Wednesday, May 13, 2015

panjeeri is a desi granola mix ; a recipe of mixed millet panjeeri and a millet workshop in Hyderabad

Panjeeri brings back memories of my grandmother who used to make panjeeri with almost every grain. She used to make panjeeri even with rice flour as one of the ingredients and would sometimes bind the mix into laddu for the ease of handling and serving. Panjeeri is a roasted mix of flours, chopped nuts, powdered fox nuts and raisins, the ingredients are roasted separately and slowly along with ghee and are mixed with raw sugar or jaggery powder to make a delicious mix that is considered great for breakfast or for day time snacking.

My grandmother used to have panjeeri with warm milk too, just like one has cereal. Many old people like to add panjeeri to milk as they find it easy to gulp down that way. Panjeeri mixed with mashed banana and some milk makes good baby food too, but for that purpose panjeeri is made without ghee and nuts. How versatile a recipe can be.

The panjeeri mix includes dry ginger, turmeric, edible gum etc if it is made for winters and is made without these for summer days. But panjeeri is not an everyday summer food traditionally, it was made when one had to stock some ready to eat options at home or for traveling.

I remember panjeeri used to be our travel food each summer vacation. My mother still makes it almost all through the year using different ingredients suited for seasons, she makes a sugar free (not with sugar substitutes) version with few raisins and chopped dates for my dad too who is a diabetic. Like all diabetics my dad loves sweets and feels deprived if he doesn't get such things.

This time I made this panjeeri with mixed millets flour. There is some pearl millet, some sorghum, some amaranth flour, some corn meal, some barley flour, some oats flour, little wheat flour, some bran and some whole chickpea flour (with skin) in this mix. One can always mix the flours according to taste and preference and make the panjeeri using any of these flours alone, but mixing the flours works great for a complex flavour.

The panjeeri was actually made in large amount this time. I am doing a workshop on health benefits of millets and their everyday uses and wanted the participants get a taste of what they learn that day. I am so looking forward to the workshop.

The recipe is simple, but takes some time to prepare the ingredients and slow roast them separately. I did it myself in three days as I was busy with work too. Once the panjeeri is ready you feel like tasting it every half an hour. No I couldn't do that this time as I was suffering from a bout of food poisoning and was on a strict diet of yogurt and khichdi, my breakfast was plain yogurt mixed with isabgul husk. Life is not always fair but I will make up for it :-)

(makes about 80-100 servings)

mixed millet flour 1 kilo (I used a mix of sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), barley (jau), corn (makii), oats (jaee), amatranth (ramdana or rajgira), whole wheat, whole black chickpea (kala chana) and little bran. All flours are added in equal amount.
fox nuts (makhana)100 gm (powdered)
flax seeds meal 200 gm
chopped almonds 500 gm (use mixed nuts if desired)
raisins 150 gm
jaggery powder or raw sugar 700 gm (or to taste) I used organic shakkar which is powdered jaggery
ghee 600 gm

*skip using wheat if you are allergic to it. I get this flour mix for my rotis and used the same for making panjeeri, skipping wheat makes no difference in taste. Gluten free version of panjeeri is as good.

** skip sugar or jaggery for diabetics. Ad some stewia powder or just some chopped dates too and serve in small portions to diabetics.


Heat 50 gm ghee in a pan ( I used a thick base kadhai) and roast the fox nut powder lightly. Keep aside.

Heat a little more ghee and fry the chopped almonds lightly on low flame, add the raisins in the last couple of minutes, fry together and take out from the kadhai. Keep aside.

Heat the remaining ghee and tip in the mixed millet flour and the flax seeds meal. Roast the flour mix at very low flame for an hour or so or till it becomes a bit brown and gets aromatic too. Take off the stove, add the raw sugar or jaggery powder, the roasted fox nut nut powder and almonds and raisins too and mix well.

Let the mixture cool down completely and then store it in air tight jars for about a month. I fill the pajeeri in many small jars so one of them in on the dining table too. This time the lot has already been packed to take it to Hyderabad :-)

A 25-30 gm serving of this multigrain panjeeri is very filling with a glass of milk. Some people even eat 50 gm or more but it is one of the healthier low glycemic foods that keep you full for hours. The next meal is automatically portion controlled if you have had this panjeeri in a large serving.

