Millets – Why did we forget?

About 7 or 8 years back I had taste (not tryst) with destiny. In Tirupathi, there is a place called Urban Hat i.e Urban village. It is mainly an expo -showing handicrafts, handloom textile etc. The day I visited, there was a Village Food festival. Mostly it was the usual stuff – vada, briyani, fried rice, iddly etc- certainly not what I expected. But in a unconspicuous corner I saw ‘Jonna rotti’. I vaguely remember – Jonna as some of corn or some such thing. I decided to give it a try.

It is a roti made out of jonna (telugu) -Cholam (Tamil) – no it is not makkacholam- maize(the stuff you normally see in beaches with sparkles from aduppu and chilly powder smeared corn) (By the way I am planning to write about Maize,America,Hoysala sculpture shortly- when writing about some history stuff). Cholam is an ancient food grain – I think it is truly native. The roti was served with kathirikkai kuttu(brinjal). This is the first time I ever had a food shock – by its taste. Especially combination roti+kathirikkai kuttu. The effect was there lying dormant for longtime.

Few months back I happen watch Kaimanm- கைமணம்- a cookery programme in Makkal TV. A fantastic programme indeed. Here Ramasubrmanian – Researcher in Tamil food tells us about old food habits and benefits of the ingredients used – mainly millets – instead of rice, wheat. This programme rekindled interest in the lost heritage in me. In one the programme he prepared varagu pongal -

Millets are small seeded grases giving us grains which are healthy. They grow easily in drought like conditions also. There are several of them which were common in our forefather’s time, forming staple food. Kelvaragu,Kambu,Varagu,Thinai, Samai were common. in those days- remember the famous prayer – தேனும் திணை மாவும் கலந்து… In this TV programme featured something I have never heard – குதிரைவாலி அரிசி- horse tailed millet etc. Curiosity increases day by day. If I ask varagu in any of the shops in Selaiyur, Chitlapakkam or Tambaram – they looked at me as though they found someone escaped from IMH Kilpauk. Indeed my attempt in Mother’s native village near Pondy even didn’t help. The useful info was from my aunt – that vargu were common around Tindivanam area few decades back, but requires more labour to sift and hence given up.

With curiosity continuing, I happen to read about an organic vegetable-cum-provision selling organisation in Pasumai Vikatan- volunteers like linux users group – selling them in Adayar. It is named nicely – reStore – well restore back our food to healthy one. Well, search ended here -

The first day I tasted Varagu – Pongal, I could realise how much we have lost to alien food habits. The reason why India is Diabetic and Hypertension capital is clear – forgotten grains – mainly. Now Varagu is regular in my house – dosa,idly, pongal, uppuma – just fits wherever rice fits. Similar is tale about other millets. For the past two months I buy from them regularly. Last week I could get Chola mavu- Jonna/jowar flour also. Next day it was the ‘jonna roti’ with kattirikkai kuttu – and rekindling my taste with destiny.

Well, using these millets have lot of advantage, some of them are

  • They release sugar slowly – enough time for our body to produce required insulin. This is mainly because the coat of the grain is in tact and we take whole grain and not polished one.
  • They are nutritious – well balanced at that – fibre,protein, iron etc.
  • They require very little water and can grow in not-so-fertile lands also. (May be Kaveri, Palar and all such disputes vanish)
  • They are disease and pest resistent

I will dedicate post sometime later about the scientific facts of millets. For now I request readers of this post to give it a try.
For more details

http://restore.org.in

millets.wordpress.com

170 Responses to Millets – Why did we forget?

  1. pavithran says:

    Wow nice way to find the lost heritage . . Lets do some Nice PR for Pasumai Vikatan and varugu .

    BTW my granddads mom told me that they used to cook jonna roti’s :D

    Why don’t you upload some pics and recipe ;)

  2. Abdullah says:

    Thanks for the excellent information. I will go to reStore to check it out. Could you tell me how different reStore is from other grocery shops like say spencer’s daily, reliance fresh or any other local grocery store?

    • ramanchennai says:

      It is a voluntary organisation. They pay fair price to the farmers – no middle men. Also they are all organically grown.

    • Radha says:

      You can hire an expert farmer come to your home as a horticulturalist and teach you how to grow and process the millet in your home garden, or they can grow and process it for you. This is called garden consulting, for people interested in growing their own food at home so the quality is fresh because a lot of mass produced millets are poor in quality.

      You can hire an expert, like the women shown in the above videos, a graduate in plant biology, horticulture, or urban gardening. Some chefs have private home gardens that supply fresh produce to their restaurants. Those gardens are managed by such people I mentioned. I have visited home gardens, they are inspiring. If you don’t have land you can also do a community garden in the park area of your neighborhoods or apartment complex.

    • Radha says:

      I think the reality is, millet can only be called millet not if it looks like a millet seed, but if it nutritionally functions like millet seed. My concern is the processing methods and cooking methods and even peoples eating habits are reducing the nutritional value of the millet. Millet can only be useful if its fits into an overall healthy lifestyle. Drinking, and smoking after eating millet counteracts against its benefits. Given how much effort it takes to produce millet, especially the hand pounded kind, sometimes I feel millet should only be sold to those who are experienced in cooking and are serious about having a healthy lifestyle to prevent its misuse and waste.

      In the article I posted he says and warns that the market is flooded with polished varieties. “Organic varagu is brown in colour, while thinai and panivaragu are yellow, saamai and kudiravaali are greyish. The polished ones are white in colour. Buy your organic food from the right place.”
      http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/nalla-soru-a-good-food-guide/article5408515.ece

      Please ask your elders how millet was cooked. I see many recipes taking shortcuts and are experimental. I don’t like experimental recipes. We don’t know how they affect us long term. Even though I posted many recipes here as a starting point I’m currently evaluating them. The more I read the more I realize how many cooking methods are out there that are not known, but are more accurate.

      Unpolished millets have nutritional inhibitors that block iron and iodine absorption. They also have hormones that can cause unwanted effects. Its important the husked unpolished millet is fresh not old to avoid unwanted effect due to spoilage. White rice was popular because it didn’t have bran and germ that caused it to spoil easily. This is why we need to cook and eat millet according to how our elders did it, in order to deal with these issues. We don’t want to solve a problem while creating another problem. The media doesn’t discuss this aspect. So please ask the elders, as old of a generation as possible or ayurvedic experts.

      Many recipes I posted here are by women from villages. They make cooking look easy, but they practiced for a long time to get to that point. They get their millets from their own family farm processed by their moms. There are so many details they can’t share because writing them all down is difficult.

      • Radha says:

        In the above article it says unpolished samai is gray, but I think unhusked is gray but husked might be cream, tan.
        If anyone has pictures of what husked and unhusked looks like for all the millets please share.
        For now, please refer to this link.
        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/p/glossary.html

      • srinath says:

        Fully polished samai millet is light golden yellow in colour

        Fully polished kuduravali is white in colour and is very difficult to distinguish from samai. One particular distinction is the presence of a small red dot in kuduravali

        Fully polished varagu is white and slightly bolder in size

        Fully polished Tinai is yellow in colour

        Usually samai and kudravali are the millets which are par boiled before eaten while for varagu it is deemed not necessary. After par boiling kuduravali and samai the colour of the grain inside drastically changes. It changes to a more brownish or greyish shade.

        I currently polish and process millets similarly to what paddy rice is available in the markets. Lightly polished millets have a problem with shelf life as insects develop within the stock rapidly. In most cases within 2-3 days. This is proving to be a burden to retailers as insect attack will reduce the monetary value of their stock rapidly. Par boiling is theoretically supposed to increase the shelf life of these millets to a great extent but the knowhow of the par boiling process for millets needs to be studied. It also depends on the demand available from the customer side.

      • Radha says:

        Please ask your elders how to dehusk at home. That way the millet can be stored in its husk which will keep it more fresh.
        You only need 1/4th a cup per serving. Its easier to process 1/4th a cup at a time. It’s the processing of tons that makes it challenging. I heard some soak it, then pound it for easier husking. Or we set up small mini processing units by villagers in towns that process small amounts at a time per week or every three days. They grind flour fresh, teach others how to stone grind at home, and pound grain fresh or teach others how to do at home.
        http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/past-lifes-charm-lost-to-modernisation/article5559169.ece

      • Radha says:

        Traditionally neem leaves were put with stored grain to keep bugs away. Still, the husk, shiny shell is best protector.

