Millets-A detailed write up on millets and recipes



It is “MILLET MANIA” everywhere.I have been noticing frequent cookery shows with millets, widespread talks on millets and several food blogs flooding with millet recipes. This made me conduct a research on the topic “MILLET/சிறுதானியம்/குறுந்தானியம்”. I kept glancing many websites and reading articles from various magazines on millets. My husband always encourages me to try new recipes but “with only healthy ingredients”.He had bought kambu,varagu and thinai from the supermarket along with our monthly grocery as summer season commenced. It was then I began to nudge mom and my friends on recipes out of them.I had been a fan of kambu koozh when I was at college.Ragi has become a part of our food since my kid started having it.There are studies which reveal that ragi porridge is almost as nutritious as breastmilk.I understood that these millets have been in use casually in our food and now they are coming into the spotlight.In the meantime, one of my cousins suggested me to include recipes on millets quoting that millets had been the traditional staple ingredients in the family.With all knowns and unknowns, I am scribbling my observations below on “MILLETS”.I captured all images to have better clarity. I am hearing too many confusions with it. I have provided the names of millets in various languages along with images(taken at home). Hope it will help every reader out there.



Hi, I am Millet! 🙂

Millets can be mentioned as the first cereal grain used by humans domestically and they are the oldest of the foods used. Millet has a tiny, pale, yellow seed with a nutty flavour which lends itself well to being cooked and eaten whole. Millet was grown way back in 2700 B.C and it has been wide use in Africa, China and India even before usage of rice as staple food. There is a history in Hindu mythology mentioning Lord Muruga tries to teach Valli a lesson when she guards her thinai fields and also it is a practice to offer thinai maavu to Lord Muruga in temples. I also remember reading somewhere that millets have a mention in “THE HOLY BIBLE” too. There are several initiatives going on for more than half a century to revive this cultivation and consumption of millets.Dr.M.S.Swaminathan,”Father of green revolution” quotes that consumption of millets can make India “HUNGER FREE” and it is high time we realise the real benefits of “healthy eating”.

  • millets

How am I classified?:

The following is a type of classification of millets based on worldwide cultivation.

  • Major Millets
  1. Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum)
  2. Foxtail millet (Setaria italica)
  3. Proso millet also known as common millet, broom corn millet, hog millet or white millet (Panicum miliaceum)
  4. Finger millet (Eleusine coracana)
  • Minor Millets
  1. Barnyard millet (Echinochloa spp.)
  2. Kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum)
  3. Little millet (Panicum sumatrense)

How nutritious am I?:

Millets can be called as nutritional storehouses .They are far ahead of rice and wheat in terms of minerals, calcium and fibre. Finger millet has 30 times higher calcium content than rice and it can be strongly stated that every other millet has at least twice higher calcium than rice.Millets like foxtail and little millet are so rich in iron and the betacarotene content of certain millets are priced several thousand by the pharmaceutical industry.The amount of micro nutrients in millets can never be compared with any other food. Millets are seen as solution to malnutrition by experts and they are highly advocated by agriculturists since they are Climate compliant ,independent of synthetic fertilizers,pest free and amazingly low water consuming .

Important Millets and Vernacular names:

Barnyard millet Jhangora குதிரைவாலி Kuthiravali Oodalu Odalu Kavadapullu China
Finger millet Nachani /mundua கேழ்வரகு Kezhvaragu Ragi Ragula Panji pullu Africa
Foxtail millet Kangni/Rala தினை Thinai Navane Korra Thina  China
Kodo millet Koden/Kodra வரகு Varagu Harka Arikelu Koovaragu India
Little millet Kutki சாமை Saamai Saame Sama Chama India
Proso Millet Barri பனிவரகு Panivaragu Baraga Varigullu China
Pearl millet Bajra கம்பு Kambu Sajje Sajjalu Kambam Africa
Sorghum Jowar சோளம் Cholam Jola Jonna Cholam  Africa

A comparison of essential nutrients present in various grains

(The nutrient composition per 100 g in tabulated below)

Food grain/Nutrient Carbo-hydrates (g) Protein(g) Fat(g) Energy (KCal) Crude fibre(g) Mineral matter(g) Calcium(mg) Phosphorus(mg) Iron(mg)
Barnyard millet 65.5 6.2 2.2 307 9.8 4.4 20 280 5
Finger millet 72 7.3 1.3 328 3.6 2.7 344 283 3.9
Foxtail millet 60.9 12.3 4.3 331 8 3.3 31 290 2.8
Kodo millet 65.9 8.3 1.4 309 9 2.6 27 188 0.5
Little millet 67 7.7 4.7 341 7.6 1.5 17 220 9.3
Pearl millet 67.5 11.6 5 361 1.2 2.3 42 296 8
Proso millet 70.4 12.5 1.1 341 2.2 1.9 14 206 0.8
Rice (raw, milled) 78.2 6.8 0.5 345 0.2 0.6 10 160 0.7
Sorghum 72.6 10.4 1.9 349 1.6 1.6 25 222 4.1
Wheat (whole) 71.2 11.8 1.5 346 1.2 1.5 41 306 5.3

(Source: Nutritive value of Indian foods, NIN, 2007)

What do these nutrients do to us?:

  • Protein
    It is an important building block in our body.It helps in building new cells,tissues and muscles.Our body can’t store protein, so we need to eat some every day.
  • Fiber
    Dietary fiber helps us feel full faster and longer; it also aids digestion and helps prevent constipation. Fiber comes only from plant foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains), and grain fiber is thought to protect against digestive cancers more than other forms of fiber.
  • Iron
    Iron helps our bodies make haemoglobin (for red blood cells) and myoglobin (for muscles), both of which help carry and store oxygen. Iron also plays a role in many other routine bodily functions.
  • Magnesium
    An essential mineral required for hundreds of biochemical reactions, including transmission of nerve impulses, converting food into energy, body temperature regulation and maintaining a strong immune system. Magnesium also helps us absorb calcium, for healthy bones and teeth.
  • Phosphorus
    Another essential mineral, phosphorus is present in every cell in the body, making up 1% of body weight. Its main function is the formation of bones and teeth, but it’s also key to the synthesis of protein for cell repair, growth, and maintenance; for heartbeat regularity; and nerve conduction.
  • Zinc
    The mineral zinc helps immune system fight off bacteria and viruses and helps wounds heal. It also helps your body make proteins and DNA. Zinc is also essential to proper functioning of the sense of taste and smell.
  • Copper
    Copper (another mineral) helps us absorb iron, and also helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate. Copper is also needed for the production of melanin, which colors our hair and skin.
  • Manganese
    The mineral manganese helps us handle oxidative stress. It activates many important enzymes in the body that are crucial to the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol. Manganese is also essential to the formation of healthy cartilage and bone.
  • Selenium
    Selenium is a trace mineral. Although we only need small amounts of it, it is useful in helping to prevent cellular damage from free radicals, to regulate thyroid function, and for a healthy immune system.
  • B Vitamins
    B vitamins aid in making energy from the food we consume, maintaining healthy hair,skin and muscles, forming RBC’s.

Health benefits of millets:

  • Millets are gluten-free and it is extremely suitable for all those who are gluten intolerant.
  • Few phytonutrients in millets help in fighting against hormone-dependent cancers and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
  • When kids consume millets on a regular the occurrence of asthma and wheezing troubles are found to be reduced.
  • It is highly beneficial in post menopause for women to have a control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Recent research studies have indicated that the regular consumption of millets is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

kambu_bajra_pearlmillet kuthiraivalli_ saamai_littlemillet sorghum_cholam_jowar thinai_foxtail_kangni milletsRagi

KITCHEN KATHUKUTTY’s conclusion on Millets:

    • Millets can definitely be termed as “MIRACLE GRAINS”. I had been hunting for capturing all millets in a single shot and it happened two weeks back in my perimma’s place.Millets have been one of our traditional and early foods. It is highly beneficial in all means and ways. But I would not recommend replacing your staple food ingredients with millets once for all. Millets can be used instead of processed, packed and absolutely nutrient fewer ingredients like oats, maida, vermicelli, atta.Millets can definitely be a part of your meal but not your whole meal because millets are rich in calories and the current generation (majority) does not involve so much of physical efforts to burn those. Get to know the right methods of preparation and right quantity, frequency to be taken. Say for example if you have been habituated with rice and wheat foods in the ratio of 4:3 in a week you can very well proceed with 3:2:2 ratio of rice:wheat: millets. Introduce millets slowly in a minimal quantity of your regular food and observe the impacts before you fix a routine with millets. They are not harmful definitely. But how far it suits an individual depends completely on the individual. I write this because I have heard from experts that millet X which suits person A might not suit for person B. And there are also seasonal associations wrt to consumption of millets.We have forgotten our traditional millets and it is gaining momentum now. It is high time to bring back our lost traditional heritage but before that rediscover their values, know them right, use them right in your daily lives. 🙂
    • Introducing millets to babies needs extra care, caution and the right guidance from paediatrician.
    • Processing/preparing/Cooking of millets needs more time and more care. They might indigestion if improperly cooked.
    • As of I know millets(if not processed in industry) should not be consumed as an instant food.

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Disclaimer & Copyright:

The above written piece information was gathered by me from various sources like the web, books,experts and magazines and scripted based on my understanding. This write up does not intend to hurt anyone and it is totally my personal observation. Kindly do not copy/reproduce any part of this write up.

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26 thoughts on “Millets-A detailed write up on millets and recipes

  1. Kalyani it wil be helpful if u also add the pics of those millets against their names as most of us don’t know how it wil look…

  2. […] Millets have become the order of the day and I keep trying new dishes whenever possible.This instant ragi dosa has been a traditional food in the family and I wanted to try for my little one so long.If you have some ragi flour and rice flour in hand and 10 minutes you can easily make this nutritious and yummy food.Since I made it for my son I cooked it in steam.An ideal baby food post 8 months. You can make a crispy version too. Check out my other recipes with millets here […]

  3. […] When you get super bored of usual breakfast and dinner recipes, you can make some quick instant dosa like wheat dosa,ragi dosa and here is another healthy instant dosa of sorghum/jowar/cholam. You can either have these flours prepared at home and choose to buy organic flours. I generally don’t opt for instant menus as most of them don’t happen to be healthy. But when it comes to these recipes,they are super power houses of nutrition. I have always loved to include millets in my recipes and do read my detailed insight on millet with recipes here. […]

  4. […] When you get super bored of usual breakfast and dinner recipes, you can make some quick instant dosa like wheat dosa,ragi dosa and here is another healthy instant dosa of sorghum/jowar/cholam. You can either have these flours prepared at home and choose to buy organic flours. I generally don’t opt for instant menus as most of them don’t happen to be healthy. But when it comes to these recipes,they are super power houses of nutrition. I have always loved to include millets in my recipes and do read my detailed insight on millet with recipes here. […]

  5. Hi ….
    Planning to start millets for my toddler. In need to tasty recipes… I always try all your receips and my son loves it . I’m unable to load receipe page . Please provide the link.

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