Millet, known as the Queen of Grains, is popular in many parts of the world with 10,000 years of cultivation history. It is a highly nutritious, non-glutinous and versatile grain. Considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains, it has an interesting nut-like flavour and a texture that is easily combined with quinoa, brown or basmati rice. It is particularly beneficial for those who are sensitive to gluten and is used as an alternate form of grain.
A single cup of millet provides around 24% of the body’s daily phosphorus content. The key of its high phosphorus content is that it assists in the formation of the mineral matrix of the bone and is also an essential component of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the energy currency of the body. As well as being nearly 15% protein, it contains an enormous amount of nutrients, such as B-complex vitamins including niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, the essential amino acid methionine, lecithin, and some vitamin E. It is particularly high in minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
When used in healing, its cooling thermal nature and sweet and salty flavour strengthens the kidneys and balances the stomach and spleen-pancreas. It builds yin fluids assisting with body dryness and it alkalinizes, thus helping to balance over-acid conditions. It retards bacterial growth in the mouth thus sweetening the breath. As an anti-fungal, it is one of the best grains for candida albicans overgrowth.
Regular consumption of millet is very beneficial for postmenopausal women as well as children. It has been shown to reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol, assist with breast cancer, and reduce the occurrence of wheezing and asthma. It also assists women with gallstones as it is a very high source of insoluble fiber. It reduces risk of Type 2 Diabetes mellitus due to its rich source of magnesium which acts as a co-factor in a number of enzymatic reactions in the body, regulating the secretion of glucose and insulin. Magnesium also benefits migraine attacks and atherosclerosis. It is not recommended for those with signs of a very weak digestive function such as consistently watery stools.
Serve millet as cooked cereal, in casseroles, breads, soups, stews, soufflés, pilaf, stuffing, side dishes or under sautéed vegetables, with beans. Millet can also be sprouted for use in salads or sandwiches. Store millet in a tightly closed container, preferably glass, in a cool dry place with a temperature of less than 70° or in the fridge. Stored this way, it can last up to two years.
As a flour, millet produces light, dry delicate baked goods with a crust that is thin and buttery smooth. For yeast breads, up to 30% millet flour can be used, but combine it with glutinous flours so the bread will rise. Millet seeds can be added for a crunchy experience. Millet flour deteriorates and becomes rancid very rapidly after it is ground, so grind it just before use.
Cooking Tips for the Queen of Grains:
Depending on the cooking method, millet can vary, ranging from smooth creamy textures to fluffy, as in rice. For a nuttier flavor lightly roast grains in a dry pan before cooking, stirring for about three minutes, or until you smell the nutty aroma.
If millet is presoaked, lessen the cooking time by five to 10 minutes.
Due to its alkali forming nature, cook millet with little or no salt.
Use any seasoning or herbs that are common to rice dishes.
Cook millet with three parts water or stock and one part grain, adding the grain to boiling water and simmering covered for approximately 30 minutes, or until water is completely absorbed. Remove from heat and let steam, covered for 10 minutes. A fluffier texture will result when less water is used. A very moist and dense texture results when extra water is used.
North Indian Tandori Casserole
1½ cups cooked millet
2 cups cooked organic brown rice
1 can creamed corn
1 package of firm tofu
¾ medium onion
Seasoning mix* (or use shortcut):
minced small garlic clove
dash of sea salt
pinch of ginger, paprika, ground cumin, coriander, natural herbs, spices, red chili
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp soybean oil in a measuring cup and stir until well mixed
*Seasoning shortcut: use package of North Indian “Tandori Tiiki” flavor if you do not wish to make the Seasoning mix.
Sauté tofu and onions with seasoning
Add your cooked millet and rice until all is covered with oil and seasoning mix
Layer in casserole dish and spread creamed corn on top
Bake 45 min. in 350°F oven.
Serve with plain yogurt or cottage cheese to help disperse heat of red chilies.
Pauline Wolf, CHHP, Oriental Medical practitioner, is the author of ‘The Healing Cook’, and is a Certified Provincial Instructor. She maintains a Colon Hydrotherapy practice in Campbell River and loves to share her knowledge of holistic healing.