      • Radha says:

        I think that skin has to be on the grain.
        It had vitamins, perhaps minerals, amino acids, fat, pigments and most importantly hormones, these all play a role in correct metabolism I think. White rice, white millets have all this removed, parboiling only puts some vitamins back into the grain, but some vitamin loss is there still and all the other nutritional elements I think are lost. Metabolism requires many factors to properly occur. People have to stop thinking about profit.
        Short term gains equal long term losses. Rajasic equals tamasic.
        What is convenient in the short term will be inconvenient and huge burden long term.

        Now, when you eat the grain whole you are reintroducing the hormones back to it, proper cooking method deals with this so our hormones don’t get unwanted effects.

      • Radha says:

        Correction, in millets and certain polished rices the germ is there. For certain rices its a tiny oval that sticks out of its top tip side. Fat, amino acids like lysine a necessary one needed for protein is there. For millet its inside the grain, like egg yolk to an egg. The egg yolk is like the germ. Ah, ask the elders, TV, Internet, magazines, newspapers give vague info.

      • Radha says:

        I’m still reading into the role of this skin. For ginger, almonds, cashews we remove the skin, as a must. Some irritant is in it or something. but for grass seed like millet and dal I’m not sure. People have never seen toor dal whole, its gray. But it’s removed. Green Moong though it stays or is removed. Its tricky…

      • Radha says:

        Even using neem to keep insects away might be problematic because although natural, the substances in leaves might interfere with the reproductive system of an insect like many deterrents, natural or chemical.

        Whenever you go to a wedding or pongal celebration and see beautiful clay pots stacked on top of each other, did you ever wonder why we do that? Its because the most effective way to keep insects away from grain is due this art. Clay pots stacked on top of each other was the farmers most effective method to keep insects away. It was more effective than neem.

        http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/00891/MAMP13PONGAL_891233g.jpg

        Read page 4 that says mud pots.
        http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/6259/1/IJTK%208(4)%20564-568.pdf

        Why destroy the nutritional value of food, making millions sick, in order to extend its shelf life when we have more intelligent methods like this?

      • Radha says:

        Raw rice is softer than parboiled rice. I assume if they parboil millet it will harden it making it more difficult to digest and it might need to be soaked prior to cooking in a way that doesn’t cause it to spoil. Already millet is a dry grain, so parboiling it might make it even more dry and hard. More difficult to digest. Something to think about.

      • Radha says:

        Even using neem to keep insects away from grain might be problematic because although natural, the substances in leaves might interfere with the reproductive system of an insect like many deterrents, natural or chemical.

        Whenever you go to a wedding or pongal celebration and see beautiful clay pots stacked on top of each other, did you ever wonder why we do that? Its because the most effective way to keep insects away from grain is due this art. Clay pots stacked on top of each other was the farmers most effective method to keep insects away. It was more effective than neem.

        http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/00891/MAMP13PONGAL_891233g.jpg

        Read page 4 that says mud pots.
        http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/6259/1/IJTK%208(4)%20564-568.pdf

        Why destroy the nutritional value of millets, by polishing it, or parboiling, making millions sick, in order to extend its shelf life when we have more intelligent methods like this?

  3. sakthi subbiah says:

    i want to get varahu rice ,where can i get it?

  4. sakthi subbiah says:

    can i get it in Delhi?

  5. sakthi subbiah says:

    please tell me the recipes of some millets,as i cook raagi dosa which is not good.if v can make them in an attractive manner,i can pass this to others,so v can reduce using of rice and wheat.

  6. Raj Muthu Kumar says:

    Sir,I saw a programme in Makkal TV talking about the organic shop in T.Nagar. As i started watching it at the end i couldnt get the shop name. Do you know nay shops in T.nagar? Please let me know.

  7. K.Barathi says:

    Very nice article. i want to how to use and clean varagu,thinai,sama rice. Because we tried pongal in varagu But the upper layer of varagu is very hard to eat , how to clean this layer.

    • ramanchennai says:

      I buy varagu from restore.in which is hand pounded. I didn’t face this problem. Only difference is greyish colour.

      • Radha says:

        http://www.deccanherald.com/content/22681/dont-bite-adulterated-food.html

        Scroll to bottom of the website to see the picture chart of adulterated foods. The chart shows a smiling girl. Millets can be adulterated. Please buy millet fresh and have a villager clean it and pound it for you and grind fresh flour for you. I feel the pre processed millet products are not good. If it is costly to do this fundraiser money to hire someone to do this for restore or wherever you get your items. Cleaning grain and grinding, pounding and roasting it in food safe devices like granite grinders is an important skill needed for safe food healthy food. Granite is non reactive with the grain oils.

      • Radha says:

        Recently I have been speaking to companies regarding the concerns on rice and millets and have gotten hostile reaction. I can see why restore in chennai was formed. Basically I was told the following and yes this is true:

        “Who are you to tell me how to run my business?
        Do you think you are some type of expert?
        If you don’ t like my product then go somewhere else or start your own company!
        If you want something done a certain way I have to pay for it and bear all the legal problems associated with it and you the consumer won’t pay higher prices to cover that cost!
        So what, if food should be grown and cooked a certain way it doesn’t t really make a difference, I don’t see any point in it!
        Go buy your expensive hippie save the planet food somewhere else, go somewhere else! I test my products, follow the law, provide at a good cost and I am of no threat to anyone, so who are you to tell me how to run my business!”

        Well, they totally misunderstood me. Often a secretary or customer relations person is trained to tell you what you want to hear, to talk nice, but when I was directed to the CEOs this was the real attitude I got.

        So that is the reality . You can write petitions or make phone calls, or emails, but honestly this doesn’t work. the best thing to do is keep quiet and buy only from people you really trust. People don’ t listen to what you say they listen to what you buy. If they act concerned they are not. I spent thirty minutes talking about my concerns which were ignored. So if a website says we love to hear from you or we are open to feedback it’s a lie a total lie its just for pr for image. Whatever notes were taken on my suggestions were discarded or ignored.

        The company website says we love to hear from we want to hear your feedback, and yet the CEOs told me ” who are you to tell me how to run my business!”
        Then, what is the point of having a feedback form?

        Maybe to give you the run around so they don’ t really have to deal with you? Then it should say we don’t want to hear from you so fill out this useless form to make you tired and weak so you leave us alone.

      • Radha says:

        Cont.

        He says he’s following the law. Then why there are no manufacturing dates or expiration dates on the packages?

        He says who are you to tell me how to run my business. Then why do you have a feedback form asking customers to tell you what they think? And sometimes having contests awarding prizes if they give their opinion to you?

        He says go somewhere else. Then why you constantly push people to shop at your store with aggressive marketing? If I attend a religious or cultural program you aggressively market into those personal spaces and yet when I fill out your feedback form you take that as a violation of your space?

        He says who do you think you are some professional cook.
        If we don’t know how to accurately cook then how can we use your products properly? Do you want only idiots shopping at your store only? Then it should say only idiots can shop here in the store window which is your ideal customer. Self educated people not allowed.

        He says start your own company. Many have, but don’ t demonize those companies like you just demonized organic food stores as selling over priced foods to political idealists.

        His company’s motto is selling food for heritage. When I tried to explain what that heritage is he said who do you think you are some expert, he doesn’t see any point to all these things. Then don’t market yourself as being about heritage.

      • Radha says:

        Perhaps hire a villager who specializes in millet growing and cooking to teach you how to cook or to cook for your family or can teach a group of friends. Humble yourself before them, and yes make yourself a student again. Perhaps visit smaller town areas that specialize in millet growing to buy your millets, especially their farmers market. Make it a group outing. Shopping in the countryside with friends on weekends. Instead of farmers coming to Chennai you go to the farmer. I think this is better. The quality of millet in Chennai from what I am reading is not good.

        Many people are trying to cook millet, but with disastrous results. Millet cooking is a skill that developed over long period of time. Save yourself from problems by seeking out a person who grows it, ate it for generations, and developed a high level of skill in cooking them over a period of time and have them teach you.

        Millet has to be properly grown, then properly harvested, then you select what is fresh, prep it right, store it right, then cook it right and eat in the right combinations and right amounts. You even cook it in the proper vessel.

        The millet quality where I live is not good.
        Internet recipes give some ideas, but often leave out important tips. Learning directly from a person is better.

        Here is an in home cook making cholam jowar roti. Notice it is not having black spots which is correct. She just lightly cooked it so it didn’t burn. You could possibly hire such a cook to teach you.

        http://www.gourmetindia.com/topic/671-ragi-jowar-bajra-etc/

      • Radha says:

        Millets are not fast foods which is why they were not popular. They take time to prepare in order to get their beneficial properties and not destroy them. hand pounded to remove its shell, then freshly ground in a stone grinder, used right away is better.

