10 January 2014

Millets - How to incorporate them in your diet

Kodo Millet (Aarika)
Millets: Bajra, Jowar, Barley, Ragi, this is how I was familiar with them. We didn't eat them growing up; while Ragi was a major part of my Grandmother's diet, somehow by our time, rice and wheat were our major cereals. I tasted Ragi twice as a child, as a mude (round ball), and didn't care much for swallowing a tasteless paste. That's the problem with Millets in general, flavour. It could also be that since I didn't grow up eating them, I hadn't developed a taste for it.

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)
for rice is possible, but not tasty. I usually make two types of rice dishes with millets - Khichadi (good old pongal types with moong dal; mix up various millets + rice), or pulav (pictured here, Mushroom/ Carrot/ Peas pulav. Everything about cooking it is similar to rice, except increasing the amount of water)
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).


  1. I use them only during summer that too in powder form. Let me try this.

  2. @ monsince27

    I forgot to mention - Ragi Malt? Maybe, that's the version you use? It's great in a milk drink with some bournvita for colour.

  3. I have been wanting to include millets in our diet for long but somehow I keep delaying it! Nutrition, eco-friendly, farmer-friendly - thats enough reason we should consume it! Do u use brown rice?

  4. Hi Gayatri,

    No, we don't use brown rice. We use hand-pounded Rajmudi rice - so it's not entirely polished, nor is it whole rice. This goes well with our regular dals, Sambar, Rasam etc so it can be consumed everyday. I only enjoy brown rice with coconut based thai curries or in soups; it's too grainy for regular indian stuff.

  5. Have you tried ordering millets through Kaulige Foods (http://kaulige.com)? They do home delivery of Millets throughout Bangalore.


  6. Hi Adithya,

    No I haven't tried home delivery yet. Thanks for the alert.