The Millet White Paper Project – Part 1

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Read full article By Shauravi Malik and Sohini Dey@SlurrpFarm Photo Credit: SlurrpFarm

At Laksh Farms, a sprawling oasis in Delhi’s outskirts, verdant with crops and trees, Ila and Captain Shakti Lumba grow finger millet (ragi) in summers. For Ila Lumba, growing the crop is like going back in time. “I didn’t grow up with bajra or foxtail millet…I was a total city slicker,” she says. “But my grandmother, who was from Uttarakhand, would make kodo ki rotis when I was young. Remembering that, I said to myself, ‘let’s try to grow it here!’” A decade later, Laksh Farm’s ragi sells like hotcakes at farmers’ markets in Delhi.

Meanwhile, in Bengaluru, nutritionist and food blogger Nandita Iyer discovered the magic of millets in her quest for healthy, delicious meals. Born and brought up in Mumbai, the rice used to be the mainstay of her diet. She says, “I wasn’t fond of eating white rice through the week. I picked a few types of millets and found it interesting. I started with foxtail millet and would then order different millets each time.” Saffron Trail, Iyer’s uber popular blog abounds in millet recipes, from foxtail millet and basil patties to ragi ginger cookies.

The rise of millets

Suddenly millets are everywhere – if you know where to look. Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt swears by ragi chips in health websites and fashion magazines. Gourmet chefs are adding millet to an array of recipes, from pakode and biryani to risotto and brownies.

In Sikkim, millet may have been traditionally used for local brews (known as chaang), but now these grains are also key ingredients in the recipes of microbreweries in Bengaluru and Pune. There are restaurants, culinary workshops, recipe books, cooking groups, exhibitions and even a marathon dedicated to promoting the super grains for their nutritional benefits and sustainable production.

But millets are neither new nor exotic to India. Remember your grandmother swearing by millet porridge or delighting you with millet rotis in winter? Turns out, they were right about their staple foods. These ancient grains are treasure troves health benefits and their revival reflects a contemporary zeitgeist towards sustainability and returns to traditional habits.

The millet white paper project

It is an attempt at documenting the multifarious benefits of these grains—nutritional, environmental and pertaining to food security—at a time when millets are regaining attention across the globe. In these times, how can a small company like Slurrp Farm be at the forefront of product innovation using millets, and contribute to the education of today’s consumers by sharing their honest intentions behind making quality products for the mass retail market, is the question this project hopes to answer.

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Posted on

April 25, 2020

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