Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday's Tasty Morsel: Kurakkan

This week I've selected kurakkan (also known as Finger Millet or Eleusine Coracana) as my tasty morsel...

Image courtesy of Dept of Agriculture, Sri Lanka

Since moving to Sri Lanka I've discovered the joys of introducing kurakkan into my diet. I thought I would share this with you, as you may or may not have had the opportunity to discover it yet.

Eleusine coracana or E. coracana is an annual plant grown as a cereal in Asia and Africa. It is used in many srilankan households to make local foods like roti, pittu, string hoppers, noodles and more. According the Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka, kurakkan is solely utilized for human consumption, gaining popularity as a relief food for diabetics. Presently it is grown in Anuradapura, Monoragala, Hambantoda , Kegalla, Ratnapura, Nuweraliya, Ampara, Badulla, and Jaffna districts.

New scientific research reveals that kurakkan is substantially healthier than western grain products such as wheat and maize. Regular consumption of kurakkan in Sri Lanka in earlier times may have contributed to the low incidence of diabetes, cholesterol and intestinal disorders on the island. However in modem times, as western products, such as wheat flour, have become more readily available this may have had an impact on changes to the ingredients used in srilankan cooking.

Growing up I consumed mainly western grain products, particularly wheat-based foods - white bread, wheat pasta, cakes and sweets etc. I love to cook and bake and have experimented with different ingredients. So, coming to live on the island meant a whole new world of ingredients to find and test.

This is how I discovered kurakkan flour! I have personally found my stomach is less bloated when I consume food made with kurakkan flour, as opposed to wheat flour. So these days, I enjoy kurakkan bread, roti, string hoppers, and even pasta.

Useful information

Key ingredient: Kurakkan

Other names: Eleusine coracana, African finger millet and caracan millet (koracan)
Common names: Bengali, Nepali: Marwa, Gujarati: Nagli, Bavto, Hindi: ragi, mandika

Native: Africa and Asia

Health benefits: Kurakkan is rich in minerals (especially calcium and iron) and dietary fibre. It 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. It is a popular food among diabetic patients in Sri Lanka as its slow digestion indicates low blood sugar levels after a kurakkan diet thereby reacting as a safer food for diabetics.

Recipe - Kurrakan Roti

Courtesy of Malini's Kitchen 

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups Kurakkan flour
1 cup shredded coconut (or 3/4 cups desiccated coconut)
Salt to taste

If using desiccated coconut, mix it with 1/4 cup water and microwave for 30 seconds. Mix the all the ingredients in a bowl. Next add cold water little by little so that all the ingredients come together to form a dough. Take care not to get it too wet.

If the dough is too wet add a little bit of flour.
Knead the dough and break into balls of about 2" diameter.

Flatten on a floured board or plate using your palms. If more crispy crust is desired, roll using rolling pin.

Cook on a heated heavy bottom pan till golden brown on both sides under medium heat.
Serve hot, with Pol sambol or katta sambol.

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