        Puttu video, please don’t move the timer button so you can see the written instructions below.

      • Radha says:

        Cook millets on low to medium heat because they turn bitter when cooked on too high heat.

        Mangala says for ragi puttu as soon as steam comes out turn down the heat to prevent it from going bitter.

        When selecting millets, get the type meant specifically for puttu or specifically for roti or specifically for sadam or idli etc. North Indians use different millet than South Indians because they use the kind meant for roti. The difference I think is the millets higher in the starch amylopectin, a more water soluble starch, is higher in the idli millets etc. so buy millet according to what specific dish you intend on making.

      • Radha says:

        If you don’t know how to cook millet, practice cooking using a junk millet product, there are lots of junk millets on the market. The correctly processed millet took time and care to do. Please cook the millet with respect, don’t microwave it or do strange experimental dishes. You will create food shortages for those who really need it and know what to do with it.

      • Radha says:

        is the millet you are getting with the bran and germ intact or has it been processed like they do with polished rices removing the bran and germ thus dimishing their nutritive value? even if rice is parboiled, studies show there is still vitamin and fat loss in the parboiling process. perhaps if the bran is too tough to eat it can be soaked, sprouted, then ground and fermented.

        “Small millets containing large portion of husk and bran require dehusking and debranning prior to consumption (Hulse et al., 1980). In the process of milling of food grains, the main objective is to remove the coarse fibrous bran or the seed coat. However, in all these processes the nutrient rich parts of the grain, namely the germ and the aleurone layers, are also displaced resulting in a product poorer in nutrient content (Deosthale, 2002).”

      • Radha says:

        i know on millets there is a shiny part of the grain, that might be the hull. yet, people keep mentioning a fiberous layer of the grain that is hard to eat.

        this is mysterious. my guess is that is called “thavudu” or “bran”. bran is nutritious to eat and needed for sugar metabolism.

        perhaps millets were soaked, sprouted, ground and fermented into dosai, idli, and paniyarams to soften the thavudu so that it is edible and easily digests. also millets were cooked with
        lots of water. some women have established the exact millet to water ratio so that it cooks up softly. this we need to find out and make a chart. for example, for unpolished red rice i use 1 part rice to 6 parts water, then only it softens up.

        here is a pure sprouted ragi dosa and idili dish, rice free. for more dishes type millet in the search for a recipe box.
        this idea might help soften the grain.

        http://www.cookatease.com/batter-for-sprouted-ragi-idli-and-dosa
        http://www.cookatease.com/sprouted-ragi-finger-millet-dosa
        http://www.cookatease.com/sprouted-ragi-finger-millet-idli

      • Radha says:

        it seems some are selling millet with its shiny shell on, assuming you will take it home, pound it and remove it from its shell. think of a nut inside a hard shell. they keep the shell on so that the millet stays fresh and insect free because insects love millet. i think this shell is called umi.

        some are selling it without the shell. however once that shell comes off the millet begins to go bad. some are selling it without the shell. however i think some are selling it without the skin or bran on it. i think this is called thavidu.

        so a nut like an almond comes out of its shell, the almond has dark skin, thavidu. or think of dal, often dal is skinned and split, but if you have seen whole dal before it will be round like a pearl with a colored skin on it, urad dal will be a round circle with black skin. but the urad dal we see is white and split in half. the black skin is thavidu. i think they are doing the same to millet. yet i think this skin is nutritious so i don’t understand why they are removing it.

        it is important millets are clean and free of sand and grit. it is not healthy to ingest sand…i think they were soaked until the sand separated from the water so that they were cleaned well.

      • Radha says:

        sprouting ragi with detailed pictures. i think traditionally it was done in clay pots because they are breathable and keep cool so that fats don’t overheat and go bad.

        http://chefinyou.com/2009/05/how-to-sprout-raagi-finger-millet/

        when grinding into flour its best to do it with a real granite stone grinder so that the fats don’t overheat and go bad. granite keeps cool and is considered non reactive with oils. but it has to be pure quality granite there are low grade granites that are not suitable.

        http://chefinyou.com/2009/06/how-to-make-ragi-flour-finger-millet-flour-at-home/

      • Radha says:

        scroll down to “millets” for some good pictures.
        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/p/glossary.html

      • Radha says:

        my favorite millet dishes are idiyappams made into sevai.
        for more millet dishes type the name of the millet in the search for a recipe box or type millet.

        http://padmasrecipes.blogspot.com/2010/09/idiyappam-with-sorghum-flour-jonnalu.html

        http://thecuisine.blogspot.com/2011/12/thengai-ragi-sevai-steamed-finger.html

      • Radha says:

        i would advise people to avoid any millet flour or processed millet products. always try to get the whole grain millet and grind it yourself if you want flour.

        today i saw on a packet or ragi flour that the flour was not pure ragi flour but mixed with a powder that looks similar to ragi.

        i saw another company selling teff grain flour as ragi flour.

        i also saw on box of ragi malt that they add food coloring to the malt mix.

        on instant ragi sevai packets they mix ragi with wheat flour. in fact sometimes the product can be more wheat than ragi. they do this with instant kambu rotis or bajri rotis. for those who are gluten intolerant avoid this. and usually millets were not mixed with wheat.

        if you use whole grain and grind fresh it will stick better. processed flours tend to be more dry and go rancid fast.

      • Radha says:

        if you get the whole grain, please do the following. pour the grain onto a colored plate like white or pink. make sure each grain is separate from each other, and just move the plate around so the grains begin to roll. you will see stones, sticks, insects that were hiding in the package show up. the insects can be beetles that are too tiny to see. if you think you have insects take magnifying lens or camera with a zoom lens and snap a picture. sometimes they lay eggs in the grain.

        do this with any product you buy.
        my kambu had lots of beetles in it which you can’t tell from your regular eye only from a zoom lens. my panivaragu had wild seeds from another plant mixed into it that are not meant for eating. sometimes you will get grain seeds from other plants in the millet. if your are gluten intolerant often wheat grains get mixed in which can cause severe reaction. my cholam had sticks and stones in it. another cholam brand still had its shiny hulls on, it wasn’t threshed properly.

        when you by flour you have no idea whether insects were also in the grain and ground up with the grain. once, i was grinding grain into flour without realizing it had insects because they were so tiny. so please sort your grains. find farmers who specialize in millet that can help guide you towards quality products.

      • Radha says:

        here is another link that explains how to make ragi flour. in this link she talks about dry roasting the ragi prior to grinding into a flour. read the website carefully she explains a lot of details you need to know.

        http://veggieplatter.blogspot.com/2011/04/ragi-huri-hittu-and-unde-for-blogging.html

      • Radha says:

        today i saw a packets of kambu and cholam that were horrible quality. i couldn’t believe someone would sell that to a human being. it wasn’t fit even for an animal to eat.

        there are a lot of junk food millet products being sold, either processed or raw grain. just because something is a millet product do not buy it. it doesn’t matter if its found in a fancy shop or on the street. buying a bad millet product can be of more harm than good. so do as much research possible. talk to our elders, they would know better since their generation ate it. i myself am learning. after i found beetles in my kambu and all the other problems i mentioned, i threw those products in the trash.

        someone suggested that millet should always be stored in its hull then pound it when you need it. also sometimes they would keep a bag of salt or a block of real not fake asafoedita in the grain to keep insects away.

      • Radha says:

        type jowar in search for recipe box for more ideas on cholam.
        http://thecuisine.blogspot.com/search/label/jowar

      • Radha says:

        sometimes if you soak the millet the unhulled grains, meaning the grains that still have the shell on float right to the top.
        you just scoop them off. they are really pretty to see.

        this is a good article on millet because it mentioned some of the issues with it. 1. millets have phytic acid like many grains. phytic acid blocks iron absorption. so there were ways to deal with this. my guess is that the grain was soaked. 2. another problem is millets have goitrogens, this blocks iodine uptake, so this is a problem for people who have thyroid issues. you just need to make sure you are getting enough iodine. we need very little iodine per day. i’m not sure how we dealt with goitrogens, this i’m reading on. 3. millets might have been steamed. this is an interesting cooking method that we tamilians did in the past which i don’t see people doing much today. we definitely use to steam rice in special baskets over a pot of boiling water. so i assume we did the same for millet. afterall, ragi puttu, ragi sevai and ragi idli are steamed.

        http://chetday.com/millet.html

        there are a lot of junk health foods sold. so when in doubt
        throw it out.

