Millets have been around for thousands of years, and grow well in tropical regions characterised by hot, summery weather. In India, several varieties of this small grained cereal are grown, which includes jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet), ragi (finger millet), jhangora (barnyard millet), barri (proso or common millet), kangni (foxtail/ Italian millet) and kodra (kodo millet) to name a few.
Millet is grown in Goa, too, albeit on a small scale, with production having dwindled in the 70s. The variety grown here is ragi (finger millet), locally known as nachni, and was primarily cultivated in hilly parts of Pernem, Sanguem, Valpoi, Quepem and Canacona.
Widely hailed as a superfood nowadays, millet has multiple health benefits, being rich in vitamins and minerals. And, with the United Nations declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYoM-2023), it would be fitting to throw the spotlight on one of Goa’s popular traditional millet dishes, tizan (or tisana/tizann).
HEALTHY, HEALING & DELICIOUS
Goan tizan is a kind of porridge made using a few basic ingredients – ragi, coconut milk, jaggery and sometimes cardamom, all easily available in local markets. Prepared using nachni (finger millet), tizan was generally eaten for breakfast or along with evening tea, back in the day.
The dark brown madachem godd (Goan palm jaggery) adds depth and sweetness to the dish, as well as the familiar chocolate brown colour.
While tizan has an almost thick consistency resulting from the coconut milk it contains, ambil is a lighter version and is prepared without coconut.
Cardamom is sometimes added to tizan to enhance the flavour.
Being easy to digest, tizan is the traditional meal of choice for those suffering from illness and for healing wounds and bones.
(Goan ragi porridge)
1 coconut, grated
150 g nachni/ragi flour
4 pyramids Goan coconut jaggery
A pinch of salt
2 cups warm water
Grind the coconut in 2 cups warm water and extract 2 cups of thick juice.
Extract thin juice and keep aside.
Heat jaggery in ½ cup of thin juice.
In the meantime, dissolve the flour in a cup of thin juice, and stir until there are no lumps.
Mix the thick juice into the dissolved jaggery. Gradually stir in the flour mixture and salt.
Continue stirring (on a low flame) till the sweet turns very thick (or to the desired consistency).
When done, pour onto a large plate or bowl. Serve hot.
RECIPE COURTESY: ‘Goan Cookbook’ by Joyce Fernandes
‘Goan Cookbook’ by Joyce Fernandes is available at all leading book stores in Goa