Millet is a grain that is eaten by many cultures around the world. It is one of the oldest cultivated grains and was grown in China almost 5000 years ago. Millet thrives in climates that are too hot and dry to grow wheat or rice, making it an important staple crop in many countries. Millet can be used in sweet or savory dishes as a flour, as a porridge, in soups and even fermented into an alcoholic beverage.
Millet is a very healthful grain with relatively high amounts of protein. It is a good source of B vitamins, as well as calcium, iron, potassium and other minerals. Millet has no gluten and can be useful to those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. It is also a good source of fiber. Millet can usually be found in supermarkets and whole food stores.
Millet should be rinsed to remove any impurities, then it can be soaked for a few hours, up to overnight, to reduce cooking times (this is an optional step). Dry roasting millet before cooking can help bring out a deeper flavor. Simply pour into a dry pan and toss or stir constantly for three to five minutes over medium heat. You should smell a nutty aroma when the millet is ready.
Then, add the millet to boiling water or stock, at a ratio of approximately 3 parts water to 1 part millet. Simmer the grain for around 30 minutes until the water is absorbed. The amount of water and the time will need to be reduced if you pre-soaked the grain. The more water you use, the more dense the cooked millet will be.
Then, take it off the heat and allow the millet to sit, covered for around 10 minutes. Millet cooked this way can be used like couscous or rice, and you can add spices, lemon juice or olive oil to the water while it is cooking to enhance the flavor. It can also be added to salads or soups.
Using Ground Millet
Millet doesn’t contain gluten, so it cannot be used exclusively in rising breads, however, it can be added to wheat flour for texture and fiber, and can be used to make flat breads, such as chapati.
Ground millet can also be used as a porridge. Simply add a few tablespoons to a cup of boiling water and stir for a few minutes until it thickens, then serve as you would oatmeal. Ground millet is also excellent when added to muffins and desserts, such as halwa.
Millet can be sprouted and eaten as a live food. Place 1/2 a cup of suitable millet in a bowl (sprouting millet can be brought online or through health food stores) and add 1-2 cups of water. Let the millet soak overnight, then drain off the water. Then rinse and drain the millet and leave in a spot where it will stay at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Every day, rinse and drain it again until it has sprouted to your taste.