      • Radha says:

        this is a good source of information on millets and talks about the nutritional inhibitors in millet. i’m sure we had ways of dealing with them.
        http://www.fao.org/docrep/T0818E/T0818E00.htm#Contents

        my concern is that the bran of millet is being removed either by machine or villagers hand pounding it. i know some villagers are removing some bran to certain hand pounded rices or kai kuthal arisi. maybe they think it causes rice to cook longer or is harder to digest. yet with proper food prep it shouldn’t be a problem. i have eaten whole grain rice with bran fully in tact with no problem. so just because it is hand pounded doesn’t mean it is whole grain.

      • Radha says:

        nattu and hybrid millet. some millets are from seeds farmers have saved which they believe over time have grown very well for them. others sell millets from hybrid of genetically modified seeds. there are differences between the two after i spoke to a woman who cooks with millets. she tends to buy nattu. i think at kannan department stores they sell both varieties.

      • Radha says:

        whenever people question quality, people disguise the problem more. please be aware of this. for example, in ghee, they know people look for fragrance. however, what they will do is take
        bad ghee and mix it with ghee with fragrance just some, and sell it like this. the customer then thinks oh it is fragrant, when the product is actually bad, but they are using fragrance to hide mask this to disguise the spoilage.

        if millet has insects that doesn’t mean they should spray it with pesticides. sorghum produces cyanide i think in its leaves, the plant itself produces its own pesticide, then why spray it? this is why never eat sprouted sorghum or cholam. never sprout it. sprout only grains meant for sprouting. usually problems come to a plant due to improper planting conditions. like overcrowding. not spacing them well. improper citing. so spraying with pesticides treats the symptoms not the root cause. so symptoms will keep reinventing itself in other ways no matter how much you try to mask it. learn as much as you can and use your own common sense. if something doesn’t look
        right to you throw the product out.

      • Radha says:

        spoiled grains.

        when you sort your millet grain on a plate look for any spoiled grains. i bought i packet of millet that was spoiled and threw it out. also grains should not be dried and shriveled up like a prune or raisin. i bought one packet like this and threw that out also.

        usually a nice millet grain will look milky, like pretty creamy pearls. some grains that are spoiled end up in the mix. they might look blackish grayish almost. like as if it had a mold or fungal problem.

        this is why i like it when the grain is stored in the hull, or shiny shell. nature’s own natural packaging. the hull helps protect the grain against moisture, heat, light and insects. villagers then pound it and the grain pops out of its shell.

        sometimes, they might mix different varieties of grain in the same package that look similar when dehulled or out of its shell,
        but when in the hull are not. that is why having it in the hull is good, you know its all the same grain. we can’t expect others to do all the work for us, if you really want quality, healthy foods we have to put some effort in it as well.

      • Radha says:

        do not buy bleached grains. another way to disguise spoilage and to make grains appear white for visual appeal is to bleach them. i think this is done with poha or aval. there are millet flakes being sold so if this is being done to rice, it can be done to millet flakes. usually i think a real rice aval will be brown or red. also do not buy dyed grains. sometimes to make something appear like a whole grain they will dye it some color. this is done with certain rices and with ragi. i have seen ragi flour sold colored with a coloring to make it look like ragi. this is why we need to seek out genuine farmers and develop a good relationship with them. they can teach us a lot.

      • Radha says:

        everyone this is a yummy dish with thinnai with a sweet story. enjoy.
        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2012/06/thinai-urundai-foxtail-millet-balls.html

      • Radha says:

        restore took part in this safe food mela in chennai. great article.
        http://www.cookatease.com/chennai-safe-food-mela-to-create-awareness-on-pesticide-free-food

      • Radha says:

        a beautiful dish on cholam. enjoy. thank you Raman for allowing me to post on your website.
        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2012/07/cholam-saadham-sorghumjowar-rice.html

      • Radha says:

        Safe Food Mela this weekend
        3.00 P.M to 7.00 PM, Sunday Aug 12th 2012
        Anna Park (Chennai Corporation) United India Colony
        Kodambakkam, Chennai. They will have organic outlets from around the city setting up their stalls with a variety of products (fresh greens, millets, traditional rices, honey, snacks etc.), as also food-stalls selling tasty ready to eat organic fare.

        http://indiaforsafefood.in/events

      • Radha says:

        beautiful dish on samai, varagu, and thinai. i am very grateful to this blog writer for her amazing posts. she’s doing wonderful work.

        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2012/08/saamaivaraguthinai-soru-little.html

      • Radha says:

        beautiful dish, happy pongal everyone.
        (sorry if i posted a link that didn’t work…)

        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2013/01/kudiraivali-saadham-sundaikkai-kaara.html

      • Radha says:

        please note io the above post regarding kudiraivali rice, she uses polished or i think millet without the bran layer on. (i’m writing to her to ask why..)

      • Radha says:

        awesome post on samai. please note she used the polished grain, i’m asking her why. btw this is one of my favorite sites on tamil cooking. check out her other dishes.

        http://passionatetrials.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/saamai-arisi-kozhukattai-steamed-little-millet-dumplings/

        above i wrote about how millet is in animal grade and human grade. now i’m not sure if there are specific varieties of millet better suited for animals to eat (that was an assumption i made). however the human grade is cleaned up better. less sticks stones and debris.

      • Radha says:

        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2013/02/cholamaavu-kaara-puttu-kambu-urundai.html?m=1

        To make puttu read meenakshi ammal’s cookbook samaithu par. Puttu should have no lumps and be sifted three times, after roasting, after wetting with rock salt water, after steaming. Google the word jallada to see what a sifter looks like.

      • Radha says:

        http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=Q-S24adVBA0&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQ-S24adVBA0

        I googled jallada and couldn’t find pictures of sifters. Sorry about that. Here’s a video on how to sift flour for puttu/pittu. I posted part 2 of the video. Please watch all parts to the pittu video at her you tube website to see the pittu consistency. meenakshi ammal sifts it three times to avoid lumps. Most people making pittu are skipping this step which they should not do.

      • Radha says:

        http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?feature=plcp&context=C4adc048VDvjVQa1PpcFPsbeg4HU_Gl1ngjQ23-cEeDHiWEuv8LAc%3D&v=up3y-rb6q84&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dup3y-rb6q84%26feature%3Dplcp%26context%3DC4adc048VDvjVQa1PpcFPsbeg4HU_Gl1ngjQ23-cEeDHiWEuv8LAc%253D

        Here’s a video on pittu. Note they didn’t sift the flour but should have. I’m posting this so you can see the pittu steaming basket that is shown in the cholam pittu recipe.

      • Radha says:

        http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=JwPFdcMUGCQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DJwPFdcMUGCQ

        Another pittu video using different steamer. I think they should have sifted the flour more. Pittu was the main way kambu, cholam, kelvaragu and red rice were eaten.

      • Radha says:

        http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?feature=relmfu&v=up3y-rb6q84&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dup3y-rb6q84%26feature%3Drelmfu

        This is another way puttu is made. It use to be steamed in a piece of bamboo, but today we see aluminum or steel…in the video it looks like she uses brass. In the above videos I thought they showed the bamboo steaming basket, which is another method, but they used metal. Sorry about that. Here’s some pictures.

        http://thefeastforall.com/traditional-kitchen-equipments/

      • Radha says:

        Sorry I reposted the above video. This is the video and the steaming baskets actually were made of palmyra and coconut fronds. Puttu should sifted so there are no lumps. I like meenakshi ammals method from her book samaithu par.

        http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=pOxl3Ykzsdw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DpOxl3Ykzsdw

      • Radha says:

        http://www.blendwithspices.com/2013/03/korra-biyyam-mamidikaya-pulihora-millet.html

        I think millet should be soaked, yet I am still trying to figure out how exactly it was done.

      • Radha says:

        http://www.kaarasaaram.org/search?q=Millet

        Nice blog on millets with words of caution. She writes:

        A word of caution: Both foxtail millet and horsegram increases the body heat. So it is advisable to avoid consuming large quatities especially in summer. It is beneficial to include these grains in winter and moderation is everything [say once a week]. Too much of anything has reverse effects. If still in doubt, then it is wise to consult your doctor regarding the nutritive value of these grains and consumption.

      • Radha says:

        Millet flour roti with peanut
        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2013/04/verkadalai-arisi-roti-thakkali-kaara.html?m=1

        She says grind flour at home avoid store bought flour.

      • Radha says:

        Kudiraivalli thattu idli (barnyard millet)
        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2013/04/thattu-idly.html?m=0

        Millets in Indian languages chart
        http://www.earth360.in/web/Millets.html

      • Radha says:

        I wrote before about hybrid and nattu varieties of millet, especially kambu.

