Get children used to millets early; it will help them in their adult lives as well!
Some simple steps to get better nutrient bang from the millet buck!
- Use the grain more than the fl our
- Sprout the millets before grinding while making dosa
- Ferment and then steam cook like in idly
- Sprout millets to add to salads
- Boil/pressure cook millets – khichdi, pongal, porridge
Tips to make millets palatable to children
- Instead of announcing the inclusion of millets as a ‘health initiative’, add them to your regular meals without making a fuss.
- To start with, mix a small proportion of millet fl our in dosa batter or paratha dough. Slowly increase the content of millets.
- Introduce millets in treats – laddoos, cookies, cakes, biscuits. Pop sorghum to make a healthy snack.
- Try pooris with a combination of bajra and wheat fl our. Combine millets with your child’s favourite ingredients – jowar fl our with spring onions, ragi fl our with potatoes – to make parathas. Some stores that stock organic and health foods sell jowar, bajra, ragi fl akes – mix with milk, honey, nuts and raisins for a healthy breakfast.
- Roast and grind millets to fl ours and make a healthy porridge with milk, nuts and raisins for young children.
- Begin the journey to whole millets with semi-polished rice, move on to brown rice and fi nally switch to millets for some meals.
- Encourage children to try millets instead of rice for one course in a meal – for example, with curds. Make fried rice with little millet – sure to be a hit!
- Some restaurants serve/sell millet parathas/rotis – try these so you can expose your family to a good dish presented well!
How to get started with millets?
Millets are not difficult to cook, what is required though is a change in mindset. “It seems daunting at first,” says Viji Srinivasan from Chennai who has recently started using millets in day-to-day recipes, “but once you start doing it you realise it is not very different from cooking rice. I regularly make pongal, idlis, with millets. Initially I was making it for myself as I am a diabetic, but now my whole family eats it as they like the taste!” Most millets need to be pressure cooked and may require some tweaks such as pre-soaking, warm water and some oil to make a dough, and adjustments in the millet-to-water ratio.