Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wheat-Finger Millet Phulkas

The husband is fond of exotic grains like Quinoa and Couscous and he enjoys the flavor in light salads. I like to explore and dig deep into my Indian heritage to find gems which I might have missed or forgotten, for e.g Millets. I distinctly remember High School Geography class drill on Kharif crops and Rabi crops. Kharif crops are sown during monsoon time and harvested during autumn. Common ones being - Jowar (Sorgum), Bajra (Pearl Millet) and Nachni/ Ragi (Finger Millet). Rabi crops are sown during winter and harvested during summer season. Common ones are Wheat, Mustard and Barley. Phulkas have been part of regular diet for quite some time now. For past few days I have been wanting to fortify the Phulkas to enrich the flour.
One of our close friends family hails from Hosur village in Karnataka, India. This amazing lady whom I fondly call Kaaki is very simple, easy going and down to earth person. Kaaki is shy and abhors the city life. She comes to visit her kids in the city, complains of boredom, misses her friends and gossip from village. In her family, they grow their own vegetables and even the grains they consume. Most of all she misses her plants, creepers and massive fields. She loves the company of grasslands, nature and prefers pollution free life. She often tells me that village people have more heart, smile often and are more compassionate than city folks. I smile and patiently listen to her stories from the village, her friends and her farmland. She is an epitome of simplicity and her persona is devoid of any pretense.

At the crack of dawn after finishing her morning chores, she diligently draws rangoli made out of rice paste once a week after cleaning and mopping the floors, apparently a tradition in Hosur. Kaaki wears saree with large temple borders, a dozen of glass bangles always on her wrist, her hair is neatly adorned with colorful flowers and her nose gleams with multi-diamond nose studs, much like the famous Indian singer MS Subbalakshmi. A cute thing Kaaki does is when she is doing her household chores she sings songs which are folk based from her region. Most of them are stories about farmers, crops salvaged and joy of harvest. Her lunch wraps by 12:00 noon and dinner wraps even earlier by 7:00 in the evening. The preferred choice is mostly Ragi Mudde, a round steamed and cooked Ragi Ball served with vegetable and beans curry. Her family also enjoys Jonnada Rotti, a Roti made of Jowar and Bajri Roti, a roti made out of Bajri flour. Their food habits are well rooted to their region and they eat according to season and climatic changes. Often during cold winters in Hosur, they drink Ragi Malt and relish the taste. No wonder her kids do not enjoy modern branded drink mix and enjoy home made concoctions. They also consume lot of greens and vegetables.

I recall asking her the significance of Ragi and its relevance to their life in village. She informed me that people in her village own large farmland and often labor is a big issue. So more often than not, they end up tilling the fields, sowing and also harvesting the crop if labor is not available. Ragi also known as Finger Millet is high in Calcium and is a preferred food for her family because it strengthens the bones and keep the stomach full for a long time. The farms are vast and far off, so the energy from Millet keeps them going for long hours. The sugar release process is slower with Ragi hence one does not feel hungry for long hours.

I tried Ragi Mudde but did not like the flavor. I believe its an acquired taste. I stumped upon the idea of Wheat-Finger Millet Phulkas. Kneading the dough out of 100% Ragi is not easy and takes time to master. I made Phulkas with 4:1 of Wheat and Ragi proportion. If Finger Millet flour alone is used, then the Phulkas are gluten free and good option for people with gluten intolerance. The Phulkas puff well and one feels full for long hours. Good for office lunch box and very portable.

Wheat-Finger Millet Phulkas
Phulkas made of Wheat and Finger Millet flour

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: 10-12 Phulkas

Wheat flour - measure of 4
Ragi (Nachni/ Finger Millet) flour - measure of 1
Warm Water - 3/4 to 1 cup
Oil/ Ghee
Salt - same as the amount of sugar
Sugar- same as the amount of salt

Warm water till its lukewarm. In a mixing bowl, add wheat flour and finger millet flour in 4:1 proportion. Measure here determines either your standard measuring cup or the regular Vaati which I use for measuring flour. Add salt and sugar in equal proportion. Mix the dry ingredients well. Make a hole in the centre of the flour. Add warm water and oil/ ghee. Slowly pull in the flour and knead well. Spend good 5-8 minutes kneading the dough. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth.
Heat a Tava. Take a cup of wheat flour in a small plate (to dip the dough at regular intervals). Divide the dough into small portions, about the size of a tennis ball. Using the rolling pin, flatten the ball and dip in the dry wheat flour in the plate. Roll with a rolling pin to about 6" in diameter. The drier the dough, the easier it is to roll the Phulka.
The Tava will be hot by now. Slam the Phulka on Tava and let it cook on one side. The Phulka will be partly fried on one side. On another open flame place the part cooked Phulka with a pair of kitchen tongs and let it puff up. Tiny black spots will appear on either sides. Cook well on both sides. Transfer to a hot box and cover with a lid. Serve warm with Dal/ Sabzi of choice.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Vanamala. They are softer but are darker owing to the ash grey shade of Ragi flour.


I appreciate any comment and would love to hear from you. Trust you enjoy my blog.