        People push for growing engineered grains, as in the case of wheat, but some of these grains although high yielding, are causing issues in digestion. Wheat was engineered to have high gluten content, but this gluten is very difficult to digest. The body has to produce more acid to break it down which can cause hyperacidity and create heat and perhaps inflammation. It’s creating a stressful situation for the body to manage.

        Wheat was also engineered to not have a husk which protects it from pollution like a normal grass seed has. This husk plays a very important role in the health of the seed, and in our health, and the food engineers eliminated it because it is quicker to process the grain. They have done this with oats as well.

        So the wheat we see today looks like wheat, It looks like food but is not Functioning as food within the body. The body is not able to properly assimilate it.

        This is why we have nattu varieties. Many Ayurvedic practioners are struggling because these gmo seeds are not having the intended health benefits the original seeds had.

        I’m reading certain varieties of kambu are to be avoided, its not good for the skin, but I have to read more to confirm this.

        Here’s what little I could find on nattu Kambu. Apparently nattu Kambu is tiny like thinai and the hybrid is much bigger in size. This newcomer farmer seems to like the nattu seed better.

        http://csm-fanaa.blogspot.com/search?q=Kambu

        http://www.spicychilly.com/2012/04/kambu-koozh-pearl-millet-or-bajra.html

        I strongly urge everyone to ask your elders as much as you can on millet and document what they know. The knowledge is getting lost. We can’t have a biodiverse diet unless we know how to cook diverse things, which the elders knew. There are so many varieties of just cholam itself, each variety has to be cooked in special ways especially the red kind. Our cooking ignorance is creating these problems.

        If we don’t know how to cook a biodiverse diet the farmers will be forced to grow only one high yield gmo seed type, and I assume such a seed is very costly because the farmer has to pay for all the research that went into engineering that seed.

        And the Ayurvedic practioners won’t have the ancient seeds that were traditionally used to help people.

        Please ask your elders what they know and document it.

      • Radha says:

        Many of the millet recipes online are not the best methods and a very vague in how they are written leaving out very important details. They emphasize shortcuts but I feel nutritional value is getting lost.

        Please ask your elders what they know about millet, as old of a generation as possible and document what they know. Their methods help maintain nutritional value not destroy it.

        Here is a method making idiyappam in I think a better way, similar to how we make idli batter, but I need to confirm if this method is okay for millets.

        http://www.aayisrecipes.com/2006/08/07/rice-noodles-with-sweet-coconut-milk-shevayisevai-and-rosu/

      • Radha says:

        In the idiyappam dish I posted a screw press was used and they would be steamed in a steamer of elegant shape that might have efficiently released steam for better idiyappam results.

        The screw press allows you to press the fermented idlis into idiyappam.

        Here are pictures of a steamer and what a screw press use to look like. I encourage you to attend a cookware exhibition to learn more on cookware arts.

        http://parayilat.blogspot.com/2008/06/kerala-kitchen-some-implements-of-past.html

        http://www.spicychilly.com/2011/07/idiyappam-with-ishtoo.html

        http://www.cookatease.com/traditional-kitchenware-exhibition-at-poompuhar-showroom-chennai

      • Radha says:

        Even though a millet product will appear clean, still it can be spoiled. I bought thinai that was very clean but after eating it I didn’t feel good the following day. My guess is it was old grain.

        Often expiration dates can be inaccurate. I have seen whole grain rice with fine expiration date but could tell it was old and not to be eaten.

        Some say millet should be tested by roasting it on medium flame to see if it pops or puffs. I assume this was done in an iron kadai. If it doesn’t, and burns DO NOT USE. If you are cooking the millet and its easily burning somehow, don’t use it, even if it looked clean. Our elders have other tips on selecting quality which I don’t know so please ask them and document it.

        Some women whose recipes I’ve posted here pound their grain fresh.

        To pop

        http://veggieplatter.blogspot.com/2011/04/ragi-huri-hittu-and-unde-for-blogging.html

        One method to dehusk at home. I haven’t tried this.

        http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2012/07/cholam-saadham-sorghumjowar-rice.html

        Note bigger millets like cholam and kambu were not cooked whole but ground then cooked. However I need to confirm if this is true for nattu kambu because it is tiny unlike hybrid which is
        big.

  8. Rajashree says:

    I am so happy to read your article today. I have been trying to get details of these millets (receipes, quality, distributors etc) for the past few weeks. I am so happy to find one in T.Nagar. I will definitely try it out. Also as other reader Bharathi said i tried Thenai arisi and found that though the rice was cooked there was a hard outer layer (Probably husk?) which made it hard to eat.

  9. Radha says:

    can you please teach us specific recipes you make at home? especially how to cook these things as regular rice?

    • ramanchennai says:

      The site millets.wordpress.com and restore.org.in contains many recipes. We mainly use varagu in pongal and dosai. Thinai in Adai and Payasam.

      • Radha says:

        which ones do you cook as daily meal rice? simply boil and eat with curry.. if you cook as rice do you soak it and then use soaking water for cooking?

      • ramanchennai says:

        I do not use as daily meal rice. Use it in pongal, dosa or adai.

  10. Rajashree says:

    I have used thinai, samai and varagu. which i have bought from Restore. I cook them as normal rice in the pressure cooker, and used it as regular rice. I soak them in 1: 2 to 2.5 measures of water and soak it for 15 min and pressure cook it along with regular rice for other members of the family. I have been using it for nearly 2 months now. I am yet to try other dishes with them.

    • Radha says:

      have you eaten them on their own as rice, without mixing it with rice?

    • Radha says:

      here she mentions the same. pressure cooking millets. and she says its totally fine and good for you.
      http://kitchenrhapsody.blogspot.com/2012/07/ragi-kali-ragi-koozh-kambangoozh.html

      however, i’m debating on this because i’m thinking they were slow cooked on stove or steamed in baskets.

      • Radha says:

        someone wrote the following:
        the indigenous peoples of the Malaya peninsular still plant millet (pretty sure it’s foxtail ver.) in forest clearings and process it with lots of fun, pounding it in a carved wooden mortar in the house. When it’s pounded the smell from it is really amazing, like Rivita biscuits being baked. But it’s hard work and hand-blistering.

        There are six stages to the process (not including harvesting and hanging the stalks up every where in the house):
        1. turning the grain in a pan on the fire to heat the grain.
        2. pounding in the mortar, often by three or four men together, who have to get the timing right, get a rhythm going so they don’t hit each other’s poles
        3. sifting off the husk with a tray
        4. separation of broken grains from non-broken with a very skilled movement of a tray
        5. re-pounding of unbroken grain
        6. sifting and separation again.

        The typical preparation of the millet is done with the help of the local cooking pot, the bamboo tube. Millet is put in bamboo tubes with water and cooked with a stick to stir it (also needs washing first or else will be bitter to taste).

        the cooked millet from the bamboo is like cake and it’s delicious and filling. It’s also easy to plant, as one only needs to scatter seed and it grows almost wildly. It also treats the ground better than other crops.

        They call it PEY.

      • Radha says:

        i have been experimenting with various methods to cook millet. i think it should be cooked and eaten right away. otherwise if the millet is left to sit out it gets very dry and you can get constipated when it is eaten dry. i have tried adding water to get it to be more moist but it doesn’t work so well. so please try to eat millet freshly cooked and when it is moist, not hard and dry. i personally like it when it is like creamy pongal or a creamy bisi bele bath type of consistency.

      • Radha says:

        anything can be good anything can be poisonous. millets are only good when grown correctly, harvested correctly, purchased correctly, cooked correctly, and eaten correctly. otherwise they can be of more harm than good.

        some people are promoting millets as a healthy food, however are not truly caring about health, but have a political agenda or business agenda instead. this is dishonest and please avoid being cheated by such people. either they want votes or money or perhaps want you to fund some secret organization etc, but have no genuine care for your health even though they pretend to be sweet, nice and promising.

        often millet comes in human grade and animal grade. sometimes, the animal grade is sold as human grade. animal grade is meant for animal feed. it is not cleaned well and wasn’t stored well. there are many varieties of millets and certain varieties are good for human consumption for better digestion, whereas some are better suited for animal consumption. animal grade is probably what was “donated” as food aid.

        i hope that people will use what i write for good and not to abuse what i have written for that is possible to and so be aware of such people.

        there is a lot of food fraud that it seems impossible for government to regulate it all, so they let a lot of things slide by. so we can’t expect government to regulate each and everything it won’t happen. there are going to be things on food labels that are not factually correct and not true. this is true for either a western or eastern government. government can only do so much we have to take a lot of initiative ourselves. just because something came from the west doesn’t mean that food label is totally correct it is going to be inaccurate to some extent.

