Small but mighty

Various items prepared with millets at the Diet Kitchen of Coimbatore Diabetes Foundation Resort Hospital Photo: M. Periasamy   | Photo Credit: M. PERIASAMY

The power-packed breakfast platter of fruits, nuts, and vegetables now has another valuable addition: a bowl of millets. So, the menu now has thinai tomato rice, varagu karuveppilai rice, and kudiravaali lemon. “Acceptability of millets is increasing. What we need to do is get creative with recipes to improve their palatability,” says diabetologist Dr. V. Sekar.

He advises his patients to go on the millets diet and says they are happy with the results. “Compared to white rice or wheat, millets are high on fibre and control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Idli, dosa or chapatti are easily digested and,there will be excessive insulin secretion leading to weight gain. With millets, you eat slow and consume less because of the fibre content. The process stimulates the digestive juices and ensures slow digestion. This controls insulin secretion to a great level,” he says.

He recommends a bowl of variety millet rice or millet upma with curd for breakfast along with fruits, salads, steamed corn, and sundal. “Millets have to be consumed as whole grains in the form of rice or upma to get the nutritional benefits. Also, buy millets that are unpolished,” he explains.

A healthy lifestyle begins with awareness on buying unpolished millets for consumption, says R. Rajamurugan, author of Nalla Soru, a millet recipe book. “Unpolished millets come loaded with vitamins and minerals. When you spend extra to move to a millet-based lifestyle, ensure that you get the health benefits in its entirety,” he says.

Rajamurugan says millet works best for breakfast. “You can soak cooked millet rice overnight in water and have it the next morning with butter milk. This way, you get probiotics that keeps you energetic through the day. When consumed with ghee or buttermilk, millets help the body absorb the nutritious benefits immediately. As millets are gluten-free, you cannot experiment with rotis, cakes or biscuits. But, variety rice, adai, paniyaaram, puttu…you can even make payasam with millets with palm sugar or jaggery. ”

S. Arunkumar, who runs Paruthi Paalum Paniyaaramum eatery that specialises in millet food, says the health-conscious ones have woken up to the benefits of millets. “When they come here to dine, they are full of questions. We have chola kazhi, kudiravali puttu, uthappam, kozhukattai and many varieties of paniyaaram and millet savouries and sweets. We make it a point to explain the health benefits.”

Dr. Sekar says that bakery items have to be strictly avoided. “Most bakery items have hydrogenated vegetable oil like Dalda, which gets accumulated as our body cannot digest it. We tell our patients to consume ghee instead in moderation. Cold-pressed gingelly and groundnut oil can be used for the preparation. Also, the diet has to be substantiated with physical activity,” he says.

His Diet Kitchen at the Coimbatore Diabetes Foundation Resort Hospital in Maruthamalai serves millet-based food. Resident doctor P. Priyadarshini vouches for millets. “Along with millet diet, I followed a structured exercise schedule where I walk for a minimum of eight km a day and I lost 11 kg in three months,” she says. Priyadarshini has convinced her people back at home to adopt a millet-based lifestyle too.

Her colleague, Nagaraj Lakshmeswaran, lost 13 kg in four months. He has millets for breakfast, red rice and vegetables for lunch and adai for dinner.

Lifestyle modification is vital to embrace good health, says Sekar. “Did you know a 500 ml of aerated drink contains sugar content equivalent to 27 spoonfuls? Biscuits, noodles, parotta, aerated drinks… junk in any form should be out. According to WHO, any type of processed meat is carcinogenic. We should go back to our paati’s diet where everything was prepared fresh with masala ground at home. Even your idli batter stays fresh only for a couple of days. When you refrigerate it for a week, the water and air content will be more in idlis. This increases blood sugar. Along with millets, include raw vegetables, and fruits and get the dose of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.”

“Reduce carbs, replenish your diet with millets, and reject high calorie food; that is the mantra we advise for a healthy lifestyle,” says dietician B. Lakshmi of Diet Kitchen.

“We make varagu fried rice and biriyani with thinai and it tastes good. We conduct cooking demos on millets regularly too.”

Elaborating on the health benefits, Rajamurugan says millets sets right the vaatha, pitha, kapa balance of the human body.

“It flushes out toxins and replenishes the body with vitamins, minerals, carbs and good cholesterol. The fibre content ensures good digestive function. When the nutrients get absorbed, it ensures that all the organs perform their job properly. Kambu is especially very good for women. But, one should eat only when hungry.”

Dr. Sekar says one has to walk 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy.

“If it is less than 2,000 steps, then you are leading a sedentary lifestyle. Download a pacer app and walker log on your smart phones and keep track. Along with walks, do stretches, and breathing exercises …the whole body needs exercise to improve blood circulation and to stay fresh all day.”

Colours of unpolished millets

Varagu is dark brown

Thinai is dark yellow

Saamai and kudiravaali are light grey

Panivaragu is creamy yellow

Kambu has a greenish tinge.

Naatu kambu is said to have a cooling effect

Quick tips

Substitute white rice with millets

Drink plenty of water during the day

Eat whole fruits

Snack on nuts, not on biscuits or bakery items


Varagu Biryani


Varagu 250 gm

Chopped onion 150 gm

Chopped tomatoes 100 gm

Ginger-garlic paste 50 gm

Beans 50 gm (cut into

1 inch pieces)

Fresh green peas 50 gm

Knol-khol- 50 gm (cut in to cubes)

Green chillies 2

Oil 3 tsp

Masala powder (Cinnamon, Cloves, Caradamom, Saunf, Bay leaf) 1 tsp

Mint & Curry leaves as required

Salt to taste

For Seasoning:

Cinnamon 5 gm

Cloves 5 gm,

Cardamom 2 no,

Saunf 1tsp,

Bay leaves 2

Method: Heat oil in a pan. Add cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, saunf, and cardamom. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté till raw flavour goes. Add chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, green chillies, and sauté till golden brown. Add peas, beans knol-khol, mint leaves, powdered masala and cook. Add 500 ml water and salt to taste. Finally add varagu and cook in pressure cooker on slow flame for two whistles

Follow the same recipe and replace varagu with thinai for thinai biriyani

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 6:37:04 PM |

Next Story