Get on a diet coarse

By Savvy Soumya Misra
Published: Sunday 15 June 2008

Get on a diet coarse

Is rising food price making you shrink your dinner spread? Don't. Why not try your hand at some millet recipes? That may not only bring down your food budget, but also enhance the nutritional value of your meals. But there is a small catch. You will have to visit the weekly village haat to buy millets. Not all millets are easily available in grocery stores, and those available will cost you between Rs 25 and Rs 40 a kg. Poor cousins of wheat and rice, millets are now the new exotics in urban culinary culture. At village haats you will get them at throwaway prices of Rs 7 to Rs 10.

The tribal communities of central India, especially Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, could cushion themselves against the soaring food prices thanks to millets and other coarse grains."If it is promoted well in cities, it is not just a cheaper alternative but also a healthy one," says Rajnish Awasthi, director, Agricon Agropreneurs Public Limited, a farmers' company in Chhattisgarh that encourages farmers to grow millets and sell them in cities.

Millets, like kodo and kutki, are high on fibre and low on calorie. They can be a good choice for diabetes patients

Many are familiar with bajra, the most common millet, but there are many others you may not have tasted--like finger millet or ragi, little millet or kutki, pearl millet and kodo millet. Kodo (Paspalum scrobiculatum) is not only drought resistant but also grows on poor soil. It can be stored for 20 years without being spoilt by pests. Tribal communities eat kodo millet when the paddy crop fails. Corn too forms a crucial part of Chhattisgarh tribals' diet.

Cooked just like rice, kodo can be a substitute for rice. Its fibre content is five times that of rice and calorie content, lower. Mixed with wheat kodo is a good diet for diabetes patients. Protein-rich kutki (Panicum sumatrense) too is a good grain substitute for diabetics. It has 20 per cent less carbohydrate than rice and wheat.

Down to Earth

Down to Earth Ragi pudding

Roast ragi flour till it turns golden brown. Add a litre of milk to 200 g of roasted ragi. Simmer on low flame till the kheer becomes as thick as you prefer. Stir it well to avoid lumps being formed. Once thick enough, add sugar and finely chopped dry fruits. Take it off the flame and let it cool. Granish with cardamom powder and grated dry fruits.

Nutritional Value The calorific value of ragi is similar to that of rice and wheat, but its calcium content is 10 times that of rice or wheat. Ragi powder mixed with wheat could compensate for the low calcium content in wheat.

Down to Earth corn soup

Take 100 g of coarsely ground corn and add 150 ml of water. Mix them well to avoid forming lumps and slowly cook on a medium flame till it becomes thick. Add cut vegetables, like beans, carrots, cabbage, mushroom, ginger and peas, and boil for some more time. When the vegetables become soft the soup is ready. Squeeze half a lemon and garnish with coriander.

Traditionally, the tribal communities in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, boil corn with water for hours till it becomes a thick paste. This paste, called pasiya, is good for summers and the tribals have it several times in a day.

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