      • Radha says:

        i want to share this article from novemeber 2012.

        http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm

        we need real organic food, not fake organic food,
        food NOT grown on contaminated soil, with contaminated water, and NOT fertilized with contaminated manure. here’s why:

        ARSENIC IN RICE:

        in the usa it has been found that there is arsenic in the organic and non organic rice, white and brown rices and yes parboiled rices. so just because you are buying organic doesn’t mean it is free of contaminants like arsenic.

        so why arsenic is of concern to human health?
        in my opinion, which the article didn’t mention, is arsenic can lead to vitmain b1 deficiency or thiamine deficiency.
        it blocks the uptake of b1 which is an essential vitamin needed for the body to function. it might possibly lead to iron deficiency as well or anemia and the body needs iron to function.

        if you are eating rice which is a source of vitmain b1, the arsenic in the rice is blocking that b1 from getting absorbed.

        even if we eat foods with vitmains in it we might not absorb those vitmains due to the contaminants in the food that block their absorption by our body. so even if the rice is parboiled or fortified, the arsenic in the rice can still block vitamin b1 absorption. so if you are paying more money for parboiled or fortified rice, yet it has arsenic in it blocking vitmain b1 absorption, then the rice is not serving is not truly feeding you. i assume the arsenic remains in the blood so it might even interfere with absorbing vitmain b1 from other foods you eat like meat, or perhaps even from a vitmain pill you take. this is just a guess.

        arsenic comes from insecticides. arsenic is one of the substances used to destroy insects that infest crops.

        even if someone wants to grow organic food, if they grow it on land that had heavy insecticide use in the past, the arsenic in the insecticide remains in the soil and can get absorbed by the crops that are grown on it, even if grown by organic methods. soil can remain contaminated.

        also organic farmers use manure to fertilize their crops. to control disease in animals the animals are fed with feed that has arsenic in it. this then passes out into their manure which is then passed onto crops which absorb it from the soil fertilized with the manure having arsenic in it. see how this cycle works? the arsenic just keeps traveling through the environment from animal, to soil, to plant and then to humans just the way a disease would travel.

        so the arsenic not only passes onto the soil whatever is in the soil then passes onto the water supply and there are many scientific studies done on how water is contaminated with arsenic. rice gets heavily affected because rice is grown in a lot of water and absorbs what is in that water.

        so is it really worth it to use insecticides with arsenic? it creates even more problems instead of solving problems. what appeared to be a gain is actually a loss.

        even if arsenic is not used as much in the past, scientists keep inventing new insecticides, because insects eventually develop resistance to them, but what are the affects on human health ?

        what is real organic? often organic foods are just fertilized with waste from the meat industry. but this is called organic and we pay more money for it.

        whatever drugs animals are given will pass onto their manure and onto the crops fertilized with that manure. so whatever the animal eats we eventually eat. so there are americans seeking organic foods grown using non meat industry waste products.

        whatever we do to plants and animals eventually comes back to us, and often in unexpected ways. (for example, how cows treated with hormones, had those hormones pass onto the milk and then onto people who drank that milk causing inflammation and severe acne.)

        agri “culture” is a culture. when you try to alter the agri “culture” you are altering the “culture” of a society. agriculture is our culture, our tamil culture.

        we need real organic food, not fake organic food,
        food NOT grown on contaminated soil, with contaminated water, and NOT fertilized with contaminated manure.

  11. Radha says:

    everyone this is a fantastic dish, kambu sadam and kambu koozh please check it out.

    http://www.spicychilly.com/2012/04/kambu-koozh-pearl-millet-or-bajra.html

  12. Radha says:

    for those wanting to cook with millet this weekend for our Tamil New Year, check out this website. for more millet dishes, type “millet” under the search for a recipe box on the rightside of the screen. here i have posted dishes that use thinai or foxtail millet.

    http://thecuisine.blogspot.com/2012/01/foxtail-millet-pongal-healthy-diet-plan.html

    http://thecuisine.blogspot.com/2011/12/kobbari-korra-biyyam-payasam-millet-and.html

    millets in different languages chart:
    http://www.earth360.in/web/Millets.html

    • Radha says:

      my mother told me millets were always boiled on low or medium heat. i don’t recommend pressure cooking millets because they are like milk having fat protein and vitamins as long as it is dehulled, unoplished millet. do we pressure cook milk? usually we gradually boil milk, so same should be with millet. this way the fats, proteins, and vitamins are preserved.

      they should still cook fast given they are very water soluble. if they don’t just add a lot more water and they will soften up eaisly.

    • Radha says:

      type “jowar” or “sorghum” in the search for a recipe box on the right side of the screen to get more recipes for cholam millet or sorghum millet.

      http://thecuisine.blogspot.com/2010/08/jonna-rotte-traditional-jowar-roti.html

    • Radha says:

      roti ideas
      http://www.blendwithspices.com/search/label/roti

      Please always use traditional Indian iron tawa for millet roti so it won’t easily burn. Never use nonstick skillets. They are awful cookware. Iron retains heat and distributes heat better so you can use it on lower heat settings to prevent burning and still effectively cook. Avoid burn spots. If its burning your flour might be old, you have bad cookware, your heat settings are too high or you have excess dusting flour that should be wiped off with wet rag that was burning up.

      Millet rotis didn’t have oil because the millet itself has high fat content from the germ So no need for oil.

      If you have trouble making the roti here is a way to shape them so they don’t break. Village women do the same method but way faster. Pat the flattened ball, then turn your hand to the right. Pat it then turn your hand to the right. See video by shruti below.

      flour dusted surface should not touch pan and excess flour should be dusted off with wet cloth, this is to prevent burning.

      A banana leaf or something waxy should be used to make the roti so you can transfer it to the tawa without breaking it.

      It should be eaten right away because millets go dry fast.

      Use freshly ground flour so it sticks better and won’t taste spoiled. Fresh flour has higher moisture content needed for sticking. Millets go bad fast so they were eaten fresh.

      Hire a villager to teach you roti making if in doubt. They can explain more details, like which millet varieties they prefer for roti.

      Personally I like cooking millets as moist sadam. It digests better. I don’t like roti or dry breads as much. The above tips are based on all my mess ups :)

    • Radha says:

      More examples of my millet mistakes.

      Millet is to be had in specific combinations
      Don’t combine ragi with dates. I didn’t feel good afterwards.

      Don’t overcook ragi where it turns very dark almost a black hue. I didn’t feel good afterwards. Properly cooked ragi with have a certain hue of red.

      If possible buy freshly ground flour.
      Some say store bought ragi flour may cause stomach upset. My store bought ragi flour was sandy and dry, so my idiyappam came out dry and dosa tasted like sand. I threw my idiyappam and dosa out.

      If possible buy freshly pounded from a place where product moves fast and isn’t siting around spoiling.
      I bought thinai and panivaragu pre packaged, it was very clean, but I didn’t feel good afterwards. My guess was it was old grain.

      If your millet has insects, insect eggs, and nasty taste, don’t eat it, but its a good sign. you have a living grain. its reacting with the air causing its vitamins and fat to go bad, and insects want to eat it and lay their eggs in it. If grain will never show these problems at some point ironically I would stay away from it, it means the grain isn’t reacting with the nature.

    • Radha says:

      I read the store bought ragi flour doesn’t properly ferment and so freshly ground batter from whole grain is better.

      This is an intersting article on fermentation so you can understand why proper fermentation is important. Ramasseri thattu idlis are special because they are properly fermented. See video below.

      I went to Chef Vinod’s restaurant Indique long ago. So yes he’s a real Chef.

      http://www.veggiebelly.com/2011/03/perfect-dosa-recipe.html

  13. Radha says:

    I wish Makkal TV posted all their millet programs in one section on their You Tube Channel. Please judge these episodes carefully, I can’t testify how accurate the cooking methods are however they give some good historical information.

    Siddha Medicine

    Dr. Arun Chinnaiah in Sathana Samayal

    thinai

    samai

    Dr Senthil Karunakaran, in Parambariya Samayal

    ragi

    Dr. Kripakaran in Parampariya Samayal

    ragi

    here the ragi part is mentioned…

    • Radha says:

      Neeya Naana show 3/24/13 international cuisine vs traditional food.

    • Radha says:

      I have recently learned some of the people in the videos I have posted are of questionable character and some of the information they present is not correct. Please watch with caution or perhaps Raman can remove these videos.

      Unfortunately there is limited quality information on millets in video format. Books seem to be better sources. But there are few books on the topic. Our village elders might be better sources.