I always call it desi granola mix as it has everything a granola has and is made with local ingredients. And it can also be modified to suit seasons.

I make a methi panjeeri a lot for myself and the recipe is still to be shared, will share that too very soon. Another version of panjeeri with herbs and nuts is made for new mothers too which is a ritual in most Indian homes.

Are you based in Hyderabad? Come for this workshop if so and enjoy some millet panjeeri with me. There will be some more food to sample and I am sure you all would enjoy being there, we will definitely learn some interesting things that day.

Looking forward to talk about millets, their health benefits and how millets are crucial for the health of our planet as well. Come join me there.

I will be sharing the updates and may be videos of the workshop too with all of you here. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

101 gluten free breakfasts | sorghum banana pancakes with pomegranate rhododendron jelly

Someone asked me why I work around millets so much. What is the goal I am working towards when I promote millets, traditional recipes that are getting lost and age old nutrition wisdom. I was thinking of the age old wisdom that is being taken over by consumerism and 'tactful' nutrition information fine printed on shiny food packets.

I asked him what did he have for breakfast and he told me about a crisp toast with French butter and some fruit preserve. I told that I made a gluten free sorghum flour and banana pancake and had it with pomegranate rhododendron jelly. Jowar kele ka cheela, as we would call it and he wanted to know more about the pancake and how millets can make such tasty foods. The interest was ignited immediately.

I had never expected this kind of question as all of you my readers and friends have been
reassuring in different ways, and my own quest giving me enough reasons to continue what I love doing. I never follow a goal but do what I like at the moment, taking life as it comes, plans never worked and surprises were always good.

But yes, I do have a reason for reviving old times wisdom and alternative grains, Indian native foods and cooking techniques and most importantly the love for cooking family meals at home. I don't have to explain those reasons for you my friend, because you have subscribed to my blog and have been reading what I think about these.

I would explain my concern about the millets for a reason today. I am an environmentalist by instinct, I feel frustrated to see how the soil health is depleting by monoculture of wheat and rice in different agricultural areas while millets are being neglected. For ages millets were considered food of the poor.

How many of us know that millets take very few resources to grow? These are mostly rain fed crops and do not deplete water resources, do not need pesticides and insecticides much and can be grown organically well.

And there are health benefits that you know already. I know because you are reading healthfood desivideshi and have clicked to read this piece of information. I know you too hate quinoa and use alternative flours for everyday cooking like I do.

(2 servings of filling breakfast)

jowar flour (sorghum flour) 3/4 cup
over ripe banana mashed well 1 or mashed pulp about 1/2 cup
cinnamon powder 1/4 tsp or to taste (optional)
milk 1/3 cup or a bit more
chopped mixed nuts 2 tbsp
flax seeds meal 2 tsp
ghee to shallow fry the pancakes 1-2 tsp per serving ( I used total about a tbsp)
any fruit preserve or honey to serve


Make a batter using the flour, the mashed banana, flax meal, chopped nuts and milk. Add just enough milk to make a thick batter.

Heat a griddle and smear ghee over it. Pour small ladlefuls of batter over the griddle and let it cook for a couple of minutes on one side, over medium flame. Turn over and cook the other side too to get a golden crust.

Serve hot or warm with any fruit preserve or honey you like. This time we had the pomegranate and rhododendron jelly with it. I like the pancake plain with some hot milk, the husband always likes some jam or honey with his pancakes.

The pancake keeps me full till evening if I have it with milk. I normally munch on some salted roasted nuts or peanuts in between because I don't feel good after eating something sweet but that is me.

I must tell you that I have seen some people eating such pancakes with laal mirch ka acahar too and that actually tastes really good. A combination of sweet and spicy is actually good.

Tell me if you want to learn more about millets. For health reasons and for environment too, I will make sure there is some millets everyday on your table. Or that is being over ambitious?

I will be in Hyderabad next week, and will conduct a workshop with a millets theme, millets for everyone and everyday, at Our Sacred Space. If you are in Hyderabad and want to learn how to cook with millets everyday, you are welcome. Please sign up with this workshop and have fun with millets.

We are planning to serve this sorghum banana pancake too at the workshop. Would you like to join us there?