They say birds know what's good for them!
I knew Millet (bajra – hindi) to be the main ingredient in birdseed, however I did not know that it is one of the earliest cultivated grains. Millet is widely consumed in the Indian subcontinent and used in African and Eastern European cuisine as well. Millet is one of the least allergenic, non-glutinous grains available that is also very high in protein.
As a member the so-called “pseudograins”, (quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and teff are actually seeds) millet might just be one of the most versatile of those “grains”. Millet has a nutty/earthy taste, and when it is hulled it can be used in making pulao, when pressure cooked or slow cooked one can make a Konji/Kanji/Soup, which would be great for breakfast or stirred raw into baked goods for an extra crunch, sprouted for salads, ground into flour, or popped like popcorn. Thirty five grams of bajra contains approx 4gms of protein, great for the vegan/vegetarian diet.
Better late than never, I‘ve started to consume millet regularly in my diet. I eat it pressure cooked as a substitute for rice (beware - it has a VERY chewy texture), but I like it! I also make roti’s- Indian breads with it, since others in my family are not so gung ho about it I make the rotis with equal portions of Bajra flour and whole wheat flour. I’ve found after many tries that the bread is best consumed fresh and the flavor is enhanced when eaten with raw sliced onions, blistered green chilli/salt or a powder of peanut, coconut, garlic and dry red chillies. Apparently this is how the peasants in India consume the rotis, which also go by the name Bhakri roti and thecha or lahsun chutney.
Millet flour roti
2 cups freshly milled millet flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
3-4 cups warm water
4 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Mix both the millet and wheat flours. Add salt, onions, chillies, coriander leaves and 1 tbsp of the oil and rub into the flour mixture. Make a well and pour 2-3 cups of water and knead the dough for about 3-5 minutes or until the dough forms a ball and leaves the side of the bowl. Set aside. Meanwhile heat an iron griddle.
Make lemon sized balls of the dough and roll on wooden board with a rolling pin into the size of a quarter plate (6-7 inchs). The roti should be atleast 3-4mm thick, if you roll the roti too thin it will break while cooking. Using a fork make dimpled impressions all over the roti and on both sides so that it will cook fast and evenly.
Once the griddle is hot slap the roti on and allow it to cook for 45 seconds and flip over and cook another 30 seconds. Apply a little bit of the reserved oil on each side and cook until light brown spots appear. It is important to cook the bread fast or it will become dry.
Serve warm with butter, sliced raw onion and pickle (see recipes below).
Roasted green chilli: Stick a green chilli on a skewer and roast on an open flame until it blisters. Serve it with salt. To eat, mash the chilli and salt together and apply on the roti.
(dry garlic/coconut/peanut powder)
100 gms dry roasted skinned peanuts
100 gms grated dry coconut
20-30 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Pound all ingredients together in a mortar and pestle or gently blend in a food processor until a coarse powder is formed.