      I apologize if I have promoted wrong information, I am trying to correct myself as I go along. I myself am struggling to learn.

    • Radha says:

      Kambu sadam. This might have been fermented which she didn’t do then cooked.

      I’m in the process of getting more accurate recipes because I find many recipes on TV and online not correct, including ones I may have posted in this blog. The best source is to ask as old of generation as possible and document what they know on video.

      http://www.youtube.com/user/Tamilsamaiyal?feature=watch

    • Radha says:

      Millets why did we forget?
      I’m asking this now because all the makkal tv videos I posted above have been removed! Those who saw it when I first posted are fortunate, the entire show has been removed from the Internet! Is someone wanting us to forget?

  14. Arulraj says:

    Women’s Collective a women farmers group has a outlet of millet snacks and a millet canteen called “Parampariya” @ Kolathur. You may contact them at 25501257.

  15. nadavu says:

    Lot of info . Special thanks to reader Radha for the elaborate feedbacks and info.

  16. madhav says:

    I work as a retail manager with nilgiris super market located in hasthinapuram, near chromepet. I had lots of inquiries on the products mentioned above. Traced the vendor n got the stocks. Amazingly am indenting twice in a week. The products seriously moves fast than the usual ones. Only now I came to know the health benefits. Thanx for the article.
    If you have any query, kindly contact me in 044 43575657.
    Rgds
    Madhav

  17. Radha says:

    Dear Mr. Madav,

    The quality of millets being sold where I am, is not good. (i have never shopped at your store this is in regards to others stores) Please learn from my experience so that your millet products are good quality.

    The millets will have the following problems:

    -the grain was not properly stored so they dry out and become blackened and shriveled, and the oils in the grain go bad. or if they are not properly stored insects infest the grain and lay eggs in the grain. the insects are very tiny often hard to see to the eye, but they will appear like little tiny beetles with a long curved nose.to the eye they will appear like tiny threads but look closer with a lens or zoom lens camera and you’ll see they’re beetles. when you spread grain thin on a plate you’ll notice them more. or the grain will take on a very foul odor. freshly harvested grain is always best. perhaps inform your customers when the harvest will be ready ahead of time, like via email, so they will be prepared to purchase.

    -it is better for the grain to be stored in its protective shiny shell, keep in a cool dark place. then pound the grain so the edible part pops out, and use right away. this is how it was done.
    if someone promises some miracle millet product that deviates from this i would be doubtful. if a store offered to pound grain fresh for the customer that would be good.

    -millet grain should be ground fresh, usually pre ground grain goes bad. it will have a very nasty metallic taste and will be dry. fresh grain will have a pleasant smell and will be moist so that when you make roti it will stick better due to the moisture.
    if people use wheat in millet perhaps its because they are using dry old millet flour, so they use wheat to get it to stick.

    preground grains are not a guarantee sticks stones and insects were not ground up with the grain. it happened to me, i didn’t notice the insects in the grain because they were so tiny and ground them up with the grain.

    -the best method for grinding grain is to use non reactive granite stone that keeps cool, or to use a method where the grain doesn’t overheat so the oils in the grain don’t spoil. granite was used because it doesn’t react with the oils in the grain and it keeps cool so it doesn’t overheat the grain. metal gets hot and can be reactive with oils. if a store offered to grind grain fresh using stone method, which the stones were safely cleaned each day with simple soap and water, that would be nice. it is very important these grinders are kept clean in a safe way so that chemical residue from cleaning agents don’t build up on the grinder and contaminate the millet to be used for food.which is why i suggested soap and water.

    i have seen small chakis or stone grinders you can put on kitchen counter top for the home so you can do it at home.

    -millets can have sticks, stones, and dirt that need to be removed. some farmers are very good at processing millet in small batches so they are free of this debris. when done in small batches they can concetrate more on keeping it clean. if forced to produce in large batches they might get stressed and can’t concentrate on the fine details of cleaning the grain so the grain won’t be as clean.

    -some unethical people will sell some other grain as millet even though it is not millet. or they will use food colorings or false fragrances or fillers that are not millet but something else. please be aware of what millet is really suppose to be so that these fakes aren’t sold as millet, or used to disguise rancid millet products. this is a common problem with food products.

  18. Viji says:

    Nice. Can you give recipes?

    • ramanchennai says:

      Thanks for visiting my blog. For receipies look at the comments posted by Radha. You can get some at restore website also.

  19. Radha says:

    Thattu idli

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

  20. Radha says:

    Please see the very bottom of this blog for videos on thattu idli, the above millet idli is based on this. The videos accidentally got posted on the bottom.

  21. Srinath says:

    hi
    I am a small processor of millets based in Theni which is about 75kms from Madurai. Presently Theni is one of the few places in Tamilnadu where millets are processed on a pretty large scale. Until last year millets like Barnyard millet(kuduraivali) and kodo millet(varagu) which when processed about 95% of our processed millets were sent to North India to places like Ahmedabad, Delhi, Indore, Nagpur etc. Slowly but surely local sales within the state of Tamilnadu is catching up and making significant strides with more awarness among the public after numerous articles on books and newspapers.

    I currently process 4 types of millets
    Samai
    Tenai
    Varagu and
    Kudraivali.

    These processed millets can be currently brought in places like
    Coimbatore
    Madurai
    Virudhunagar
    Theni
    Sivakasi
    Kovilpatti
    Tirunelveli
    Chennai
    Vridhachalam
    Dharapuram
    Pondicherry
    Neyveli
    Trichy

    If any one in these places require millets you may drop in an email to me and I can direct you to the shops in those places. Prices of these millets at the retail end is between 40 and 50 rupees per kg. Any thing above that is pure premium pricing.

    I am a businessman and my motive is to make profits but I too care for the well being of the public and I am hoping to save our native crops for the future generation. Farmers are reluctant to take up millet as a crop due to poor demand among the public in Tamilnadu. The only way to increase farming of these crops is demand pull from the customer side. More demand from public will increase prices of these millets which in turn should increase prices for these raw millets which is beneficial to the farmer. Remember only if the farmer is suitably compensated for his produce would he ever think about farming.

    Before I leave please consider the plight of farmers. In every village farming families are ready to leave their profession at the drop of a hat as it has hardly been helpful for them to earn a decent living. The average age of farmers is about 60 years right now and they are fast reaching retirement age and their children are moving to towns and cities for other jobs. Who is going to provide food for us when all these farmers retire? That is a million dollar question.

    Email: srinathradhakrishnan@hotmail.com

    • ramanchennai says:

      Dear Srinath Radhakrishnan
      Thanks for visiting my blog. What you said about farming is absolutely correct. It is high time we give priority and attention to farmers. One of the ways to give farmers more is less middlemen between farmer and consumer.

      I will be happy to buy products from you. Please let me know details of your shops in Chennai. If may post address of all shops here for the benefit of public.

      • Srinath says:

        Sir
        You may contact a shop by the name A. Perumal(Naatu marindhu kadai). The contact number is 044 – 25384480. He is a recent customer of mine and if ready stock is not available with him I will get it done immediately.

      • Radha says:

        From a search I came across
        A Perumal & Company , Sowcarpet , Chennai
        Category: Ayurvedic Medicine Clinics
        Phone: (044) 25386931
        Address: Old-29, New-57, Audiappa Naicken Street, Sowcarpet, Chennai- 600079, Tamil Nadu
        Landmark: Near Maha Shakti International

      • Radha says:

        It seems this place moved nearby and has a new number which is why the numbers differ. Yet I feel freshly pounded millet upon request consumed right away is a better way to go especially for Ayurveda. How to make it possible is the other million dollar question.

    • Radha says:

      How are you processing the small millets? Are you leaving the bran or thavidu on the millet or are you polishing it off like they do with white rice? How are the millets husked, by soaking in water then pounding or are you using some type of chemical lye like they may do with sesame seeds?

      • Srinath says:

        Sorry to say that I am polishing these millets similar to white rice which robs itself of significant amount of nutrients. The most healthy way to eat these millets is the same as hand pounded rice. Demand for that sort of rice is practically nil.
        The consuming public assume that colour of the processed millets signifies quality. Sad state of affairs.

        These millets are not soaked in water during processing and I can assure you no chemicals are involved during processing these millets.

        Tip: In case you are interested to try out any of these millets prepare ven pongal using varagu rice – it is brilliant. The preparation is the same as preparing using paddy rice.

    • Radha says:

      During Navarathri I see North Indians eat Samo or moraiyo or sanwa . I looked at the bag and it always looks white but possibly its original color is yellow and you can eat it as yellow but it is polished white perhaps ? Im not sure. They never eat this daily only for fasting so I was scared to eat it especially daily. I thought it might be kuduraivali but the Latin name on the bag was different than kuduraivali’s Latin name. Any idea what this is?

