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Millets: The Magic of Indian Forgotten Foods

By Rashmi Rao

1 February, 2019

Know how ancient grains are in trend again! In today’s age where healthy eating, healthy living and super foods are buzz words, millets are an integral part of this ‘whole conversation’.  Widely grown around the world, millets are small seed grasses and cereal crops that have been in existence since time immemorial.  They served as fodder for several animals and birds apart from being fit for human consumption. Ancient food grains Known to grow in semi- arid and even drought conditions, millets have historically been one of the most sustainable and oldest crops known to mankind.  They grow well in high temperatures as well which are not sustained by crops like rice and wheat.  India has been one of the largest producers of millets and certain millets like finger millet (ragi) have always been an integral part of the South Indian diet. In fact, the names of several millets find mention in the ancient texts like the Yajurveda.  Apart from India, millets are grown extensively in countries like China, Ethopia, Sudan, Mali etc. Millets are a very important food and are predominantly gaining more importance in a world that is increasingly health conscious.  These crops are adapted to a wide range of temperatures, moisture-regimes and input conditions and therefore help supply food and feed to millions of dry land farmers, particularly in the developing world says Surya Shastry, Managing Director, Phalada Agro Research Foundation Pvt Ltd.   A world of goodness   Millets, BananiVissta Foxtail Millet Upma_Rava
Pic courtesy Kaulige foods Millets literally pack a punch when it comes to health benefits.  They are a rich source of fibre which makes it good for the digestive system.  Apart from having a high level of antioxidants, millets are rich in minerals namely magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium.  One of the most important benefits is the fact that its low glycaemic index makes it an excellent remedy for diabetes and hence is commonly used as a substitute for rice and wheat.   “Complimented by the fact that they are gluten free, they help address a wide range of issues starting from gluten intolerance, sugar spike post meal consumption and irritable bowel conditions.  Hence millets are being seen as the answer for various lifestyle conditions afflicting the population across cross sections like obesity, diabetes etc” says Arun Kaulige, Director, Kaulige Foods Pvt. Ltd.   Millets are known to be very good for heart health, to maintain cholesterol levels, strengthen immunity and helps ease gastrointestinal problems.  It is little wonder that millets are called “miracle grains”!   Variety and Innovation   Millets, bananivissta Jowar
Pic courtesy Kaulige foods Apart from finger millet (ragi), proso millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet and little millet are some of the popular varieties of millets that are available in India.  Bajra (Pearl millet) and Jowar (Sorghum) are yet other commonly consumed millets in India.  With each of them having unique health benefits, millets are increasingly finding their way not only in the kitchens of our homes but also in restaurants.  More and more restaurants are having millet dishes on their menus.  "Millets can replace rice and wheat in a big way in our traditional dishes like Bisi bele baath, pongal, idli and dosa. They are also amenable to preparing cakes, breads, pizzas etc. to suit the modern palate" says Arun.   With its increasing popularity, there is a big wave of innovation in the world of millets.  You have millet bread, millet muffins, millet biryani and even millet ready to eat mixes. “We have launched ready to cook millets products like millet khichdi, multi millet kheer and ragi porridge which is a highly convenient option for customers” says Shastry.  To satisfy your sweet tooth, go in for millet desserts like millet payasam, halwa and even laddus! Millets, bananivissta High Fibre Millet cake
Pic courtesy Kaulige foods Eating out and millets While several star restaurants and hotel chains have incorporated millet dishes in their main stream menus, there are several restaurants, cafes and kiosks in Bangalore that serve exclusive millet specialities.  Here are some of them.
  • Kaulige Millet Corner: St. Patrick's complex, Brigade Road
  • Kaulige Millet Corner: Chamarajpet
  • Millet Mama: Basavanagudi
  • Prem's Graama Bhojanam: Jayanagar 7th block
  • The Green Path Organic State: Sampige Road
  • Vaathsalya Millet Cafe: J P nagar
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