Types of Millets – The Big Deal about Small Grains

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Read full article By Sree Devi Lakshmikutty @ BioBasics Photo Credit: BioBasics

What are Millets?

The types of millets are many.  Millets are hardy grasses with small seeds that grow well in dry zones as rain-fed crops, often where rice and wheat do not grow. They are one of the oldest foods known to humans and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes. Millets like foxtail, little, kodo, proso, barnyard have a shiny outer cover- husk (like paddy rice). The husk is non-edible, so these millets need to be de-hulled and made into rice, ravaor flour. Finger millet, pearl millet and jowar (sorghum) are naked grains without husk (like wheat).

Types of Millets and their names in different Indian languages

Foxtail MilletKakumKorraThinaiNavaneNagli
Little MilletKutkiSamaluSamaiSameSava
Pearl MilletBajraSajjaKambuSajjeJawari
ProsoMilletChenaVarigaPani VaraguBaraguVari
Barnyard MilletSanwaUdhaluKuthiraivaaliOodhalu
Finger MilletRagiRagiKeppai/ KezhvaraguRagiNachani

Nutritional Benefits

Milletsare considered the most digestible of all grains and less likely to cause allergies. They do not contain any gluten, a wheat protein that is hard for the human body to digest.

All types of millets are particularly high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous andpotassium. Millets, due to complex carbohydrates, keep us feeling full for a long period of time unlike paddy rice (which contains simple carbohydrates). They also have more bran/fibre and a lower glycaemic index making them good for diabetics. In addition to this, Millets contain multiple vitamins that are necessary to maintain good gut heath!

As an example of how nutrient dense millets are, let’s consider Ragi. Currently, most urban societies believe that milk is the main source of calcium. But Ragi/Finger millet is the richer in calcium content by10 times that of rice or wheat and 3 times that of milk!

Here is a comparison of nutritional content of millets vsrice and wheat

Crop / nutrientProtein (g)Fiber(g)Minerals (g)Iron (mg)Calcium (mg)
Pearl millet10.61.32.316.938
Finger millet7.
Foxtail millet12.383.32.831
Little millet7.
Barnyard millet11.210.14.415.211
Source: Millet Network of India

Cooking with Millets

Millets can be consumed on a daily basis like any other grain. They are available as rice, rava(of various grades) & flour. They are also available in raw and parboiled form. Normally most millet ricescan be cooked just like paddy rice (usually with 1:2.5 rice to water ratio).

They can also be used for preparing dosaand idlibatter by soaking and grinding along with uraddal and fenugreek! With these versatile millets, you can prepare upma, porridge, puttu, adai, and various other delicacies like laddus, kesari, payasam, cakes and so on.

Price and Availability

Millet products are comparatively more expensive thanpaddy rice or wheat because the millet grains are small and hence more difficult to process compared to paddy. Government investment on millet processing and promotion has been minimal unlike for paddy and wheat.

Traditionally people processed all types of millets manually, but this is not possible now, so small machines are being developed. Local farmer groups from where we get our millets, has fine tunedthe processing in a way that only de husking of the millets is done, and no polishing, to retain its nutritive goodness. Therefore, you will find the millets offered by us have more bran.

Bio Basics offers a whole wide variety of millet products ranging from whole unpolished millet rices(both raw and parboiled), millet ravas, millet flakes/pohasand ready to eat mixes for your convenience!


Posted on

October 22, 2020

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