Finger Millet, also known as Ragi is an important millet grown extensively in various regions of India and Africa. Its scientific name is Eleusine coracana. It ranks sixth in production after wheat, rice, maize, sorghum and bajra in India. In India, ragi (finger millet) is mostly grown and consumed in Karnataka, and to a limited extent in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Goa.
It has different names in local languages. In India finger millet is commonly called by various names like ragi (in Kannada, Telugu and Hindi), also Mandua/Mangal in Hindi, Kodra (Himachal Pradesh), Mandia (Oriya), Taidalu (in Telangana region), Kezhvaragu in Tamil etc.
Finger millet is considered one of the most nutritious cereals. Finger millet contains about 5–8% protein, 1–2% ether extractives, 65–75% carbohydrates, 15–20% dietary fiber and 2.5–3.5% minerals. Of all the cereals and millets, finger millet has the highest amount of calcium (344mg%) and potassium (408mg%). The cereal has low fat content (1.3%) and contains mainly unsaturated fat. 100 grams of Finger millet has roughly on an average of 336 KCal of energy in them.
However, the millet also contains phytates (0.48%), polyphenols, tannins (0.61%), trypsin inhibitory factors, and dietary fiber, which were once considered as “anti nutrients” due to their metal chelating and enzyme inhibition activities (Thompson 1993) but nowadays they are termed as neutraceuticals.Being non-glutinous, finger millet is safe for people suffering from gluten allergy and celiac disease. It is non-acid forming, and hence easy to digest. Finger millet is rich in amino acids (Tryptophan, Threonine, Valine, Isoleucine and Methionoine).
So, finger millet is an extremely nutritious cereal and is very beneficial for maintaining a good health. Therefore have received attention for their potential role as functional foods. However, its high intake could increase quantity oxalic acid in the body. Therefore, it is not advised to patients having kidney stones (Urinary Calculi). Finger millet could be enjoyed in different forms and preparations. ragi roti, ragi dosa, ragi porridge, ragi upma, ragi cakes, ragi biscuits are few popular dishes of finger millet (ragi).