Read full article By Sahana Iyer @The New Indian Express Photo Credit: TNIE
Nutritious and versatile, panivaragu is a short season crop, which produces white, yellow, red, or black seeds.
CHENNAI: White millet, common millet, broomcorn millet, hog millet…all names lead to one hidden gem of the millet family Proso. In India, you might recognise it by one of its many local names, including panivaragu in Tamil, varigalu in Telugu, cheno in Gujarati, varai in Marathi, and barri in Hindi. Nutritious and versatile, panivaragu is a short season crop, which produces white, yellow, red, or black seeds.
It is grown in several states, including Madhya Pradesh, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. While the common uses of panivaragu are unfortunately often restricted to bird feed, it is, in fact, a diverse ingredient to be used in the kitchen in savoury and sweet dishes alike. One can make khichdi, idli, roti, and samosa, as well as barfi and payasam.
Full of fibre, carbohydrates, proteins, fatty acids, and nutrients, panivaragu is a healthy addition to your daily diet. “Panivaragu is high in fibre and contains B Complex vitamins (including niacin and thiamine) that are very rarely available naturally. The millet is also good for those with diabetes and people who want to lose weight,” explains N Vijayashree, chief dietician at MGM Healthcare, Chennai. “There are often wrong notions that you cannot eat panivaragu daily.
According to my Ayurvedic doctors, you can consume the millet every day without any side effects. If someone is very new to millets, they can drink a cup of hot water to help with digestion. You must ensure to soak it for at least five hours, and then, grind and ferment it to be made into idli, dosa, etc,” mentions Indra Narayan, a home cook (@indranarayan) and the author of ebook Millet Kitchen: The Simple Art of Millet Cooking. She further elaborates on the benefits of eating proso millet.
Aids nervous system
The presence of a complex compound in panivaragu called Lecithin is known to indirectly stimulate and ensure smooth functioning of the nervous system.
A daily portion of panivaragu can reduce the deficiency of niacin or vitamin B3 in the body, which will aid in skincare. A reliable source of antioxidants, the millet also helps in removing free radicals from the body
that can contribute to ageing and other illnesses, including cancer and autoimmune diseases.
A gluten-free solution
Since the millet is completely gluten-free, it is a great food source for those suffering from gluten intolerance or following a gluten-free diet. People with celiac disease an immune reaction
to consuming gluten can use panivaragu as an alternative to millets such as wheat or rye.
Panivaragu contains a potent dose of magnesium, which helps to keep a check on glucose and control healthy insulin levels.
Keeps cholesterol in check
There is a phytochemical in panivaragu called the phytic acid that can reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the body. This benefit of the millet is known to show signs quickly.