(Siru Dhanyam, Bajra, Ragi, Sorghum, Kambu, Kezhvaragu, Varagu, Kuthirai Vaali, Samai, Nachni, Kambu)
What are Millets?
Millets are a type of cereal grain widely cultivated and used in India. Our ancestors used millets as part of their diet on a regular basis. Over the last few decades, the major food grains - rice and wheat - took over, and the use of millets diminished. However, with the increase of diabetes mellitus in India, millets have slowly penetrated into the markets once again.
Millet Nutrition Facts
Millets are known for their high iron, protein, fiber and calcium content. Moreover it has a low glycemic index i.e. it releases sugar into the blood very slowly. It is also gluten free. Hence it is perfect for people with diabetes and with gluten allergy. Compared to rice millets very high in protein, fiber, iron, vitamin B, thiamin and riboflavin (source wikipedia). So, people with diabetes can have millet as a substitute for rice. Millets are gluten free grains that can be safely given to people of all ages.
These days doctors advise including millets in your regular diet as often as possible. It is easily available these days in super markets and organic stores in different forms. I have seen millets as grains, in the form of polished rice, as flour and even as dry sevai. I usually buy 2-3 packets of different millet flour and mix a little bit of each with my chapatti atta and puttu flour. That way it easily becomes part of regular meal. You can also mix a little with the regular dosa batter and make dosas.
Here I would like to give a brief idea about the different types of millets. I have also shared few recipes using millets. You can substitute any type of millet for each of the recipe.
Millets are classified as major millets and minor millets.
- Pearl millet (Bajra, Bajri, Sajje, Kambu, Cambu ,Sajjalu)
- Finger millet ( Ragi, Kelvaragu, Nachani, Mandwa)
- Foxtail millet (Thinai, Korralu, Navane, Kang, Rala)
- Proso millet (common millet, broom corn millet, hog millet, white millet)
- Maize (Makka Cholam)
- Sorghum (Cholam, Jonna, Jowar)
- Little millet (Samai, Saamai, Samalu)
- Kodo millet (Varagu, Varigalu)
- Barnyard Millet (Kuthirai Vaali, Kodisama, Bhagar, Varai)
How To Cook Millets?
Most millets are sold in super markets in the form of tiny seeds with most of their outer layers of skin removed. Pearl millet and Finger millet have a unique color, texture, aroma and taste. I have shared quite a few recipes below using these as whole grains and using in flour form. You get both whole grains as well as flour in shops. Maize recipes, I already have a separate page. Jowar recipes are also given below.
For the remaining types of millets - barnyard millet, foxtail millet, little millet and kodo millet, the recipes are quite similar. The taste and texture of these millets are also similar but their nutritional values are different. You can use them interchangeably in recipes. To cook any of these millets, first wash the millets in running water using a colandar. Then measure 3 cups of water (or any stock) for 1 cup of millet. If you want it a little grainier, take 2.5 cups of water. Take the water, salt and millets in a pot and boil it. Once the liquid boils, reduce the flame and simmer for 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Fluff it with a fork and let it rest for another 5 minutes. After that remove it onto a different bowl so that it doesn't get clumped up and all the grains stay separate. This can be served with any gravy as a substitute for rice. It can also be used to make a wide variety of Indian style dishes which I have mentioned below. The recipes includes breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas that you can easily prepare at home.
Multi Millet Recipes (Using a combination of Millets)
Pearl Millet Recipes (Bajra, Bajri, Sajje, Kambu, Cambu ,Sajjalu)
Finger Millet Recipes (Ragi, Kelvaragu, Nachani)
Ragi is a cereal that is more popular in South India, especially Karnataka. A very popular dish amongst the people of Karnataka is the Ragi mudde (Ragi balls) which is their staple meal for dinner. Ragi is also made as porridge (Ragi kanji) and is given as a weaning food for babies. This porridge is commonly found as healthy drink in Tamilnadu.
The nutrition benefits are many. Ragi is a cereal that is gluten free and is best suited for people who are gluten and lactose intolerant. Ragi is also calcium rich, which is important for healthy bones and teeth and prevents osteoporosis. Ragi also has low Glycemic index (GI) in comparison to the other cereals that helps in keeping the blood sugar within a safe range. It is best to add ragi to our breakfast or lunch for a healthy day. Sprouted Ragi is also rich in iron and Vitamin C. The vitamin C present in sprouted ragi makes the iron present in it easily absorbable. Hence, ragi is also best suited for anemic patients. Ragi is also one of the best natural protein sources and it is fiber rich which aids in proper digestion and normal bowel movement. Ragi helps in increasing the milk supply for lactating mothers.
Sorghum Recipes (Jowar, Cholam)
Little Millet Recipes (Samai, Samalu)
Fox Millet Recipes (Thinai)