International Year of Millets - 2023 : A Boon to the World
It is 2023, a new year and most importantly the year to acknowledge it as the International Year of Millets, 2023 (IYOM '23). Following the UN’s acceptance of declaring 2023 as the IYOM, and the support of 72 nations that we have garnered, India is set to lead the movement of creating awareness of prioritising millets both nationally and internationally in the days to come.
This initiative by the Government of India is indeed a big step in popularising millets to draw attention once again to the ‘Superfoods’ which are grown in over 130 countries and are the traditional food of over a billion people in Asia and Africa.
Speaking of India, the cultivation of millets is known to have preceded even the Bronze Age i.e 4,500 BC.
What are millets?
Millets are a group of small-seeded grasses grown as grain crops as coarse cereals. They are particularly grown on marginal land in dry areas of temperate, tropical and sub-tropical regions.
Locally, Bajra, Jowar and Ragi are the chief millets and are classified as Major Millets. There are Minor Millets too, and this includes, Foxtail Millets (Kangani/Kagun), Proso Millet (Cheena), Kodo Millet (Kodo), Barnyard Millet (Sawa/Sanwa/Jhangora), Little Millet (Kutki).
There is yet another category, known as Pseudo Millets that includes Buckwheat (Kuttu) and Ameranthus (Chaulai)
Why are millets important for India?
In 2023, India will lead the IYOM ‘23 celebrations worldwide by initiating campaigns to promote the awareness, cultivation and consumption of millets.
The Government of India has been targeting millets since 2018 and undertaken several initiatives to achieve this. It was in 2018 that a step towards this was first taken and the National Year for Millets was observed when millets were promoted for nutritional security.
One of the reasons behind promoting millets is that not just the consumption of millets, but even its cultivation is beneficial to the economy. Being tough crops, they require minimum inputs, can withstand adverse climatic conditions and thus creates livelihoods and are a stable source of income to the farmers. This thus ensures food and nutritional security too.
This year, the Government of India has assigned its various ministries/departments to propagate the use of millets extensively in India and overseas. The initiatives are intended to get people to increase consumption of millets and thus create demand that will induce farmers to shift to cultivating millets.
Amazing Recipes with Millets
Even as the most simple uses of millets is as bhakri (thick flatbread), porrridges or mudde, there are many more exciting recipes one can make from millets. Some such recipes are given below. The versatility of millets is indeed brought out well with these recipes:
Ragi Papdi Chaat
Chaat gets a healthy twist with this Ragi Papdi Chaat. Like the puris are made from ragi flour with a little maida for that firmness. This is a good way to get all your friends to binge on a healthy chaat. It can start with you, right?
Cabbage Jowar Muthias
Traditional starters or snacks, call it anything you like. Definitely, this is what would make for the perfect snack in a traditional thali. These steamed and lightly stir-fried muthias are a great snack.
Bajra Mooli Roti
Here’s an interesting way to combine millet flour to make a main course dish. Like this, lovely flavourful flatbread with radish and bajra flour that completes the meal plan. The spices add a dash of taste.
Bajra Atta Halwa
By default health is going to be an inseparable part of the recipes made using millets. There are two interesting aspects of this halwa too. One, it is not overly sweet. It is a bit spiced with ginger powder and powdered black pepper. The other being the addition of a little rice too. This makes the halwa an interesting mix of flavours and textures. Enjoy!
This is not all. There are fusion recipes too.
Jowar Pumpkin Gnocchi
A very Indian adaptation of the gnocchi, Italian dumplings with jowar flour. The Jowar Pumpkin Gnocchi will take everyone with surprise. Made with pumpkin and sweet potato, the gnocchi will be a tad sweeter also due to the pumpkin sauce it is then tossed in with a dash of fieriness of course. Basil and mixed herbs complete the Italian taste.
Ragi Jaggery Cookies
How to not compromise on your cookies? The way is to make cookies with millet flour. Made on the lines of chocolate cookies, the Ragi Jaggery cookies score big on health quotient because of the jaggery too. Yes, you can pamper yourself too by adding choco chips. Great way to have guilt-free cookies right?
So, let us take this opportunity to show to the world how nutritious and versatile millets are. We are indeed proud to be able to share the benefits of this Superfood with amazing recipes and urge everyone to take a conscious effort to consume more of this indigenous grain.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.