Ragi Idiyappam (Finger Millet Noddles) with thengai paal (sweetened coconut milk)

Ragi / Finger Millet are one of the oldest known foods to mankind. Have anyone of you seen a millet plant? (I can hear you say I can google it). For others who want to visualize, here I go. They look like small mushy grass with a sponge like green seeds towards the end. They are kind of rigid and hard.The maids who worked at my grandparent’s place have extremely thick lustrous locks of hair. I would sit and awe at the look of their hair – shiny, pitch black and healthy. Watching my expressionless face, my mom would announce her discovery that it’s because they eat organic grains straight from the field.  I don’t whether that was the reason but I have seen those girls bring home stalks of millet, roast it in direct heat, once cooled they will pull out the grains just like snapping the curry leaves off their stem and eat it just like that. Even I try to eat that way whenever we visit the fields.They are highly nutritious, gluten free and so easy to digest.


I feed my son “ragi kanji” made with flour of sprouted ragi for breakfast every other day. Ragi should be well cooked before feeding it to kids. I serve it with apple/banana puree for him. That was one of the semi-solid food I started out for my baby. Though I have eaten dishes made with ragi since childhood, there was for no reason I didn’t prepare it in the US. Then I re-created my relationship with it during my gestational diabetes period. Ragi breaks down to sugar very slowly and doesn’t spike your blood sugar drastically. It slowly works in your body and hence it’s a perfect ingredient for diabetic people to explore with.

When you bring home a packet of ragi flour from Indian stores you will find them have a smooth texture and a light brown shade. Once they get steamed or cooked, they will turn up a dark brown/mahogany shade. It is a versatile cereal which can be cooked in various forms.

 Did you know that finger millet has?
1. High content of iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium
2. Gluten free and whole grain
3. Has calcium content about 10 times more than rice or wheat
100 gms of finger millet has 344 grams of Calcium in comparison to rice (45 gms) and wheat (41grams). Also 100 grams of Ragi has close to 336 KCal of energy in them.
4. Has some key essential amino acids like tryptophan, lysine, valine.

Have I not convinced you to buy a packet of finger millet flour yet?

If not then take a look at a dish I made with finger millet flour (ragi maavu) – Ragi idiyappam served with thengai paal (creamy coconut milk sweetened with coconut palm sugar and flavorful crushed cardamon. Wondering what’s this coconut palm sugar all about? Then you must read my post on coconut palm sugar here? Also try my savory version (ragi sevai).

Eating a bowl of steamy idiyappam with thengai paal is an art to me. I would carefully nestle the soft chewy idiyappam inside a bowl and gently pour the coconut milk along the edges, just enough to soak them, neither too less milk as it gets absorbed fast nor too much milk as it floats in excess. Just perfect to dip, chew and slurp! And the pleasure to drink the leftover cardamon scented coconut milk is like being invited to have dinner with God. Pure and heavenly!

Ragi idiyappam / Finger millet noodles
Serves 4 
Source: My mother

  • 4 cups finger millet
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 cups hot water + more if needed

  • Pressure cooked without whistle
  • Idly plates
  • 1-2 teaspoon coconut oil to grease the idly plates and idiyappam press
Mix ragi flour with salt and sprinkle water little-by-little to form a soft dough. Pull out a little (about 1/2 cup) and place the dough inside the press and cover. Use the press as per manufacturer’s instruction. Run the press around a greased idly plates forming large circles. Steam cook them for 12-15 minutes. Once steam has settled, open and transfer to a fresh bowl. Set aside.

Thengai paal / Coconut nut milk
I used the coconut milk from the Thailand coconut milk 15oz can as I can read the calories. You can make fresh ones from scratch too. Make it ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serves 4
Source: My mother (with my variation)

1 cup coconut milk (I used Thailand coconut milk, 15oz can) or
Make fresh ones with the coconut shreddings
3 cups water
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
3 cardamon pods – crushed

1. Mix them all together and let the sugar dissolve. Check for sweetness. Add more if needed. Just make it as per your requirement.

Additional notes:
1. Ragi flour can be included in phase 2 and 3 of South beach diet. Since we have used coconut palm sugar this dish is perfect for any weightloss program. Always remember eating in moderation never hurts.
2. My ragi idiyappam with thengai paal can be eaten during gestational diabetes. You can also try my savory version (ragi sevai here).
3. Ideal breakfast/dinner food for those who are diabetic / pre diabetic.
4. You can chill it and serve it in small portions as dessert too. They are creamy, gritty and sweet.

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  1. Love what you do V. Such insightful post. I have always been fascinated with the various grains we eat in India and how nutritious they are. How the villagers prepare them freshly. Te west seems to be finding other grains now but we always had a large variety. Sadly the farmers are not encouraged much.

  2. we used to have a lot of ragi when we were in Bangalore. but its unavailable here … love your idiappam.

  3. idiyappam is my fav but somehow as kids don't eat i hardly make it at home. This ragi one is tempting me and i love to have with milk and sugar

  4. Wow!! I love that you haven't used rice flour at all in this recipe. I am a huge ragi fan but haven't tried many recipes with it yet. I especially loved the dosa my mom used to make for my grandma who was a diabetic. I like the nutty taste and I think I should definitely try this recipe. I also love the sweetened tenga paal with sevai and appam!! Lovely shots!

  5. love this post! i remember mom saying raagi was also my first solid food because of its many many health benifits.. never cooked with it though. gonna try this soon 🙂

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