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Make a meal of millets

The delicious sweets and savouries prepared with millets   | Photo Credit: Kedarnath

“There is thaedal for good health,” says R. Rajamurugan. People are turning to social media, books, and friends for information on making the transition to a healthy lifestyle, which is a good sign, he adds. Rajamurugan has been researching millets for over a decade now and says 2016 belongs to millets.

“Our forefathers always ate millets. It is making a comeback. People are taking a positive step. This shows that they care for their body and those of their children, family and friends. One meal of millets a day is a good way to begin,” he advises.

As the millet movement gains momentum, Rajamurugan says schools have to educate children about a healthy lifestyle. “It is also about having pesticide-free food, avoiding maida, hydrogenated vegetable fats, white sugar…” says the author of Nallasoaru, a Tamil recipe book on millets.

Rajamurugan, who is into organic farming at Tiruchengode, also visits schools and colleges to spread the word on sustainable living. His cooking workshops on millets are a big hit. Sixty-year-old Vijayeswari, one of the participants at his workshop, volunteered to translate the recipes from Tamil to English. And, he recently launched the English book.

Along with over 100 recipes, the new book packs in information on eight varieties that make up the family of small millets. He points to the picture of varagu rice in the book and says, “Brown is the colour. What is available in the market looks white because it is polished. The photographs of unpolished varieties will help readers buy the right one.”

There are nuggets on the appearance of millets along with their scientific names, vernacular names, and nutritional benefits.

There are recipes for tiffin items, snacks, sweets, savouries, variety rice, and porridges, pulavs, biriyani and fried rice and adai chaat too. “We give the basic ratio of water and the other ingredients. You can get creative with the recipes by adding pulses, greens and vegetables. Along with my grandma’s recipes of porivilangu urundai and adirasam, I have added items like paniyaaram and dosai from my experience,” says Rajamurugan.

If you are new to millets, start with thinai curd rice which tastes similar to rice, he says. Then, make millet dosas, puttu, pongal and variety rice. Use cold pressed gingelly or groundnut oil for the preparations. Avoid colouring and flavouring agents and replace white sugar with jaggery or palm sugar.

With a millet-diet, one can enjoy balance food, and also contribute to the environment.

“It is full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and is high on fibre content. The low glycemic index helps diabetics manage their blood insulin levels. The correct nutrients flush out excess fat and water from the body, which helps to control obesity and hormonal imbalances,” says Rajamurugan. As millets are rain-fed crops, the groundwater level can be preserved. And the crops don’t require any pesticides or fertilizers.

In the book, Rajamurugan also discusses millets that have to be avoided in certain seasons. “During winter, you have to reduce the intake of kambu (pearl millet) and instead have more of kaelvaragu (finger millet). Thinai (Foxtail millet) generates heat; so, it should be consumed along with ghee or butter milk. This also ensures good absorption of nutrients.”

His objective is to reach out to every household. “I will be happy when every house starts consuming millets four days a week. From 12 meals a week, it should become 21 meals. Our future generation will be healthy.”

The millet diet

Breakfast

Thinai or saamai kanji. Include dhal, spices, pepper, jeera, onion, tomato and chopped vegetables and add coconut milk in the end. This is a well-balanced and nutritious option. Keep changing the millet variety.

Lunch

Variety rice or plain rice with sambhar, rasam, puli kuzhamhu and buttermilk

Dinner

Idli, dosa, kichidi, adai, idiyappam…anything in steamed form is good. For idiyappam and kozhukattai, use raw rice variety of millets instead of the parboiled ones.

Snacks

Murukku, thattai, seedai

Choose the right one

Thinai is best suited for making adirasam, halwas, ven pongal, sweet pongal and curd rice

For pulav and biriyani, go for parboiled saamai, kurdiravaali, and varagu

Book details

To get a copy, call: 98426-72439/ 94420-10380

The English edition costs Rs. 160 and the Tamil one Rs. 150

To know more, visit Nallasoaru page on Facebook or e-mail: nallasoaru@gmail.com

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2020 9:37:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/begin-2016-with-millet-diet/article8050211.ece

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