Feb 9, 2020

FAQs on Millets

In 2014, I wrote an article on how to incorporate millets in your daily meals. Whenever someone asks me about millets, I point them to this article. It's been 6 years and so much has changed (for the better) with respect to millets - increased awareness, easy availability, tons of recipes online and proven effectiveness towards various health issues. I've been wanting to write a follow-up article to address a few questions that I get repeatedly on millets. I have compiled the answers below for quick reference. If you prefer a video version, I have made one (basic phone recording though). Or if you prefer the written word, continue further :-)

(1) How to buy millets?
When you buy, make sure you select the unpolished variety. Many supermarkets have polished varieties that are pristine white in colour, especially varagu(kodo millet), saamai (little millet) and kudiraivali (barnyard millet). 
Varagu is pale brown in color, saamai is pale cream-ish in color. Kudiraivali has tiny black spots on each grain. Thinai (foxtail millet) looks slightly yellowish. 

(2) How to plan and buy millets?
My suggestion would be not to overstock all varieties since I have noticed tiny black bugs infesting most of these grains after 2-3 months. For a family of 3-4, I recommend buying 2-3 varieties of 1/2 kg each.

I classify millets into two categories:
  1. Ragi (finger millet)/Kambu (pearl millet)/Solam (sorghum/jowar) - more suited for breakfast/tiffin items
  1. Thinai/saamai/kudiraivali/varagu/panivaragu - can be used for both breakfast and lunch
So I usually stock up 1 variety from the first category and 2 from the second category. This would last me for around 2 months, post which I would rotate the grains. This way, we get a variety of nutrients from these millets without any wastage.

(3) When to eat millets?
I typically include millets for breakfast and lunch. I don't prefer them for dinner as they are quite filling and take time to digest.
If you are new to millets, plan 2-3 meals per week where you use ONE variety of millet in your main meal. Take it slow. Observe how your body is able to absorb - whether you feel comfortable or not. Gradually increase the type of millets used and the frequency. After a year or so, you can plan for 1 meal a day based on a variety of millets.

(4) Can we mix 2-3 millets in a single meal?
Usually, it is recommended not to mix multiple grains in a single meal. But my answer is it depends on each individual's digestive capacity. If you find combining millets to be on the heavier side, avoid it. There are no hard and fast rules here, try and experiment with what works for you.
If millets are dry roasted and ground, it should be okay to include as a mixed millet sathumaavu kanji / porridge.

(5) Can we eat millets in all seasons?
Yes, definitely. A few points to keep in mind. Some of the millets tend to be heat-inducing IF consumed in large quantities.
Kambu/Ragi/Thinai - supposed to be heat-generating. So if you include either of them in summers, include cooling foods such as water-based vegetables, buttermilk and shallots along with your meal.
Solam - a summer grain. Can be easily consumed for breakfast in the form of idli, dosa, oothappam or paniyarams.
Ragi  - best suited during monsoon and season shifts. It helps to control mucus formation. 
Saamai - good for all seasons. Easy to digest. 
Kudiraivali - good for all seasons but since it is high in fibre, drink enough water.

I hope you find these pointers helpful. If there are any further questions, do let me know in the comments below.



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