These whole grain millet recipes are nutritious and delicious. A popular whole grain in ancient civilizations, today we can learn to appreciate millet anew for its fabulous flavor and nutrition.
Whole Grain Millet in Meals
Sunshine Millet Porridge With Apricots and Carrots Recipe
Whole Grain Millet Recipes
Imagine you’ve just ordered your favorite dish at a Chinese restaurant. When your stir-fry arrives, it is served over a steaming, fragrant yellow grain, with no rice or noodles in sight. If rice and wheat hadn’t conquered the world, all of us would probably still be eating this tiny, tasty grain.
In fact, several lesser-known grains played important roles in ancient civilizations, in part because they were hardy, fast-growing, needed little water or care, and were incredibly nutritious.
Millet, the tiny yellow grain we usually reserve for birdseed, was once the primary grain of northern China. Recent research found evidence of its cultivation in China’s Yellow River Basin in 6,000 B.C. and suggests that several thousand years of substantial political and scientific development was made possible by its cultivation. Millet also was cultivated all over northern Europe, west Africa and India, and is still part of the healthy diet of the Hunza tribe, whose members live famously long lives in the Himalayas.
There are thousands of varieties of millet, though only a few in North America (unless you count crabgrass, a wild relative). Millet’s extra bonus, which was discovered by the Romans, is that it can be stored for several years if left in the seed cone.
Today, we revisit the golden grain and appreciate it anew for its mild, nutty flavor (when toasted, it tastes like cashews), adaptable texture (can be creamy or fluffy, like rice, and heartily absorbs flavorful liquids). It’s also highly nutritious: The quick-cooking little seeds are 15 percent protein, and notably alkaline, making them very digestible. A serving also delivers a good bit of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, especially tryptophan, which helps regulate appetite, sleep and mood.
Most health food stores and grocery stores that stock bulk foods offer millet flour and hulled millet for eating. If you want to grow it, know that millet garden seeds are encased in a tough hull. The hulled millet you can buy for eating is almost always the proso variety (Panicum miliaceum), which has the largest seeds and is easily threshed. Proso and foxtail (Setaria macrocheata) millet are the oldest known varieties. Pearl and finger type millets can be grown by home gardeners and threshed, or hulled, by hand — if you want an adventure. (Millet is threshed by beating the heads with sticks until the grains come loose.)
You’ll find unhulled millet seeds to grow through our Plant and Seed Finder (you can search for common or Latin names), where you can search the websites of more than 500 seed companies for culinary varieties of millet.
Try the millet recipes at the top of this article.
Highly Recommended by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors:
The New Whole Grains Cookbook: Terrific Recipes Using Farro, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Barley, and Many Other Delicious and Nutritious Grains by Robin Asbell (Chronicle, 2007). The millet recipes reprinted here only hint at the wide world of flavors and textures that awaits you when you begin incorporating nutritious whole grains into your diet. Order now.
Robin Asbell is the author of The New Whole Grains Cookbook: Terrific Recipes Using Farro, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Barley, and Many Other Delicious and Nutritious Grains (Chronicle, 2007).