprouts appear. This step is optional but sprouting enhances the nutritive properties of the grain.
- Grind the ragi and coconut together to a paste using a mixer. Use 1 cup (standard baking cup measure) of water while grinding.
- When a fine paste is obtained, pass the mass through a muslin cloth or nylon sieve and squeeze out the milk well. You will obtain approximately 1 cup of thick milk.
- Return the residue to the mixer and use 2 more cups of water to grind and follow the same process. You will obtain approximately 2 more cups of thin milk.
- Grease 2 steel or ceramic plates and keep aside.
- Pour the 3 cups of milk into a heavy bottom kadi (wok). Note the time as you turn on the heat. Cook on high heat with constant stirring, till the mixture starts congealing. Approx 2 minutes. Use a silicon spatula for convenience.
- Add the salt and jaggery and continue stirring rapidly on high heat. You will see the mixture coming together and turning into a soft mass withing 3 more minutes. It will still be of pouring consistency.
- Switch off the heat and pour this into the prepared plates and smoothen with a greased spatula.
- Sprinkle the cashew bits and dried rose petals on top while the manni is still hot.
- After it comes to room temperature, place the plates in the fridge where the manni will set within an hour or two.
- This can also be made the previous day and left overnight to set in the fridge.
- The manni can be sliced and served from the plate or loosened with a blunt knife and demoulded onto another platter.