What are Millets
Millets are known to be one of the oldest cultivated grains. These drought-resistant grains are believed to be grown and eaten for thousands of years in South East Asia and Africa. Even today, millets are a staple in many parts of the world. This traditional grain is gaining huge popularity of late because of its nutritional values and health benefits associated with them. They are very versatile and are being adapted to modern-day cooking and dishes.
What is 'siridhanya'
Millets are classified into positive and neutral millets. Positive millets are higher in dietary fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients when compared to neutral millets. These positive millets are called 'siridhanya' and are considered to have therapeutic benefits and medicinal value in abundance. The ones that are siridhanya are foxtail millet, kodo millet, barnyard millet, little millet, and browntop millet. Not only is siridhanya more nutritious, but they are also known to be a sturdy crop that can grow in less fertile soil and in drought conditions. Neutral millets have lesser dietary fiber and nutrition when compared to the positive ones; however, they are more nutritious when compared to rice and wheat.
Health Benefits of Millets
Amongst grains, millets are considered superior in terms of nutrition and are rich in vitamins and minerals. There are several varieties of millet and are gaining popularity these days due to their health benefits and versatility. Each variety of millet carries its own health benefits, but largely they all promote good health and wellness.
Millets are gluten-free so are suitable if you are allergic to gluten or following a gluten-free diet. They have a lower glycemic index (GI) when compared to rice and wheat, and hence, help in controlling blood sugar levels. They also aid in weight loss as well as helps maintain energy levels.
Millets are rich in dietary fiber and help improve digestive health. They are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. They are a good source of plant-based protein that is suitable if you are a vegetarian or following a vegan diet. This nutrient-dense grain also improves the body's immune system and cardiovascular health.
I have written more about specific health benefits each variety carries in the recipe posts. You can find my millet recipe collection in the next section.
Millet Names in Indian Languages
|Barnyard Millet||Jhangora / Sanwa||Oodalu||Udalu||Kuthiraivali||-||-|
|Little Millet||Kutki / Shama||Saame||Sama||Samai||Sava||Kuri/Gajro|
Nutrition facts about millets
Here are the nutrition facts of millet in general (both whole and flour), along with some specific ones - ragi, bajra, and sanwa. These values are calculated for 100 grams serving size.
Whole millets nutrition
Millet flour nutrition
There is a wide range of dishes where different millet varieties are used traditionally. These days, their use has diversified and made its way to cookies, cakes, and more. Here are some of my recipes, both traditional and innovative, that use them. Happy cooking!
Yes. They are gluten-free grains.
Soaking millets before using them is good as it helps remove phytates. Soak them in filtered water for 6-8 hours. Rinse thoroughly before using them.
You can sprout millets just like other legumes. I have shared earlier how to sprout mung beans. Follow the same steps to sprout any millet variety.
While millet flours are readily available in the market, it is possible to mill them at home. It is also healthier as you can soak them and even sprout them before grinding. Make sure the soaked millet is fully dry before grinding. I have earlier shared how to make rice flour and millet flour can be made using the same process.
In India, millets are very easily available in most grocery stores. There are also several online stores selling them. Outside of India, you can buy a variety of them from Indian stores. With millets gaining so much popularity, they are also available in the Health section of many supermarkets. There are several online stores selling organic them too.
Yes, absolutely. Millet can replace rice in your regular diet. If you are soaking them, use 1:2 water and for unsoaked millet, use 1:3 water. If you soak them, drain the soaked water and rinse them with fresh water before cooking. The time taken to cook depends on the type of millet, but as a general guide, it should take 20-25 minutes on the stovetop.
Millets are nutritious grains that are gluten-free. If you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, they can be consumed as a source of plant-based protein. They are also suitable for gluten-free diets. This versatile grain can be used as a replacement for rice and wheat. From breakfast to dinner, there are so many ways you can include them in your diet. Use my recipes to include this superfood in your regular diet and bring in a healthy change to your diet.
Instant Ragi Dosa
- In a large bowl, combine ragi flour, rice flour, onion, curry leaves, chilli, coriander leaves, and salt. Mix well
- Add the yogurt and combine the mixture well
- Gradually add water and mix well to make a runny batter
- The batter should be very runny, almost like water
- Let it sit for 15 minutes
- Heat a tawa or griddle and lightly grease it with ghee
- Pour a ladle full of batter. Do not spread or swirl the batter
- Let it cook for 2-3 minutes
- Add ½ tsp ghee and let it cook for 1-2 minutes
- Carefully release the sides and fold the ragi dosa in half
- Take off the tawa
- Repeat with the rest of the batter. This batter should give you 7-8 dosas
- Serve hot with chutney of your choice