Finding Millets, the lost superfood

In this International Year of Millets (IYOM 2023), India’s once-famous golden grain is quickly evolving into a nutrient-dense, naturally gluten-free, diabetes, and heart disease-fighting food of the future

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), millets are classified as major millets and minor millets based on their grain size. There is another class of millets—pseudo millets—which are nutritionally similar but are not part of the Poaceae botanical family to which ‘true’ grains belong.
Major millets: * Sorghum (Jowar) * Pearl millet (Bajra) * Finger millet (Mandua/Ragi)
Minor millets: * Barnyard (Sanwa) * Kodo (Kodon), foxtail (Kangni) * Little millet (Kutki) * Proso (Chena)
Pseudo millets: * Buckwheat (Kuttu) * Amaranth (Rajgira)
Millets are small-seeded grasses belonging to the botanical family Poaceae. These grasses that grew in rainless wild terrain were domesticated as staple crops nearly 10,000 years ago in China and later in India.
India has a long history of using millets, which can be traced back to the Yajurveda, which mentions foxtail millet (priyangava), barnyard millet (aanava) and black finger millet (shyaamaka) as popular foods. Millets may have been a part of the diet of the people of Mohenjodaro and Harappa 5000 years ago, along with wheat and barley, according to traces of millets discovered during archaeological excavations in the Indus Valley region. Even later, as described in travelogues and literature, India had a robust millet culture.
“The world is gravitating towards the true superfood – Millets or Shree Anna, which are good for the consumer, cultivator, climate and help support the vision of a more sustainable world. Millets are naturally gluten free, low GI, packed with energy, protein, minerals and can thus help fight malnutrition as well as improve food security. The need of the hour is to promote the use of millets and make it the food choice for the future.”
Dr Bhavna Sharma PhD (Nutrition), Head-Nutrition Science, ITC Ltd. (Foods Division)
Sorghum millet (jowar) is generally used to make rotis and other Indian breads. Rotis, khichdi and porridge are made using pearl millet (bajra). Finger millet (ragi) is a healthy substitute for rice and wheat and is highly filling. Foxtail millet (kangni) is available in the form of semolina or flour and is one of the most easily digested millets. Barnyard millet (sanwa) is nutritionally dense, packed with iron and high fibre content. Proso millet (chena) is widely used as bird feed. Little millet (kutki) is served as a substitute for rice. Kodo millet (kodon) is easy to digest and is beneficial for infants and geriatrics. Amaranth (rajgira) is gaining popularity as a healthy breakfast cereal and snack. Buckwheat (kuttu) is mostly used during the fasting period of the Navratras.
Bajra ki khichdi
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Serving size: 1 serving
Ingredients Amount
Bajra 30 g 1/3 rd cup
Green gram dal 5 g 1 teaspoon
(moong dal)
Carrot 25 g 1/4 th cup
Beans 25 g 1/4 th cup
Oil 5 m 1 teaspoon
1. Put the bajra seeds in a blender to make a coarse powder and rinse a few times with water to remove the husk particles, set aside with water.
2. Heat oil and add cumin seeds, moong dal, curry leaves and dry red chili till it pops.
3. Mix in the chopped vegetables along with salt to taste and 1/4 th teaspoon turmeric and chili powder and cook till tender.
4. Add the soaked bajra seeds and stir the khichdi and cook for 3 minutes.
5. Pressure cook the khichdi till tender and serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.
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Disclaimer: Content Produced by ITC Foods Ltd

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