Finger Millet

Finger millet
Finger Millet grains of mixed color.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Chloridoideae
Genus: Eleusine
Species: E. coracana
Binomial name
Eleusine coracana

Eleusine coracana, including African finger millet and caracan millet (koracan),[1] (Common names: Bengali, Nepali: Marwa, Marathi, Gujarati: Nachani, Bavto, Hindi: ragi, mandika) is an annual plant widely grown as a cereal in the arid areas of Africa and Asia. E. coracana is native to the Ethiopian Highlands.[2] It is very adaptable to higher elevations and is grown in the Himalaya up to 2,300 metres in elevation.


Eleusine coracana is often intercropped with legumes such as peanuts (Arachis hypogea), cowpeas (Vigna sinensis), and pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan), or other plants such as Niger seeds (Guizotia abyssinica).

Although statistics on individual millet species are confused, and are sometimes combined with sorghum, it is estimated that finger millet is grown on approximately 38,000 km2.

India is a major cultivator of finger millet with a total cultivated area of 15870 km2. The state of Karnataka is the leading producer of finger millet, known as Ragi in the region, accounting for 58% of India's Ragi production.[3]


Once harvested, the seeds keep extremely well and are seldom attacked by insects or moulds. The long storage capacity makes finger millet an important crop in risk-avoidance strategies for poorer farming communities.


Finger millet is especially valuable as it contains the amino acid methionine, which is lacking in the diets of hundreds of millions of the poor who live on starchy staples such as cassava, plantain, polished rice, or maize meal. Finger millet can be ground and cooked into cakes, puddings or porridge. The grain is made into a fermented drink (or beer) in Nepal and in many parts of Africa. The straw from finger millet is used as animal fodder. It is also used for a flavored drink in festivals.

Nutritional value of Finger Miller per 100g [4]

Protein 7.6g
Fat 1.5g
Carbohydrate 88g
Calcium 370mg
Vitamins - A: 0.48mg
Thiamine (B1): 0.33mg
Riboflavin (B2): 0.11mg
Niacin: (B3) 1.2mg
Fiber 3g

Preparation as food

In India, finger millet (locally called by various name including ragi and nachani) is mostly grown and consumed in Karnataka, Rajasthan,[5] Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Maharashtra, Garhwal and Kumaon (Uttarakhand) and Goa.[6][7] Ragi flour is made into flatbreads, including thin, leavened dosa and thicker, unleavened roti. Ragi grain is malted and the grains are ground. This ground flour is consumed mixed with milk, boiled water or yoghurt.

In Tamil Nadu, it is called kezhvaragu or just keppai. It is dried, powdered and boiled to form a thick mass that is allowed to cool. This is the famed 'kali' or 'keppai kali'. This is made into large balls to quantify the intake. It is taken with sambar or thick spicy soups made from tamarind extracts. For children, it is also given with milk and sugar. It is also made in the form of pancakes with onions and tomatoes chopped. Kezhvaragu is used to make puttu with jaggery/sugar and adai(by making a thick paste(sweet or salt is used) and tapping it flat on hot skillet). Apart from that its used for medicinal value for sinus and severe cold by applying (boiled kezhvaragu flour cooled to skin bearable heat) on forehead.

In Karnataka, ragi flour is generally consumed in the form of ragi balls (ರಾಗಿ ಮುದ್ದೆ ragi mudde in Kannada). It is the staple diet of majority of Southern Kannadigas, especially in the rural areas. The mudde which is prepared by cooking the Ragi flour with water to achieve a dough like consistency. Which is then rolled into 'balls' of desired size and consumed. Ghee with huLi, Saaru, sambar or chicken curry is generally served along with these balls. Mudde is broken with the fingers into small chunks, dipped in the saaru or the curry and swallowed without chewing.

In Andhra Pradesh Ragi Sankati or Ragi muddha (రాగి సంకటి in Telugu), which are ragi balls are eaten in the morning with a chilli, onions, sambar (lentil based stew)or meat curry and helps them sustain throughout the whole day and it keeps the body cool which is very useful as this area is located in tropical region.

Ragi Malt (potridge)(soaked and shadow dried, then roasted and grounded. this preparation is boiled in water and given to children, patients, adults etc) is prepared. This is a good substitute and better than Horlicks, Bournvita, Milo etc

In Odisha the tribal and western hilly regions ragi or (ମାଣ୍ଡିଆ)Mandiaa is a staple food.The porridge and Pithas made up of ragi are more popular among village folk.

In Maharashtra, bhakri (भाकरी in Marathi; also called ಭಕ್ರಿ bhakri in Northern Karnataka), a type of flat bread is prepared using finger millet (ragi) flour. Bhakri is called ರಾಗಿ ರೊಟ್ಟಿ (ragi rotti in Kannada) in Karnataka. In Goa ragi is very popular and satva, pole (dosa), bhakri, ambil (a sour porridge) are very common preparations. Nachani Ladus are common in some families.

In Nepal, a thick dough made of millet flour (ḍhĩḍo ढिंडो) is cooked and eaten with the hand. Fermented millet is used to make a beer (jããḍ जाँड) and the mash is distilled to make a liquor (rakśi रक्शी).

In the northwest of Vietnam, finger millet is used as a medicine for women when they give birth. A minority used finger millet flour to make alcohol (bacha alcohol is a good drink of the H'mong minority).

In Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, Maddua (मंडुआ) is made into thick rotis (served with ghee), and also made into dish, badi (बाड़ी), similar to halwa but without sugar. In the Kumaon region of northern India, it is called Maddua and is traditionally fed to women after child birth. In southern parts of India, pediatricians recommend finger-millet-based food for infants of six months and above because of its high nutritional content, especially Iron and calcium. Home made Ragi malt happens to be one of the most popular infant food even to this day. In Tamil Nadu, ragi is considered to be the holy food of Amman, otherwise knowns as "Goddess Kali". Every small or large festival of this goddess is celebrated with, women making porridge in the temples and distributing it to the poor and needy. This porridge is called Kuzl which is a staple diet in farming communities alongside raw onion.

In India, Ragi recipes are hundreds in number and even common food stuffs such as dosa, idly and laddu are made out of ragi.

Puttu: Puttu is a traditional breakfast of Kerala, usually made with Rice powder together with coconut grating and steamed in a cylindrical steamer. The preparation is also made with Ragi powder, which is supposed to be more nutritive.

In Sri Lanka, Finger millet is called Kurakkan and is made into:

Kurakkan roti: An earthy brown thick roti with coconut.
Thallapa: A thick dough made of ragi by boiling it with water and some salt until like a dough ball, it is then eaten with a very spicy meat curry and is usually swallowed in small balls than chewing.

Common names for finger millet

  • Arabic: Tailabon
  • Chinese: 穇子 (Traditional), 䅟子 (Simplified), cǎnzi (pinyin)
  • Danish: Fingerhirse
  • Dhivehi: ބިންބި Binbi
  • English: Finger millet, African millet, ragi, koracan
  • Ethiopia: Dagussa (Soddo), tokuso (Amharic), barankiya (Oromo)
  • French: eleusine cultivee, coracan, koracan
  • German: Fingerhirse
  • India:
    • Ragi ರಾಗಿ (Kannada)
    • Ragi రాగి (Telugu)
    • Ragi (रागी), Madua (मड़ुआ) in Hindi
    • Kodra (कोद्र) in Himachali ( Himachal Pradesh )
    • Mandia (Oriya)
    • Taidalu (in the Telangana region)
    • Kezhvaragu (கேழ்வரகு), kayppai (கேப்பை) (Tamil)
    • Muthary (Panjipul or kooravu, Raai (Malayalam))
    • Maddua (Kumaon)
    • Nachani नाचणी, Nagali नागली (Marathi & Gujarati)
    • Nachani नाचणी (Rajasthani)
    • Madua (Bihar, especially in Mithila region)
    • Nasne/Nachne/Nathno नासणे/नाचणे (Konkani)
  • Japan: 四国稗 シコクビエ Shikokubie
  • Kenya: Wimbi (Swahili), Kal (Dholuo), Ugimbi (Kikuyu and Meru), Obori (Kisii)
  • Korea: 수수 (Susu)
  • Nepal: कोदो Kodo
  • Nigeria: Tamba (Hausa)
  • Rwanda: Uburo
  • Sri Lanka: කුරක්කන් குரக்கன் (Kurakkan)
  • Sudan: Tailabon (Arabic), ceyut (Bari)
  • Tanzania: (Swahili) Mbege, mwimbi, Wimbi, ulezi,
  • Uganda: Bulo
  • Vietnam: Hong mi, Chi ke
  • Zambia: Kambale, lupoko, mawele, majolothi, amale, bule
  • Zimbabwe: Rapoko, zviyo, njera, rukweza, mazhovole, uphoko, poho

(Nachani (Marathi: नाचणी)

Poaceae (formerly and, also known as Gramineae; grass family) » Eleusine coracana

el-YOO-sy-nee -- named for Eleusis, the Greek town where the Temple of Ceres was located kor-uh-KAN-uh -- name derived from Sinhalese kurakkan porridge

commonly known as: African millet, coracan, finger millet, natcheny, ragi • Assamese: মৰুবা ধান maruba dhan • Bengali: marwa • Gujarati: બાવટો bavato, નાચણી nachni, નાગલી nagali • Hindi: मंडुआ mandua, मंडवा mandwa, मड़ुआ marua, मड़ुवा maruwa, रागी ragi • Kannada: ರಾಗಿ ragi • Konkani: नांचणी nanchani • Malayalam: രാഗി ragi • Marathi: नाचणी nachani, नागली nagali • Nepalese: मड़ुवा maruwa • Oriya: mandia • Punjabi: ਮੰਦਲ mandal, ਮੰਢੁਲ mandhul, ਮੁੰਡਲ mundal • Rajasthani: रागी ragi • Sanskrit: मधुलिका madhulika, मट्टकम् mattakam, नृत्यकुण्डलक nrutyakundala • Tamil: ஆரியம் aariyam, இராகி iraki, கேழ்வரகு kel-varaku, கேப்பை keppai • Telugu: రాగి ragi, తమిదలు tamidalu • Tibetan: bras ma du lun ga • Urdu: منڐوا mandwa, مڙوا maruwa, راگی ragi)


External links

  • Various Particulars of Ragi
  • Ethiopian Plant Names
  • West African plants - A Photo Guide.
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