Packed with pearl power                    

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Read full article By Anushreee Madhavan  @ The New Indian Express Photo Credit: TNIE

Pearl millet, popularly known as bajra or kambu, is called the magic millet as it is highly nutritious, easy to digest, and has a host of benefits.

CHENNAI: A tall glass of kambankoozhu (pearl millet porridge), garnished with a generous helping of finely chopped onion and grated raw mango and carrot what is summer in Chennai without this staple drink. A traditional breakfast in many Tamil households during this time of the year, that also makes an annual appearance on street carts, this pearly-looking millet is the kind of coolant our body needs to stay hydrated.

“Due to its inherent nutritional value and its ability to tackle body heat, kambu is the second most important food in Tamil Nadu that is consumed predominantly during the summer season, especially in the form of Kambankoozhu (porridge)” writes Indra Narayan in her e-cookbook Millet Kitchen – The Simple Art of Millet Cooking.

Pearl millet, popularly known as bajra or kambu, is called the magic millet as it is highly nutritious, easy to digest, and has a host of benefits. The traditional crop is widely cultivated in Villupuram, Thoothukudi and Madurai. Home-chef and author Indra, also an advocate for consuming locally grown foods, says, “Pearl millets are especially power-packed with carbohydrates, essential amino acids, antioxidants, multiple vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin, beta carotene and minerals like iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.”

Benefits aplenty

– It is good for a diabetic diet as the carbohydrates in this are digested slowly and help maintain a stable glucose level.
– It is beneficial for heart health. Kambu has cholesterol-lowering properties and is good for heart patients. As it also contains an adequate amount of good fat, it is good for patients
with high cholesterol.
– It is the perfect grain for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
– Therapeutic for people with frequent acidity and stomach ulcers.
– The high phosphorus content in kambu helps make the bones stronger, especially in growing children.
– It has a good amount of dietary fibre and hence helps in relieving constipation.
– It makes for nutritious baby food.
– Kambu is rich in antioxidants and helps fight ageing.
– Ideal food for weight management.
– A healthy choice for pregnant and nursing mothers.
– Make the switch
– You can make the switch to millets by starting with little millet and then work your way up to other millets. Start with idlis as they are steamed and easy for the body to accept and nourish. Then, gradually, – you can make dosas, upmas etc. You can even bake cakes and cookies with kambu.

Word of caution

Before moving from rice to millets, do thorough blood work to check all your parameters. Also, talk to your doctor about opting for millets. When you use millets, never mix different millets in your diet. Each millet has different digestive properties and it may not always suit your body. Soak the millets for five-six hours before cooking them because it can cause bloating otherwise. This is one of the reasons, it is suggested to start consuming millets by making them as idlis, because it goes through the soaking and fermentation process


Posted on

May 12, 2021

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