Come January each year, every one makes some kind of resolution and more often than not, change in food habits is a part of those resolutions.

Every year you see trends popping up on the food scene, Cauliflower rice, Zucchini noodles, Kombucha and so on, some stay and some vanish with time. However there are certain foods that have stood the test of time, not just for a few years but thousands of years. One such group of food is Millets. Millets have been grown and consumed for over 10,000 years and India is one of the largest producers of Millets

Although Millets are generally used and looked at as a cereal, they are in fact from the grasses family. In this post we will talk, discuss, fall in love yet again with some of the millets commonly available.

Why Millets?

Good for environment & the farmers

  • Needs 1/15 th Water to grow 1 kg of Millet compared to Rice or Wheat
  • Millet crop can withstand higher temp up to 115F vs rice/wheat at 99 F
  • Millets can be grown pretty much in any type of soil, even saline soil
  • Millet grains don”t go bad easily, can be eaten even after 10-12 years reducing food wastage

Packed with Nutrition

  • High levels of calcium compared to rice & wheat
  • Packed with Amino acids, Iron and other nutrients like phosphorus
  • High levels of biological value protein
  • Gluten-free
  • Alkaline
  • High fibre
  • Low Glycemic Index

Types of Millets

Jowar or Sorghum

Growing up in Solapur Jowar Bhakri (Sorghum flat bread) was something we ate as much if not more than the wheat roti or rice. Its still my most favorite bread in the world. I have a video on how to make this bread.

Sorghum is a super grain that has low glycemic index, full of fibre making it a great choice for a healthy diet. I not only include it as a bread but also make Granola and also a savory with it. Jowar flour can be quickly made into ‘Ambil’ a savory breakfast pudding from Maharshtra.

Bajra or Pearl Millet

Although we enjoyed Jowar Bhakri all year long, come winters we would switch to Bajri Bhakri. It is believed that Bajra is ‘Hot’ in nature and hence perfect for the winter months. Its often eaten with Jaggery which also is believed to have ‘Hot’ properties.

Bajra or Pearl millet is one of the most commonly used millets in India. Bajra Khichadi, a risotto like dish made with the millet and some lentils is a perfectly nutritious and comforting dish found in every household in Western India, often served with ghee, raita, pickle and salad, its a complete meal.

I love sprouting the Bajra to make salads, and even make sprouted millet flour for my pancakes.

Finger Millet

Popularly known as Ragi or Nachni in India, this mustard seed like grain is a power house.

Baryard Millet

Its a type of Pearl millet but smaller in size

Little Millet

Commonly known as Sama ke chawal( in Hindi) or Varai in Marathi, this millet is often consumed during fasting for festivals like Navratri. It can be used as Sooji or cream of wheat

There are many other millets that are used in the traditional Indian cooking. Earthy in taste and with a great texture, they are a versatile option and great alternative to the usual wheat, rice.

You can easily modify many recipes to incorporate Millets easily.

What does Ayurveda say about millets ?

From an Ayurvedic point of view, millet is considered to be Sweet, Heating, Dry and Light. This makes it a rather special grain because it has the satisfying, nourishing effect of the Sweet taste but at the same time is light, easy to digest. Due to its light, heating and drying effect, millet is used as ‘food medicine’ in the treatment of high Ama, dull Agni, diabetes, excess weight, oedema and other excess Kapha (mucous/fluid) conditions. If eaten in excess it may aggravate Vata or Pitta but if soaked and then cooked with a little oil and some cooling spices (like fennel and coriander), it is can be transformed into a relatively tridoshic grain.

Millet recipes

I worked with 24 Mantra Organic, a company from India which focuses on bringing such products to the market and with complete transparency. I created four recipes using various kinds of Millets. Here are the links

Ragi Parfait

Mexican Salad rolls

Foxtail millet risotto