Ragi (Finger millet/African millet/Nachni) Flour

Recipe Marathon: Day 4.

We’ve been experimenting with various flours recently. Ragi (Eleusine coracana) is a close cousin of teff – the ancient grain grown in the Ethiopian Highlands. The reddish grains and pink flour of both are similar in appearance and in their sweet, nutty flavour.

Finger millet is originally native to the Ethiopian Highlands and was introduced into India approximately 4000 years ago. It is very adaptable to higher elevations and is grown in the Himalaya up to 2,300 metres in elevation. (Link)

It’s a great plant-based source of calcium, as well as the amino acid methionine, more commonly found in animal protein. Ragi grains are easily available at the Indian grocer, as is the flour. Else, use teff, available HERE.

We’ve listed two ways to make the sourdough rolls – with and without sourdough starter.


(8 rolls or a 2-pound loaf)

Knead together
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
half cup water

3 tbsp whole wheat or rye sourdough starter
**if you don’t have sourdough starter, add 1/4 tsp active dry yeast and reduce the wheat flour and water by 1 tbsp each.

Cover and let it sit overnight or upto 12 hours at room temperature.

1 cup ragi flour
**or teff flour or whole wheat or dark rye flour
1 tbsp vital gluten (optional. see note below)
1.5 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
1.5 tsps salt
2.5 tsps active dry yeast for rolls, 2 tsps for a loaf
1 cup sweet potato puree (see note below)
1 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1/2 tsp dry powdered ginger
1/3 tsp each cardamom and cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsps extra-virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 tbsp maple syrup or jaggery/brown sugar

**if you don’t have gluten, reduce the ragi flour to 1/2 cup and replace that amount with all purpose flour.
** boil, peel and cube a sweet potato and mash/puree it with two tablespoons water until it is smooth.

To brush the rolls
1.5 tablespoons oil or coconut milk (or beaten egg or butter)

1. Heat 1/4 cup water to lukewarm and add the yeast.

2. Let it dissolve and and sit for five minutes. It should foam up. If it doesn’t, your water was too hot or your yeast is old. Discard the batch and try again.

3. Mix all the ingredients including the starter together (except those for brushing) and knead for 4-5 minutes to form a smooth ball. Add flour or water if necessary, 1 tbsp at a time.

4. Let it rise covered in a warm place for an hour or until double in volume.

5. Punch down, knead a bit more, and divide it into eight equal parts. Form each part into a long strand (about 10 inches), thick in the middle and thin on the ends. Coil it around and pull one end through to make a knot. Place on a baking sheet layered with parchment or silicone. Tuck one loose end under.

Or form into regular round rolls. Or form into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan.

6. Cover with a towel and leave them to rise for another 25-30 minutes for rolls, 45 minutes for a loaf.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (or 360 F at convection setting).

7. Brush the rolls with coconut milk/oil on the top and sides. If it’s a loaf, slash the top for the steam to escape.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes (check at 13) until golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

This one’s for Sandy’s Bake Your Own Bread At The Baker’s Bench.

And for Susan @ Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting.

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  1. I love it — another new (old) grain to try! We have lots of Indian groceries around here so I will look for ragi.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Anjali Koli says:

    Jai and Bee

    Those rolls look very nicely leavened. Having used ragi in breads. biscuits etc. I know how difficult it is to make the dough rise. Your tips are really useful.

  3. I usually do not bake breads at home (we got a great German bakery nearby) but I am in the midst of a love affair with sweet potatoes. Plus, I threw away some old ragi flour just the other day and need to replenish. Thanks for the great recipe.

  4. ruchikacooks says:


    I am also taking part in Nupur’s recipe marathon. We usually make ragi kanji or ragi rounds(balls) to go with a gravy, but its good that I learnt about using ragi in breads. Wouldn’t have known from the photos that it is ragi.Healthy alternative.

  5. Nirmala says:

    Bread with Ragi ? I know how much a struggle to work with AP flour for breads. You people rock! The simple ragi adai with drumstick leaves are all that I know! These rolls look perfect!

  6. Dee says:

    Bee, good to be back here ! I have not been visiting you guys often.I love what you have done with ragi and sweet potato.

  7. Joanne says:

    I love the sound of these! Sweet potato AND sourdough – two of my favorites.

  8. Suni says:


    I have been searching all over to know where I can get ragi grain. I have a five month old baby, and I want to give her ragi kanji, as we do in Kerala. You have mentioned that the grain is easily available with Indian grocers, could you please tell me where? I have seen ragi powder, but scared to try that for the baby. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    • A&N says:

      Hi Suni, I know that Ragi is available at Cherians Grocery Store, Atlanta for sure. I buy it from there.

      • Suni says:

        Thanks A&N, I live in Kansas City though. I checked Cherian’s online, they do have a website,but no indication that they ship grocery to other states. I will call them anyways. Do you any other online grocery stores?

        Again, Thank you so much!

        • A&N says:

          I could check with Cherians if they will make a special case for you and send/mail some over.

          Also, I’d love to send it across to you (just that I’m leaving to India in 2 days and won’t be able to make a trip to Cherians by then!)

        • Manggy says:

          I searched for “Grains in Kansas City, MO” and it yielded a lot of businesses with phone numbers, but they seem to be large companies. In any case, finding a small merchant’s phone number and asking them if they stock finger millet should do the trick. Good luck!

          • Suni says:

            Thanks Manggy! Ragi flour is available in KC as well. I was wondering about the grain. Thanks a lot for checking it for me!!

        • Suni says:

          Sorry, they do say that they will ship, I will call them.

          • A&N says:

            Hi Suni!

            One of my friends did see Ragi flour at Cherians, Atlanta. I could send it to you after I get back from India (in March, that is!)

            Do let me know.

          • Suni says:

            Thanks A & N, I see Raag flour here in Kansas as well. I was checking for Raagi grain. My mother has posted it from India :) … looking forward to whether it will reach here. Or else I will just use the ragi flour available here.

            But Thanks a lot for offering your help. I mean I dont come across people look like you everyday, who offers to ship things to a stranger. WOW!! Thanks a lot!!

  9. [...] Ragi-Sweet Potato Sourdough Rolls [...]

  10. Renata says:

    This has been on my list to do and I finally did it today! I used only whole wheat flour and all purpose flour. I did not use the gluten and I used the fresh ginger and maple syrup.

    It was a total success and super easy. So sour and delicious… I had it as a bun with my favorite veggie patties for dinner this evening. Couldn’t have had a better meal.


  11. [...] Ragi (Nachni, Finger millet, Eleusine coracana) is a close relative of teff. Rich in calcium and certain amino acids, it’s available at the Indian grocery store. [...]

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