Food & Nutrition Superfoods

How to Start With Millets

Everyone is talking about millets! The UN has declared 2023 ‘The Year of Millets’. In the Budget speech, the finance minister mentioned that India wants to be the global hub for millets.

But if you were thinking this is a recent fad, that’s not true. This ancient grain has been grown and eaten in India for 4000+ years.

Are millets really a supergrain?

Surprisingly, yes! Their biggest benefit is that as a complex, fibre-rich carb, they have a low glycemic index. Which means they don’t spike blood sugar levels as much as other grains and are very diabetes-friendly. Millets are also gluten-free and rich in protein, iron, zinc, calcium, and minerals.

I’m sold! How do I include them in my diet?

Most of us are used to the taste of rice and wheat. MIllets taste slightly earthier and nuttier. If you love the taste at first try, then awesome. But most beginners take a while to adjust to the new taste.

Here are 5 ways to start eating millets

#1. We’ll start with the easiest. Instead of instant noodles or plain hakka noodles (which are made of maida), buy ready-to-cook millet noodles. These come with and without masala sachets and can be cooked the same way. Add lots of veggies or eggs and enjoy a delicious, significantly healthier meal!

Shop millet noodles

#2. Eat chapatis every day? Replace 30% of the atta with millet flour and make chapatis as usual. Once you get used to the rich, earthier taste, increase the proportion slowly. For beginners, we recommend jowar (sorghum) or bajra (pearl millet) flour.

Shop millet flours

#3. When making idli batter, replace rice with whole millets. A proportion that works well is 3 cups millets, 1 cup urad dal, 3/4th cup thick aval/poha. Soak and grind them separately. We recommend foxtail (thinai) or little millet (samai) for beginners.

Shop whole millets

#4. If pongal and khichdi are your one-pot comfort meals, sub out the rice with millets. They’ll taste just as amazing with a subtle nutty flavour.

#5. Prefer a light breakfast? Try ragi malt/kanji, a porridge made from ragi (finger millet). You can make it sweet or savoury. Here are both recipes.

a. Sweet ragi kanji: Mix 4 spoons of ragi flour in water to form a thin, lump-free paste. Bring 2 cups of water to full boil and add this slurry, sitting continuously. Keep the flame on low. Soon the mix will thicken and the raw taste will disappear. Add milk (optional), jaggery, cardamom powder, nut slivers, and enjoy!
Total cooking time: 10-12 mins

b. Savoury ragi kanji: Follow the same steps as above. In the last stage, skip the jaggery, etc. and add chopped onions, buttermilk, curry leaves, and salt to taste.

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Some Millet FAQs — Answered

1. Do millets need to be soaked before cooking?

Millets can be washed and cooked directly but it’s good if you can soak them for at least 2 hours. Soaking gets rid of phytic acid (present in all unprocessed grains and nuts) and makes the millets easier to digest.

2. How much of millets should I include in my diet?

A balanced diet is, well — balanced. This means you don’t consume too much of anything, including millets. Having a millet-based meal 4-5 times a week is enough for you to start seeing benefits.

3. Are millets safe for everyone?

Millets have a definite impact on blood sugar. i.e., they lower blood sugar spikes. They’re also rich in protein, iron, and calcium. So if you have low sugar, kidney/gall bladder stones or kidney disease, or are pregnant, definitely speak to your doctor on the right way to include millets in your diet.

Still curious? Learn more.

Millet varieties, nutrition profile, comparison with rice & wheat, and more

Read now

1 comment on “How to Start With Millets

  1. Very useful guidance on what are millets, their benefits and how to use these in our daily diet. Thanks for this thoughtful write up. Makes it very easy to include different millets in our diet now.

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