Food & Nutrition Superfoods

Little Millet – A Dietary Superfood

Little Millet, Samalu, Sama or Samai rice, is a commonly used grain in the southern part of India. As a member of the small millets group, it is known to be nutritionally superior to rice and wheat. Being one of the few cereal crops that do not demand much, this wonder can grow well in the poorest of soils with little rainfall.

It is known by other names such as ‘Kuri’ in Hindi, ‘Gajro’ in Gujrati, ‘Save’ in Maharashtra and ‘Suan’ in Odissa.

Setting it apart

This millet is grown widely in Sri Lanka, India and Western Myanmar. As a gluten-free and alkaline grain, it is best suggested during summer to keep our bodies cooler. The staple is a good source of protein for vegetarians, as it is known for its health benefits and is suitable for people of all ages.

Samai stands out to be one of our “indigenous superfoods”, making it suitable for large-scale production of snacks, baby foods and processed food products.

Medicinal value

Little millet is packed with a variety of medical benefits! It is high in minerals like magnesium, iron and potassium. The phosphorus content helps with fat metabolism, body tissue repair and energy production. Having a low glycemic index, this goodness is a ‘smart carbohydrate’ with loads of dietary fibre and is also low in sugar, making it valuable for diabetics.

It contains nearly twice the amount of fibre than that of other cereals which helps lower cholesterol and improve heart health by reducing the chances of coronary artery disease. Dietitian Shibani Talpade informs, “Little millet is packed with iron and antioxidant that reduces colon cancer as well as slows down muscle degeneration.” It is rich in Vitamin B3 and phenolic compounds, indicating antioxidant activity.

Sowing and Irrigation

Sama is generally sown during mid of June in Odisha. While in Tamil Nadu, sowing happens in the month of June and then again in September and October. In MP, Karnataka, and South Bihar, the last week of June to the first week of July is desired to avoid damage from maggots.

Nutritionist Tejashree Bobde of Minerva Essential informs, “Little millet is another reliable catch crop in view of its resistance to unfavorable agro-climatic conditions, whether it is high-drought or it is waterlogged areas.  It can even grow in mediocre soil without much rainfall. Generally, just one to two irrigation is sufficient for this grain.”


The crop is mostly ready for harvest in 70-90 days after sowing when the top half of the seed-heads have turned yellow. Post-harvest, the crops are threshed and then ground.

Nutritional Facts

Sama is a fibrous millet and according to research, it has been reported to have about 40% dietary fibre, which is the highest among the cereals. 

Nutrition in 100 grams of Little Millet

Calcium 17mg
Protein 7.7gms
Minerals 1.5gms
Fibre 7.6gms
Carbohydrate 65gms
Calories 207
Iron 9.3mg
Phosphorus 220mg
Energy 329kcal


Samai Delights

As a nutritionist, Tejashree Bobde offers a recipe for Samai Porridge. Take one cup of little millet, one cup of coconut milk and salt to taste. Cook the millet in four cups of water and add coconut milk to it. Boil for another 10 minutes. Cool it and serve with salt.
In Gujarat, it is used to prepare puri and paratha by mixing its powdered form with the dough before kneading, making it extra nutritious.
In South India, it is used for upma and porridge, making it wholesome meal for the entire family.

Incorporate little millet in your diet and reap its health benefits!

Click here to know about Bajra – The nutritious pearl shaped millet

1 comment on “Little Millet – A Dietary Superfood

  1. Sundarram k s

    Great.!!! Your writings not only nourish our health but also our mind. Keep it up.

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