Millet, the Wonder Grain
Millets, the small, unassuming grains are slowly regaining their popularity around the world. These ancient grains go as far back as 10, 000 years, especially in the Asian and African continents. Millets have been an integral part of our ancestors’ food and lifestyle for ages. With the popularity of white rice, we have almost forgotten the humble yet nutrient rich millets. As diabetes, cholesterol and other ailments are on the rise among Indian population, we are once again in the search for healthy, traditional food and thus have rediscovered millets.
Millets and their Benefits
There are numerous varieties of millet. We know some of the popular millets like sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), and finger millet (ragi). Some of the other popular millet types grown in India are foxtail millet (kangni), barnyard millet (jhangora), kodo millet (koden), and little millet (kutki).
Millets are a powerhouse of nutrients with countless health benefits. They are rich in B vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Little millet has rich calcium content (10 times more than rice/wheat) and is even given to babies. Millets are also rich in fiber, protein, starch, antioxidants, and are free from gluten.
Millets help reduce the risk of heart disease, cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. They improve our overall digestive health and helps in detoxifying our body.
Ways to include millets in our diet
Millets can be used as a healthier alternative for rice and can be served with dal, sambar, and curry just like rice. You can also make rotis, khichdi, pulao, idli, upma, pongal. Millets can also be used in baking and making sweets to give a healthy twist to your sweet cravings.
Here are some easy ideas to include in your daily diet.
Rotis made from jowar and bajra flour are very popular in north and west India. The method of making this roti is similar to making wheat rotis, except that hot water is added to knead the dough. You may need to be extra careful while rolling out the rotis and dust the dough balls with the millet flour. This is because the balls may break as they don’t have the gluten content to hold it together.
“Creative Commons Millet bread, cabbage with tomatoes, buttermilk raita with chili powder and mustard seeds ” by Garrett Ziegler is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Millet khichdi is highly nutritious and you can have a well-balanced meal complimented with raita. You can use the regular khichdi recipe and replace rice with any type of millets, such as foxtail, kodo, barnyard, or little millet. You can add vegetables of your choice such as carrot, beans, potato, peas and also a fistful of methi/drumstick leaves.
“Creative Commons Millet with Red Lentils, Spring Onions and Raisins” by Katrin Gilger is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Millet pulao is a flavorful dish and is a great option for lunch/lunch box. Again this is similar to the rice pulao recipe and rice is replaced with millets like foxtail, barnyard, kodo, and little millet. You can use any millet to make pulao/ bisibelabath /biryani and other rice varieties.
Porridge is a simple yet healthy and easy option, especially for breakfast. You can make healthy porridge with bajra, finger millet flour and relish it with curd or milk and nuts. It is one of the traditional dishes in Tamil Nadu where people enjoy it with onions, buttermilk, and chillies.
“Creative Commons Millet Porridge with Persimmons and Toasted Almonds ” by Isabelle Boucher is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Millets provide a great chance for you to munch on something healthy when the 4 PM hunger pangs hit. The options with millets are endless, you can make kheer to satisfy your sweet tooth and tikkis, pakodas, and other savories with millet flour.
So, why wait to start eating healthy? Try the above dishes with millets and let us know how it turned out. Do you have a special millet recipe of your own? Share it with us in the Comments section.
Eat healthy, stay healthy. :)