|Kodo Millet (Aarika)|
Barley was my first foray into millet land - when I was in London, S and E introduced it to me as a cutlet, a recipe I later modified and adapted for my kitchen as Barley Cutlets.
When I began trolling organic shops in India, I came across a much wider breadth. Slowly, over time, I have modified some things in our kitchen to increase our intake of millets.
Okay, why the bruhaha about millets?
One: They are super nutritious; cup for cup they have more protein, and nutrients than polished rice. Two: They are indigenous Indian plants and require much less water to grow. Three: They were the major cereals that Indians consumed, till the government decided to subsidize rice and wheat production in big way. All that farmer distress - it's caused by poor policy. There is no incentive for a farmers to grow what is suitable for the land that they have. Rather, by making available cheap seeds of only a certain kind and cheap fertilizer, without providing the heavy water resources that may be required, the Govt has created a market only for certain products. So, buying and eating millets is not only good for you, it encourages farmers because they have a market for a crop that requires much less resources.
How to incorporate them in your family's diet?
Millets are available in three forms - Whole (as a rice), Flour, Semolina (rava)
Here's what we do in our diet:
1. Cook Millet rice with a bit of ghee/ butter and salt. That marginally improves it for consumption. Substituting this
|Mushroom, peas, carrot pulav with Aarika (Kodo Millet)|
2. Using Millet rice in dosa and idli batter. Recipe blogged here.
3. Flours can be added into your regular atta dough. Keep the ratio of wheat: other atta at 2:1, else the roti will turn out hard and if not consumed right away, can be used as a frisbee. The millet dough itself stays for a while in the fridge. Variations: Ragi flour can be added to regular dosa batter to make ragi dosa.
4. Rava can be used to make upma and payasam/kheer. Warning: The taste of millet rava is not as smooth as wheat or rice rava. In upma therefore you might want to ease in the quantity of millet rava you use. However, millet rava takes more water to cook. In payasam, the sweet flavour (jaggery) and nuts (badam, kaju) will compensate for the texture of the rava. The payasam is probably the first thing to try if you want to introduce your family to millets. If they like the first item, there will be a positive association with millets!
Excited? Where to buy millets?
In Bangalore, organic shops dotted all over the city carry millet rice, flour and rava. Things like Sattu ka Atta or Ragi flour, you will even find in your regular MK Bazaar types. We patronize two millet producers: Timbaktu Organic and Earth 360 (Check this link out for nutritional info).