Millets are a general agronomic and culinary group of small-seeded cereal grains, widely grown around the world for food and fodder. The group includes various sub-types.
Commonly-cultivated varieties Edit
- Pearl millet (P. glaucum/C. americanus): one of the most widely-grown varieties; largely produced in Africa and South Asia.
- Finger millet (E. coracana): Mainly cultivated in East/South Africa and somewhat in South Asia.
- Foxtail millet (S. italica): Widely cultivated in East Asia, as well as somewhat in South Asia.
- Proso millet (P. miliaceum): Mainly cultivated across Asia, Europe, and the United States.
- Little millet (P. sumatrense): Grown in East and South Asia.
Additional varieties Edit
- Kodo millet
- Barnyard millet
- Guinea millet
- Browntop millet
- Adlay millet
Most millets produce very small grains after hulling. Many varieties of millet are drought and pest-resistant, and they are suitable for cultivation in harsh environments.
The protein content in millet is very close to that of wheat; both provide about 11% protein by weight. Millets tend to have high amounts of dietary fiber, and they are rich in B vitamins, especially niacin, B17, B6 and folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Millets are also a mild thyroid peroxidase inhibitor and probably should not be consumed in great quantities by those with thyroid disease.
Millets are principally food sources in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. It was millet, rather than rice, that formed important parts of prehistoric diet in Chinese Neolithic and Korean Mumun societies. The hulled grains can be cooked whole or ground to a flour.
Millets are traditionally important grains used in brewing millet beer, for instance by the Tao people of Orchid Island and various peoples in East Africa. It is used to prepare a fermented drink called boza in Balkan peninsula countries. Is is the base ingredient for rakshi, a distilled liquor from Nepal.
Millets contain no gluten, so they are not typically suitable for raised bread. They can, however, be used in gluten-free cooking and baking for those who cannot consume gluten. In Western India, millet flour (called bajari or marathi) and sorghum flour have been used for hundreds of years to make a local staple flatbread called rotla.
Other uses Edit
Millet porridge is a traditional Russian food, eaten sweet or savoury with meat or vegetable stews. It can be cooked to a porridge or steamed/boiled much like rice and/or quinoa. Millet can replace buckwheat, rice, and quinoa in some recipes.
Harvested millet grains must be hulled and cooked prior to consumption. A simple cooked millet dish can be made by toasting millet in a pan, adding 5 volumes of boiling water per 2 volumes of millet, and simmering for 30-35 minutes.