Every time a new batch of five-week millet journey is announced on my Instagram, my phone is bombarded with DM and WhatsApp messages. While I try my best to patiently answer each one of them — and need be, fix up a call to explain how the entire online workshop proceeds — I also observe that some of these are frequently-asked-questions, and doubts and apprehensions of people looking to embark on this beautiful journey with me. Today, I want to answer some of the FAQs, and I am sure this column is going to help many who are still hesitant about starting their culinary journey with millet.
* I know millet is good but I can never leave wheat.
No one is asking you to leave wheat, unless you are diagnosed gluten-intolerant. We are not some automatic machines that we can switch our mode from gluten to gluten-free overnight. Let’s not shock our body. It takes some time for your palate to adjust to millet. But when you fairly understand that gluten isn’t good, you are able to tame your mind and gut to accept millet as the healing food alternatives. With my workshop, I try to make the entire journey extremely interesting, rewarding and easy for you.
* I have an extremely tied up schedule and I don’t think I will be able to cook with millet as it needs a lot of science and understanding.
Thankfully, millet is here to make lives easier. When you begin with step 1 of understanding different millet, the textures, taste and after-taste, you are able to plan your week’s menu in no time. It is more of a self-paced workshop where you proceed as per your own pace and schedule. But once you understand the right cooking techniques, right soaking and the millet that suits your health, you will be better with the whole science of dealing with these wonder grains.
* I can have millet, but I don’t think my family will ever join me on this journey.
You are here for your own good. Once you start feeling better, the positivity will transcend in all your actions. It is the family that will see you get better. And although it may take some time for them to join you, looking at all the interesting and lip-smacking millet food that you will be cooking, they wouldn’t mind trying it. Slowly but gradually, it is the entire family that joins the millet journey. But the change has to begin with you.
* I want to sneak in millet in my everyday food. Your workshop menu seems to be very exotic and continental.
More than the recipes, it’s the cooking techniques that you will be familiarized with. All my students are connected through a close-knit WhatsApp group where each day we drool over pictures (shared by my students) of Millet parathas, khichdi, many renditions of dosas, pancakes, and much more clubbed with soups, starters and even salads that are all part of the menu. It is a journey and not just a cooking class.
And because I have to tell you how easily you can make your usual food look interesting, here’s an attempt where you can club the usual barnyard millet khichdi with some flavorsome barbecued veggies and cottage cheese that have been marinated with sorghum millet. I don’t know what will you call this platter, but if you ask me, it is a bridge that helps me take you towards our desi food with little more style and love. That’s what defines my work and me.
You can always reach out to me through my Instagram for more questions about this rewarding expedition. But before that, you must read more for the step-by-step recipe of barnyard millet khichdi with barbecued veggies as a side dish.
· 1 cup barnyard millet (sama ka chawal)
· ½ cup yellow moong (yellow split gram)
· 1 potato, finely chopped
· 1 tomato, finely chopped
· 1 green chili chopped (optional)
· ¼ tsp red chili powder (optional)
· 1 dried whole red chili
· ½ cumin seeds
· ½ tsp turmeric powder
· Rock salt to taste
· ¼ tsp asafoetida (heeng)
· 1 tbsp cow ghee
· 3.5 cups water to cook
1. Thoroughly wash and soak barnyard millet for 6-8 hours. Also wash and soak moong dal for 3-4 hours separately.
2. In an open vessel, heat a tablespoon of cow ghee. To this add cumin seeds, chopped green chilies, chopped tomatoes. Mix it all nicely and add salt and turmeric and cook till the tomatoes are a little tender.
3. Add chopped potatoes followed by little water; cook it covered for 5-7 minutes till potatoes turn tender, too.
4. Now, add soaked millet and dal, followed by water. Stir it well and allow the mixture to come to a boil. This is the time when you need to turn the flame on low and allow the khichdi to cook on low flame for next 15-20 minutes, covered.
5. Once it is all mushy and nice, give it a good stir and turn the flame off.
6. Allow the khichdi to settle and dry up a bit. You can adjust water as per your liking. I like it little runny, so have added more water. You can have it like a dried pulao, too.
7. For the tikkas that you can see in this picture, I have followed the usual paneer tikka recipe. But I have just replaced gram flour (besan) with sorghum millet flour. And they tasted fabulous. You must try.
8. Club this platter with any of your favourite dips. I usually keep the mint chutney ready as it allows me to turn any simple meal into a tasty one.
9. Serve hot and never refrigerate the cooked millet.
Health benefits of barnyard millet and sorghum millet
Barnyard Millet: Nutritionally barnyard millet is a superior grain with good amounts of macro-nutrients and dietary fiber. This tiny wonder grain is a good source of B-complex vitamins, and is good for elders, too, especially diabetic patients.
The other names of barnyard millet are shyama in Bengali, moraiyo in Gujarati, sanwa of samak in Hindi, oodalu in Kannada, kuthiraivolly in Tamil and udalu in Telugu.
Sorghum millet (jowar) is the most versatile and neutral millet. I have been using it in many of my recipes including marinations and gravy premixes where I use homemade jowar flour.
It’s rich in vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. Also an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, and protein.
(Shalini Rajani is the founder of Crazy Kadchi and holds innovative Millets Cooking Workshops for all age groups)
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