Nutrition of Bajra Roti

Roti is a simple flatbread that is traditionally made from flour, water and ghee. It's popularly consumed in Indian, Caribbean and South American cuisine. While roti can be made from virtually any flour, bajra roti is specifically made using pearl millet.

Roti is a type of flatbread made from pearl millet. (Image: Arundhati Sathe/iStock/GettyImages)

What Is Bajra Roti?

Roti is a fairly plain, simple flatbread that's made using four ingredients: flour, water, fat and salt. The type of flour and the type of fat used can vary, which results in a range of different types of roti. For example:

  • Akka roti, a rice flour roti
  • Missi roti, made using a combination of chickpea flour and whole wheat flour
  • Jowar roti, made with sorghum flour
  • Ragi roti, made using a combination of finger millet flour and whole wheat flour

The name before the word roti often refers to the type of flour used to make the bread. In the case of bajra roti, bajra flour is the Hindi term for flour made from pearl millet. This means that bajra roti is simply a flatbread made from pearl millet flour.

According to the book Nutritional and Health Benefits of Millets, published in June 2017 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, pearl millet (bajra) is a gluten-free grain that originated in Central Africa. This crop is now mainly produced in Africa and Asia.

Bajra is considered highly nutritious, especially compared to refined grains. Although it is primarily a carbohydrate, this grain also contains protein, fiber, several different essential micronutrients and various beneficial bioactive compounds. Consumption of products made with bajra is often associated with a wide variety of health benefits.

Bajra Nutrition Facts

Bajra is a versatile grain that can be used to make a variety of baked goods and breads. If made into bajra roti, you can eat it on its own, stuff it with vegetables or use it as a wrap.

According to a January 2012 study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, 100 grams of whole bajra is equivalent to 363 calories, and is comprised of:

  • 11.8 grams of protein
  • 4.8 grams of fat
  • 67 grams of carbohydrates, 2.3 grams which come from fiber

According to both the book Nutritional and Health Benefits of Millets and another study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, this one from September 2017, bajra is known to have highly variable nutritional information. For example, its protein content can vary from 6 to 27 percent.

The nutritional value of this grain can change even further when processed into bajra flour. For example, a February 2017 study in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology showed how certain processing techniques can increase the protein content in bajra flour by up to 50 percent.

Despite these variations, you can usually consider bajra flour to be a good source of fiber, healthy unsaturated fats and protein. Bajra is also rich in a variety of different beneficial bioactive compounds known as phytochemicals, according to Nutritional and Health Benefits of Millets. These include antioxidants like polyphenols, lignans, phytosterols, phytoestrogens and phycocyanins, which are all associated with many health benefits.

Nutrition of Bajra Roti

As an example, a 100-gram serving of one commercial, organic brand of bajra roti has 385.25 calories, as well as:

  • 12.72 grams of protein
  • 5.09 grams of fat
  • 72.41 grams of carbohydrates, 8.64 grams which come from fiber
  • 9 percent of the daily value (DV) for potassium
  • About 5 percent of the DV for calcium

This amount of bajra flour can be used to make about four pieces of bajra roti when mixed with about half a cup of water. Since bajra roti has only salt for flavoring and is then fried or baked, its nutrition is almost entirely from the bajra itself.

You can coat your bajra roti with a bit of ghee, a type of clarified butter, then cook it on a griddle, skillet or even in a tandoor oven. You can also fry it in oil if you fancy something more similar to a chapati.

Bajra's Health Benefits

Although bajra's nutrition might not seem particularly impressive, the combination its basic nutritional profile, along with its variety of beneficial bioactive compounds, provides a variety of benefits for your health. According to both the January 2012 study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology and the book Nutritional and Health Benefits of Millets, the functional uses of bajra include:

  • Detoxification through antioxidants
  • Helping maintain stable blood sugar levels in diabetics
  • Helping treat ulcers
  • Lowering triglyceride levels
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Improving the gastrointestinal system's function
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Improving muscle function
  • Improving nervous system function
  • Improving respiratory health
  • Preventing gallstones
  • Providing protection from cardiovascular disease
  • Providing protection from diabetes
  • Providing protection against metabolic syndrome
  • Providing protection against Parkinson's diseases
  • Reducing acidity in the body
  • Reducing the risk of cancer
  • Supporting weight loss

Bajra is also nonallergenic, which makes it particularly safe for young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Increasing Bajra's Nutrition and Benefits

To obtain even more nutritional benefits, try sprouted bajra flour. Sprouting increases the digestibility of the nutrients, reports the January 2012 Journal of Food Science and Technology study. However, it may be difficult to obtain sprouted bajra, so you may need to sprout it yourself.

To sprout bajra, soak the whole grains for a day or two the way you would other grains or legumes. Use sprouted bajra in the same way as regular bajra. Once dried, grind it into small batches to create flour. You can then create your bajra roti as usual.

It's important to not grind up too much bajra at once if you're making it yourself. The September 2017 study in the Journal of Food Science and Technology reports that bajra flour is extremely prone to rancidity. If you have too much bajra flour, keep it in a sealed container in the fridge.

If you have a large amount of sprouted bajra, use it in the same way as bean sprouts, incorporating it into stir-fries, stews, soups, sandwiches and a variety of other dishes.

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