      I’m also curious what the North Indians do with your product?

      • Srinath says:

        . Kuthuravali rice is white in colour

        . Samai rice is light golden yellow in colour (very difficult to differentiate between both by a layman, but you should get used to it)

        . Varagu rice is white in colour & each grain size is slightly bolder than the above two

        . Thinai rice is yellow in colour

      • Radha says:

        I have seen varagu not white but light brownish with orange tinge which when cooked appears same color, not white. Maybe after polishing it becomes like white rice?

  22. Srinath says:

    As general information to all people who are interested in buying these millets please store them in your refrigerator. Rice kept outside for more than 10-15 days will have a rancid smell and also be affected by small red bugs.

    • Radha says:

      How long can millet store in the fridge without mold issues?

      I thought in order to husk millet they soak in water first? I have no problem with this.
      But I am curious how your millets are processed if you are not soaking them?

      It would help if you created a blog that teaches us how to properly select quality millet, how to properly store it, how to prepare it prior to cooking like should we soak it, for how long to soak, whether we use soaking water for cooking or throw it out or there is no need to soak? What is the proper vessel to cook in like copper, brass, or clay? Often brass was used I think for rice cooking. And what is the proper method to cook millet? Like often rices and millets were steamed in pittu baskets or special steamers.

      Also what is the safe amount of millet to consume per week and which foods we can and cannot have with millet, in other words what are the right combinations millet can be eaten in? Like I read thinai creates heat so we should have it once a week but we need 21 meals per week so what to have for rest of the week? Also millets due to how they create heat were had with buttermilk but real buttermilk is not made.

      It would help if you can tell us of an expert in proper millet cooking like an Ayurvedic expert or a very knowledgeable villager who grew and ate millet for generations. There are a lot of millet guidelines we need, like dos and donts that the elder generation once knew.

      • Radha says:

        In addition, how the villagers ate this daily? What should our daily meals be like? Like, if I have x millet in the morning then which millet is safe to eat afterwards for lunch and then what is safe to eat after for dinner so that we don’t eat the wrong combination so we avoid having gas and stomach upset etc. See polished white rice is neutral it goes with almost anything, but red rice which is one of rices orginal colors doesn’t go with everything. See what I mean? These are things we need to figure out.

      • Radha says:

        I read that varagu, thinai, and kambu all produce heat and should be eaten in moderation during hot days so they don’t overheat the body. Often buttermilk was had with millet to cool the body but real buttermilk is often not made. Kambu given it produces heat was eaten more during winter when it is cold so we can keep warm.

        So millets should be eaten according to the weather.

        Millets in their freshly pounded state are whole grains. So we need to determine the right portion size to eat per meal so our bodies don’t overheat as well.

        I would guess no more than 1 Chinese rice bowl size that can hold 3/4 ths a cup cooked millet. The Chinese are very wise in eating. I often see East Asians eating brown rice which is another whole grain, in these rice bowls. Whole grains make you feel full sooner but refined grains like white rice don’t so we eat more to feel full, but this might be too much starch for the body to handle. So sugar levels may rise unless you do some physical work like farmers to burn it off . So the Chinese eat in those rice bowls designed to hold the right amount of cooked rice or perhaps millet so they don’t get too much starch or their body doesn’t overheat. They usually have only 1 rice bowl per meal.

        The Indians might say 1 fist full which might equal what this 1 chinese rice bowl holds of cooked rice.

        So when eating whole grains we might need to eat less than the serving size of refined white rice we are use to. My guess is 1/8 to 1/4 cup dry uncooked grain per person, no more than this. These are the numbers I often see on the nutritional labels.

        It would help if an Ayurvedic scholar or village elder could give guidance.

        It’s important to determine rice serving size per meal.

    • Radha says:

      How long does millet keep in the refrigerator for?

  23. Srinath says:

    Some general information I had received from a villager in the recent past is

    . Hindus maybe aware that all temples perform kumbaabhishekam every 12 years. During this ceremony navadhaniyam is tied in a small bag and hung up at the gopuram during that period. In olden days people had done that to use those valuable grains in the event their existing crops had been destroyed by natural calamities.

    . These millets were said to possess properties of sprouting into new ones for this period upto 12 years. That is why kumbaabhishekams are performed every 12 years and new navadhaniyam is replaced at that ceremony.

    . Varagu is also said to have lightning conducting properties and this was also a reason they were tied to the top of these gopurams.

  24. Srinath says:

    The ideal person who should be able to provide a wealth of information about these millets is ‘Nammalvar’. He has given numerous interviews in various TV channels. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._Nammalvar)

    Sales of these millets are steadily growing and my estimate is about 100 tons of processed millets is being sold every month in the state of Tamil nadu. Dehusking millets on demand is difficult and what we do is process say about 10 tons of millets and store it in a cold storage. As per traders requirement we take delivery of the stock and nowadays mostly traders liquidate their stock within 15 days and come back with a repeat order.

    • Radha says:

      You might be keeping it in cold storage which must be very costly for you however when in transit and when sold in stores it’s not kept in cold storage I assume.

      I feel millet should be stored in husk and pounded when needed because that is how it was done for centuries. It’s nature’s own way of knowing how to protect itself best.

      This reminds me of the issues with tamarind. Farmers know that once tamarind comes out of its shell it loses its original color when exposed to heat, turns black, tamarind is not suppose to be black. They wanted it stored in cold storage units but no one was willing to provide it to them, it’s costly to keep building such units.

      I have used all tamarind products and honestly all processed tamarind is not as good as tamarind direct from the shell. In fact the mexican culture primarily use tamarind straight out of the shell. I need to ask them why.

      • Radha says:

        This is how the middleman problem starts. We pay more money for the management of a product than for the product itself.

        Milling for aesthetic appeal, marketing, distribution, cold storage etc.

        Yet the product itself has a lot of this management built into it and taken care of by God by having the husk.

        The shiny shell makes it waterproof and reflects light and heat away.

        The color helps resist oxidation and keep it cool and manage ideal temperature.

        The hard shell prevents it from getting smashed and eaten.

        Water, oxygen, heat, light all managed, the things that cause chemical breakdown. Cold storage may address only 1 of these which is heat.

        Management all provided by God with a 12 year warranty and For free! And we get to have a grand celebration at a temple when the warranty is over. Wow isn’t God so nice to us.

        Once that husk or shell comes off then the middleman costs come.

        So please ponder over this idea.

    • Radha says:

      Srinath, It would help if you could tell us how your family cooks millet and how the villagers cook it? Like what dishes do they make daily?

      Problem with Internet recipes is some of the methods taught might be wrong. Like its possible historically that millet rice was not cooked with the pot lid on but with the lid off because in one culture I learned about this was their cooking rule.

      So I’m curious how your family and the villagers cook millet?

  25. Giri Kumar says:

    This is for the attention of commentator Radha who has done a service by providing lot of info on millets. I think the commentator has learnt more by trial & error and has shared the experiences. At this juncture i would like to say that a neat compilation of these details would benefit millet loving people. I can help the commentator in this work if need be since i have sufficient free time. Mr. Raman the site owner and commentator Radha can contact me at rdpgiri@gmail .com. if you think this is a work that would be useful and would benefit a larger section of people from getting disappointed with the traditional millet cooking. Moreover I have another millet enthusiast Nachal by name who can help in trying out the receipes.

    • Radha says:

      This is an organized resource. I haven’t reviewed it yet.

      Recipes and cooking videos.

      http://www.dhan.org/smallmillets/booklets.php

      http://www.youtube.com/user/smallmillets?app=desktop&persist_app=1

    • Radha says:

      The problem is we should not see millet as just a food to be eaten. We need to see it as a system of thinking. When this thinking changed, the millets use to us is altered and does not become beneficial. Millet came from a system of thinking. Think of links in a chain, each link is proper growing, harvesting, husking that involved a pounder or yanthiram husker, storage, pre cooking preparation that involves soaking or roasting, then cooking, then eating in right combinations. When one link is altered, the entire chain is weakened, the nutrition is lost. The idea is to take the seeds initial energy and channel it to its intended goal, the eater, and to not loose that energy in the process. To convey this idea to the society is delicate task.

  26. blrajan says:

    You can get some more recipes at
    http://www.murugu.in

  27. Nanda says:

    Dhanyam has many varieties of millets. Check out their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DhanyamOrganicStore for millet recipes. The store is on North boag road, T. Nagar.

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