The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2023 as the Millet Year, shining a light on this crop prevalent in Africa and Southeast Asia. This attention has revived millets from historical obscurity. India leads in millet production globally. Despite this, millet consumption in the country has markedly declined. Unlike water-intensive crops like wheat and rice, millets demand less water and endure higher temperatures due to their climate-resilient nature. This attribute is particularly advantageous for tropical countries like India, facing escalating temperatures due to global warming.
Millets' resource-efficient growth aids in conservation efforts. Their dietary advantages are significant. Unlike other staple foods, millets are easily digestible and slow-release, benefiting those with diabetes. Rich in fibre, antioxidants, calcium, iron, and protein, they are gluten-free as well. Millets, an integral part of Indian cuisine for centuries, are gaining overdue recognition. India's millet consumption is gradually resurging.
Two millet categories exist naked and husk grains, offering diversity. India's vast millet variety encompasses ragi, bajra, jowar, foxtail millet, proso millet, kodo, little millets, barnyard, buckwheat, and amaranth.
Efforts to raise awareness about these nutritious superfoods abound. Traditional millet-based Indian dishes are regaining popularity. Millet products are increasingly available online and in physical stores. Prominent eateries curate millet-centric menus and host festivals celebrating their health benefits.
Renowned Chef Sudhir Pai, a millet advocate, emphasises the culinary community's role in reintegrating millets into Indian diets and kitchens. He expresses his thoughts, "As chefs, in the food space, we must curate dishes that are wholesome, nutritious and delicious. We must continuously innovate to reintroduce millet, the overlooked superfood, to Indian tables. We must continuously innovate to reintroduce millets, the overlooked superfood, to Indian tables."
Here are a few easy-to-make and delicious millet-based recipes you should try
1. Bajra raab
An age-old Indian winter beverage, this treat is crafted from pearl millet and enhanced with the richness of jaggery. The resulting drink offers delightful sweetness, free from health concerns. Experiment with this recipe to savour guilt-free, delectable goodness, without the worry of excess calories.
2. Ragi dosa
South Indian food is known for having really healthy dishes. Foods like dosas, idlis, and appams are already seen as good choices for health. And now, these foods have become even healthier for people who want to get more nutrients. A good option is the ragi dosa. Instead of using the usual rice or semolina flour, this dosa is made with ragi, a kind of millet that South Indian families have been using for a long time. You can try making this dosa to enjoy the tasty goodness of millet.
3. Foxtail millet upma
A common South Indian dish, foxtail millet upma, has been a part of South Indian homes for a long time. It's now popular all over India due to its lightness and delicious taste. When you try it, you'll love the combination of its light texture and flavorful taste. Give it a shot with this quick recipe and you might just make it your new breakfast staple.
4. Nachni chips
Nachni chips, also known as ragi chips, are a common snack in Indian homes. The millets used in these chips make them more nutritious compared to regular chips. When you're in the mood for some classic junk food, these wholesome chips are a great choice. You might find yourself loving these healthy chips and making them your new favourite snack. Here's a quick way to make it.
5. Ragi mudde
Ragi mudde is a traditional favourite for breakfast or lunch, offering a hearty meal. It consists of balls made from ragi dough, served with a stew or gravy. This intriguing dish is well-liked in various South Indian areas. When you try it, you'll not only enjoy its delicious South Indian flavour but also benefit from the goodness of millet. Here's how to make it.
6. Khata vada
Khata vada, also referred to as Desai vada, is a much-loved and widely recognized Gujarati delicacy. Crafted from jowar, these vadas are a customary evening snack enjoyed in Gujarati homes across India. Their delectable taste has garnered them a fan base beyond Gujarat as well. Accompanied by flavorful chutneys, these jowar vadas are so irresistible that stopping at just one might be a challenge.
Bhakri is a renowned treat enjoyed in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and various other places. Crafted from jowar flour, this flatbread is considered heartier and more nourishing than wheat rotis. A cherished addition to numerous kitchens, Bhakri can be paired with various accompaniments. One delightful combination is to serve bhakri with steaming traditional Indian vegetables, fiery green chillies known as thecha, and a delightful garlic chutney. In many Maharashtrian homes, this comforting meal holds a special place as one of their all-time favourite dishes.