This “miracle grain” has not gotten enough of the attention it deserves. Rice and wheat industry has just marginalized these healthy grains out of visibility. Watch this excellent video:
Millets are loaded with protein, calcium, and many other nutrients. For example, compared with wheat, finger millet has 10x the calcium, and pearl millet has 3x the iron. In India and China, since ancient times, it has been the staple food, i.e. before the industrialization of rice and wheat on massive scales. Ever since people took to whatever the rice and wheat industry was shoving on our plates, millet earned the reputation of being branded as the “poor mans food”.
Millet has also been the primary food for toddlers (thereby busting the myth that milk is essential for strong bones, teeth, and development). It is also recommended for expectant mothers. Helps develop muscles, bones, and contributes to very little to body fat (compared with wheat and rice, whose carbohydrates get rapidly absorbed by the body, excess converted to fat). Also a good alternative to those who have gluten allergy.
I don’t have anything against rice or wheat. For instance, even within rice, so many nutritious varieties of rice have been marginalized and forgotten due to industrial process whose focus is on mass production. Variety is important, especially when in millions of years of human evolution if our body/digestive system is tuned towards grains like millets, and suddenly it is bombarded with polished white rice and processed wheat flour (both stripped of all vital nutrition, leaving nothing but carbohydrates), then it is going to be thrown out of gear… causing all the health problems we facing today.
There are a number of varieties of millet. In order of popularity in southern India:
- Finger Millet (கேழ்வரகு/கேப்பை, रागी)
- Sorghum (சோளம், ज्वार)
- Pearl Millet (கம்பு, बाजरा)
- Foxtail Millet (தினை, कन्ग्नि)
- Little Millet (சாமை, कुत्कि)
I’ve been into millets since 2010 — using it wherever I can: idli, bread, roti, steamed bread (mantou), porridge, dumplings, etc. An easy way to get millet into your diet if you’re from Southern India, is in idli. I just replace the rice portion of the traditional rice:urad = 3:1 ratio with a 2:1 or 1:1 mixture of rice and millet. As a side, mung idli, rice:mung:urad=2:1:1 is also super nutritious (the measure of mung is dry mung beans, which you have to sprout before mixing together; then mix with the fermented rice:urad component and grind into idli batter).
BTW, I found the Lakshmi brand ragi flour is the worst — in three different purchases in the past 2-3 years, it consistently had a lot of siliceous particles. Nirpara was no better — it also had lot of siliceous particles (in the one time I bought it). I switched to organic ragi from 24mantra — have bought from them 3 times, and no dirt so far. Also came across another organic source, Conscious Foods, I haven’t tried yet.