I have been experimenting cooking with several millets. My typical South Indian diet has a lot of rice in it every day. There’s also a lot of wheat because of my whole wheat bakes, chapatti (Indian flat bread), bread and pasta. So I realized there is very little variety in my diet. I decided to introduce my family to different grains whenever possible.
Millets are one of the oldest foods known to humans and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes. They are highly nutritious, non-glutinous and not acid forming foods. Hence they are soothing and easy to digest. They are considered to be the least allergenic and most digestible grains available. Compared to rice, especially polished rice, millets release lesser percentage of glucose and over a longer period of time. Millets are particularly high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.
Unlike rice and wheat that require many inputs in terms of soil fertility and water, millets grow well in dry regions as rainfed crops. By eating millets, we will be encouraging farmers in dryland areas to grow crops that are best suited for those regions. This is a step towards sustainable cropping practices where by introducing diversity in our diets, we respect the biodiversity in nature rather than forcefully changing cropping patterns to grow wheat and rice everywhere .(Source)
One of the millets I have tried is Foxtail Millet. One of our friends told me about this wonderful grain and how tasty it is. I immediately bought a pack of it from our organic store. This millet has a soft creamy taste almost like Couscous. Foxtail millet which once was a staple in parts of North Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and even Tamil Nadu is now not as popular as rice.
I have used foxtail millet in a Pongal here. Pongal is a traditional Tamil recipe where rice and split yellow lentil is cooked together till soft and then tempered with some simple spices. I call it the Indian Risotto. It’s creamy and soothing with not many spices. Traditionally Ghee is used in the recipe but for a Vegan option use oil instead. Finger Millet lends itself perfectly well in this recipe. It’s softer and creamier than rice which is exactly how pongal should be. I also used some fresh green peas which are in season for some colour. Sweetness of plump peas gives a great burst of sweetness when you bite into it too.
This is a simple recipe which is easy to make on a busy weekday. It’s perfect for cold evenings as a bowl of this is soothing and comforting. Serve with a generous dollop of good South Indian pickle and it’s sure to warm you up on cold December nights.
I would also like to tell you all that I might not be able to post recipe frequently till the first week of January. My darling cousin is getting married on the 1st of Jan and I am going to be too busy cooking/baking/eating/drinking and generally having a great time. Will try to take some pictures of all the food that’s going to be prepared and share it with you all when I am back!
Wishing Happy holidays and a wonderful New Year to all my readers …
- ½ cup foxtail millet
- ½ cup split yellow lentils (moong dal)
- 1 cup fresh green peas
- 1 tbsp oil/ghee
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 10-12 black pepper corns
- A spring of curry leaves
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
Dry roast the yellow lentil till golden brown. Place the lentils and millets with 3 cups of water and cook till soft. I used a pressure cooker which reduced the cooking time. cook the green peas separately till almost cooked.
Heat oil/ghee in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add the cumin seeds and black pepper corns. When it starts to splutter add the ginger and curry leaves and fry for a few seconds. Now add the cooked lentil and millet mixture. Pour the boiled peas with the water it’s boiled in. add the turmeric powder and season with salt. Mix everything together. It has to have a risotto like creamy consistency. Add more water if required.
Serve hot with a spicy pickle or chutney.