There is something unique about superfoods. Apart from their great nutritional value, they can cover up a large gamut of recipes. Be it starters, main course or even desserts. Superfoods, especially millets are most versatile to add to your meals, if the ideas are thought through the right way.
Last weekend I conducted a corporate culinary session with 40 employees. Out of those 40, 35 were men. Initially, I had my own set of apprehensions because we hardly see men passionate about cooking. So, keeping them engaged for a session as long as three hours wasn’t an easy deal. Thanks to superfoods and their super versatile uses, besides many other recipes including crackers, dips, mocktails, the spirited team churned out easy peasy colourful recipes — one of them was Millets Salad.
Sharing my step by step recipe to tell you that you don’t have to be a religious wheat and rice lover. Just broaden your platter a bit, make some space for our ancient grains, start experimenting with the right combinations and you can easily enjoy the all new world of superfoods. Trust me, this journey towards a healthier life will be the most satisfying one.
Healthy Millet Salad
1 cup – Sorghum millet and Finger millet mixed (Jowar and Ragi)
2 cups – Bell peppers
2 cups – Steamed and cubed Pumpkin
1 large onion – Chopped into chunks
2-3tbsp – Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A large handful of mixed Microgreens
4tbsp – Pomegranate kernels
Toasted Pumpkin seeds, for topping
Cherry tomatoes to decorate
For the dressing:
1 cup – Coriander
1/2 cup – Basil
1/2 cup – Greek yogurt or hung curd
2 tbsp – Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tbsp – Honey
Salt and pepper to taste
*Nicely wash and soak millets for a good 4-5 hours. Rinse them again to drain out water. Now combine with twice the amount of water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for around 8-10 minutes until tender or most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it stand for a couple of minutes. Drain if there’s extra liquid, move it into another bowl and fluff so that the millets don’t stick together. Season with salt and lime juice.
*In a pan, arrange bell peppers, slightly steamed pumpkin, and onion chunks. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Mix and then roast until tender and slightly charred. Make sure to toss the vegetables halfway through to ensure even roasting.
*Make the dressing by combing the herbs with the greek yogurt or hung curd, and vinegar in the bowl of a blender. Blend until you get a smooth and creamy dressing. Honey is added for sweetness, and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust as per preference.
*To assemble the salad, start with making a base with the millets. Top with the roasted veggies and micorgreens; dot with pomegranate kernels, and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds at the end. Spoon the dressing generously on the salad. Alternatively, you can mix everything together in a big bowl and serve. Decorate with some cherry tomatoes.
*To pack this salad (for picnics, office lunches, or when on-the-go), use a mason jar. Layer the millets at the bottom, followed by the roasted veggies, then the pomegranate and pumpkin seeds, lastly followed by the microgreens. Pack the dressing separately and just toss together before eating.
Note: You can substitute sorghum millet and finger millet with other millets too. The cooking method, veggies and the dressing will remain the same.
Health benefits of millets, steamed veggies and basil dressing
Millets are nutri-cereals which are highly nutritious and are known to have high nutrient content which includes protein, essential fatty acids, dietary fibre, B-Vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium. They help in rendering health benefits like reduction in blood sugar level (diabetes), blood pressure regulation, thyroid, cardiovascular and celiac diseases.
Apart from less or no oil, lower cholesterol, steamed or raw vegetables are rich in fiber, colour, texture and flavour. It also helps in preserving the water soluble B and C vitamins, potassium, phosphorus and zinc so that one can gain the important nutrients from boiled vegetables. Steaming sustains 90 per cent of the antioxidants present in fresh vegetables.
Basil is used to treat stomach spasms, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, kidney conditions, fluid retention, head colds, warts, and worm infections.
Shalini Rajani is the founder of Crazy Kadchi and holds innovative and healthy cooking workshops for all age groups.