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Healthy Sankranthi With Millet Dishes

14 January, 2019

, Millet

Millets are a somewhat popular cereal or grain grown in the Asian and African countries mostly. They are very tiny and come in a variety of colors like white, red, yellow or gray. The commonly known and used millets in India are Bajra, Ragi, Jowar and these are typically part of many cuisines in India. They are also grown as fodder for animals. The rotis made of these are the staple food for many regions, and also they are slowly coming into many urban family cooking as well, because of the multiple health benefits they offer.

Health Benefits Fact Check

Millets are three to five times as nutritious than rice or wheat and contain more proteins, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for our good health. We gain Vitamin B, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, etc. through the consumption of millets. It is also rich in fiber and has a long shelf life, as compared to many other kinds of cereal. More importantly, millets are gluten-free and are now in high demand, as India is known to be the diabetes capital of the world, and millets help lower the risk of the Type 2 diabetes. The magnesium in the millets helps stimulate insulin and helps in this cause.

These are said to be useful for reducing blood pressure and thus also effective in promoting heart health and reducing coronary issues. It is also said that the plant lignans in millets can actually be converted to animal lignans by our digestive system, and help combat cancer as well. Millets also help in digestion and help ease kidney and liver diseases as well. Millets also come loaded with components like curcumin that also aid in detoxing our blood.

Ragi Idli

Idli is a South Indian breakfast dish that has now gained popularity in the North as well. While the rice idli would need grinding of the batter, the Ragi version is easier to make and much healthier as well.


  • 2 cup finger millet (ragi) flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cup semolina (rava/sooji)
  • 2 cups thick curd
  • One cup grated carrot and finely sliced coriander leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • One or two teaspoons refined oil
  • Salt to taste

Dry roast the semolina till a nice smell comes, and the color changes slightly brown, and set it aside to cool. Add the millet flour, curd, water, salt, baking soda, and the grated carrot and coriander leaves and mix well. Keep this mixture aside for 20 minutes to half an hour. Slightly grease the idli containers with the refined oil and then pour out this thick batter evenly and pressure cook for 10 to 15 minutes. These can be served hot along with coconut chutney or sambar as desired.

Foxtail Millet Pongal

We have already seen the two common versions of rice and moong dal Pongal. Here is another healthier version you can try out.


  • ½ cup foxtail millet
  • ¼ cup moong dal
  • 2 sliced green chillies
  • 1 teaspoon jeera or cumin seeds
  • A few whole black peppercorns / two teaspoon pepper powders
  • A tablespoon of finely sliced curry leaves
  • A pinch of asafoetida powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 8-10 cashew nuts
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoon ghee

In a pan roast the cashew nuts to a golden brown color, using ghee and keep aside. Now, dry roast the foxtail millet and moong dal in a pan and set aside to cool. Wash and soak the roasted millet and moong dal in water for an hour. Pressure cook them with water, salt and green chillies for 3-4 whistles. Once cooled enough, mash this well. In the same pan used for roasting the cashew, add the jeera seeds, peppercorns/powder, Hing, chopped ginger and curry leaves and prepare the tempering by sauting it for a few minutes (Add a bit more ghee if required). This tempering should be poured over the mashed millet and dal mixture and mixed well. Garnish with the roasted cashew nuts and serve hot.

Foxtail millet can be used in place of rice to prepare the sweet Pongal or sweet khichdi too. The only difference is while we do not fry rice, the millet needs to be fried just like moong dal, before pressure cooking it, as mentioned above. Instead of salt and tempering, jaggery and coconut may be added, as is done for the sweet pongal, along with cardamom for flavor. So, you see, it is easy to make millet variations of dishes to have a healthier Pongal.

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