Millets: An Amazing Indian Superfood


What are millets?

Millets are small seed grasses that are gluten-free and rich in nutrients, fibre, vitamins, proteins and which have umpteen health benefits. Naturally, gluten-free millets are the best source of grain and a great alternative to wheat for gluten intolerant people.

Millets are among the oldest cultivated grains known to humans and have been used as livestock feed and birdseed for ages. They have made their appearance in Western countries recently after a revolution in healthy food and their health benefits became known to the world.

Millets come in various shapes, colours and are available in various forms such as whole, semolina or flour. They are highly nutritious and easy to digest.

What are the different types of millets?

Finger Millet: Generally called Nachni in North India and Raagi in Sout India. In southern India, Ragi is an essential part of everyday meals in the form of porridge, flatbread, and dosa. Nowadays, it has made its appearance in cookies and cakes as a healthy alternative to refined flours.

Sorghum: This millet is commonly referred as Jowar in India. Traditionally, it has been used to prepare flatbread, porridge and malted beverages.

Barnyard: These are tine, white, round seeds that have the lowest carbohydrate content compared to other millets. It is popularly known as samvak ke chawal, a dish made with this millet is the most preferred during festival fasting. Good alternative to rice.

Pearl millet: Commonly known as Bajra and has been a staple diet since pre-historic times in India. It can be cultivated in a land characterised by low soil fertility and a humid and high temperature. Popular bajra dishes are Bhakri (a flatbread made with flour) and Kambu sadam (pearl millet rice).

Kodo: Generally called Kodan or Varagu in India this is a type of millet that is usually prepared like flavoured rice and savoury porridge.

Little Millet: Also called Sama and can be cultivated in a tropical climate. These little seeds are often substituted for semolina for upma, and rice for various varieties of flavoured rice.

Foxtail Millet: Also called Kangni in the Indian language this is a staple in many parts of south India. Generally, it is cooked like rice and served with dal or sambar.

Proso Millet: A type of millet that is extensively used in many culinary preparations.

What are the health benefits of millets?

Incorporating millets into your everyday diet will have a positive impact on health. Millets are a rich source of nutrients such as fibre, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and calcium.

Millets are becoming popular as an ideal option to help improve our health and the quality of our lives. The lower Glycemic Index helps lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

They are considered ideal for people who are trying to lose weight as the healthy carbs and high fibre help to keep a person full for hours and avoid munching on junk food. Thus millets help to combat obesity and make an ideal choice for health-conscious people.

How do I cook millets?

Most whole millets can be prepared like rice. Wash and cook 1 portion of millets with 2 portions of water. Cook with 3 portions of liquid to make a creamy breakfast porridge.

Millets in the form of whole and semolina make a great healthy substitution for rice and wheat in delicious dishes like kheer, flavoured rice, khichdi, dosa and idli. Millet flour is a great gluten-free option for flatbread and bakes too.