With rising health issues, water shortage, and food safety concerns, it is high time we gave millets the attention they deserve.
Millets have for long been a staple food grown and consumed in India. May it be bajra, jowar, or ragi, millets have been an integral part of local food cultures and have proven to be super crops. Not only are millets extremely nutritious and good for health but they also use less water for cultivation, and can be stored and consumed for years.
Over the past few decades, however, both the consumption and cultivation of millets have witnessed steep decline. We did increase the production of rice and wheat drastically, but the millet was left behind. Our production of millets dropped from 40 to 20 percent during the time period of the Green Revolution, partially due to state policies, but also due to a bias among urban consumers who consider millets substandard food.
There is now, however, an increased global demand for millets, with more people beginning to realise their health and lifestyle benefits. The Karnataka Government too has been doing its part by spearheading a campaign that aims at bringing millets back on our plates.
That said, there is a lot more that aware citizens can do. Knowing how millets can be included in regular diet, for example, and sharing that knowledge will play a major role in giving our native crops the revival they deserve.
Here are a few ways in which millets can be included in our daily lifestyles:
- Cereal porridge: This is one of the most common ways of eating millets. All that needs to be done is toast the millets, boil them, and add fresh fruits.
- Upma: The popular hot breakfast dish from South India is usually made with rava, but it can be substituted with foxtail millets, a much healthier and more nutritious alternative.
- Pizzas: Yes, you read that right. Let’s end the battle between health and taste, and start making our pizzas with millets. While the maida used in pizzas can be replaced with millet flour, the pizza crusts can be made with foxtail and kodo millets.
- Fries: Millets can be used to make healthy appetizers too. Baked millet fries are easy and quick to make, and consume less oil.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk helps reduce heat from the body and keeps us hydrated for longer time. Ragi porridge mixed with buttermilk is not only healthy but a very filling and tasty drink.
- Halwa: Ragi can be used to make delicious sweet dishes, including halwas. Add grinded apples and cinnamon to take them to a whole new level.
- Biryani, pongal, khichdi: Different millet grains have their unique texture and taste and can be used as a healthier alternative to rice.
These are just a few ways in which millets can be brought back into our lifestyles. With rising health issues, water shortage, and food safety concerns, it is these coarse, rugged-looking grains that can come to the rescue, creating a win-win situation for farmers, sellers, and consumers alike, and in such tasty and diverse ways.