Madua/Ragi – Finger Millet

The humble Finger Millet is grown across the Himalaya, it is popular in Uttarakhand and its flour is used in daily cooking as well as on special occasions to make savouries. It is principally grown in the sub-mountainous districts. Known as Ragi in Himachal Pradesh, it is mainly grown in Kullu, Mandi, Kangra and Sirmour districts of the state.

Grown on terraced farms by chemical-free farming practices, Madua, as it is locally known in Uttarakhand, is also a superfood. Finger Millet is a rich source of minerals and protein and helps control diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Krai-Truh is the common name for Finger Millet in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.

There are two types of Finger Millet generally grown – black grained, and white grained. The white grained type is preferred to the black grained variety when it is to be utilised for human consumption. Baadi, a dish of Uttarakhand, is made out of Finger Millet flour. Baadi is best eaten with Gahat Ki Dal or Phaanu. Zan, also prepared using finger millet flour, is the most popular porridge recipe of the Monpa tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

Shol – Foxtail Millet

Foxtail millet (locally called Shol or Kangni) were cultivated throughout Kashmir till several decades ago, and are now grown in a few select areas. Foxtail Millet is more commonly grown and is sown as a substitute for paddy, when it is apparent from snowless mountain peaks that water availability will not be adequate for the cultivation of the latter.

In Himachal Pradesh, it is largely grown using chemical-free farming in Kangra and has a wider range as regards to its growing season than other millets. The crop is often sown on naturally manured lands near the villages in hill valleys in May-June.

Foxtail Millet can be eaten just like rice or quinoa with curries, vegetables, or lentil dishes such as dal. They can also be added to soups and salads. It is used in making Khichdi and Ladoos. In Foxtail Millets, fibre is present on the outside as well as inside, enveloped between the layers of carbohydrates. Hence, soaking them for five to six hours before cooking is necessary.

Bajra – Pearl Millet

Bajra refers to the edible seeds of the Pearl Millet plant. The appearance varies from shades of white, yellow, grey, brown, and bluish-purple. Pearl Millet is probably the most drought- and heat-tolerant of all cereals, being associated with cultivation in high temperatures, light soils and semi-arid growing conditions.

Pearl Millet is grown in large quantities in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, but Nagaland has a higher yield per hectare. Millets are mainly grown in the districts of Phek, Tuensang, Kiphire and some areas of Kohima. As an agrarian society, the Angami Naga tribe celebrates “Tsiinyi” or Millet Festival in August to mark the completion of the millet harvest.

Cooked millet is a good source of protein and carbohydrates and provides fibre too. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals. Overall, Pearl Millet is a nutritious carbohydrate source. The Himachal style Panchkuti Khichdi is a Pearl Millet preparation with five different kinds of lentil cooked in one pot.

Barri – Proso Millet

Proso Millet or Common Millet is a relatively short-duration or quick-season irrigated crop with low moisture requirements. Proso Millet, also known as Chena, is well-suited for many soil types and climate conditions.

Proso millet is sown in rainfed drylands. Husked grains of these crops are hard to cook and are eaten as porridge. Compared to all millets, proso is a short season crop, reaching maturity 60 to 75 days after planting. It is most frequently grown as a late seeded summer crop using traditional farming methods.

The Proso Millet has a slightly nutty flavour and makes for an easy side dish as well as a hearty breakfast with milk and honey. Barri cakes with vegetables, a baked dish, or a porridge are all delicious preparations using this healthy millet. Proso Millet contains high lecithin, which supports the neural health system. It is rich in niacin, B-complex vitamins, folic acid, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, iron, and essential amino acids (methionine and cysteine). It has a low glycaemic index and reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes.

Kodra – Kodo Millet

Kodo Millet, also known as Kodra, is grown in the Himalayan foothills. It is a highly nutritious millet and an excellent substitute to rice and wheat.

Kodo Millet is hardy, drought-resistant and grows in stony or gravelly soils which do not support other crops. It is a relatively long-duration crop, requiring five to six months to mature.

Kodo Millet has a high protein content, is low in fat, and has a significantly high fibre content. The phosphorus content in Kodo Millet is lower than any other millet and its antioxidant potential is much higher than any other millet and major cereals. Kodo Millet can be cooked in place of rice and also into a variety of dishes like idli, dosa, pongal, khichdi, other rice flour based snacks, porridge, cookies, noodles, etc.

Jhangora – Barnyard Millet

Barnyard Millet, also known as Jangora or Madira, tastes almost like broken rice when cooked, hence also called the “Sanwa Rice”. It does not cook into separate grains like long-grained rice. The millet is a tiny, white, round grain, bigger in size than semolina (rawa) and smaller than sago (sabudana).

Barnyard Millet is a wild seed and not a grain, grown in hilly areas on terrace farms. It is the fastest growing crop, and the grains can be ready for harvest within 45 days from sowing under optimal weather conditions.

Barnyard Millet is a good source of highly digestible protein. At the same time, it is least calorie-dense compared to all other cereals. The grain is light on the stomach, and makes you feel energetic after consumption. Palau is a mixture prepared with the help of boiled Jhangora (Barnyard Millet) and Mattha (buttermilk) in Uttarakhand. Jhangora ki Kheer is a delicious Pahari dessert made using Jhangora , milk, and sugar, and is deliciously garnished with kewra essence, almonds and raisins.

Jowar – Sorghum

Sorghum, locally known as Jowar, is an ancient, pro-planet protein source that’s packed with nutrients. Sorghum is truly a versatile crop that can be grown as a grain, forage or sweet crop.

It is grown across the Himalayan foothills and Purvanchal Himalaya. Sorghum is among the most efficient crops in conversion of solar energy and use of water, and is known as a high-energy, drought-tolerant, environment-friendly crop.

It is part of the staple food of the Mara tribe of Mizoram, who practise shifting cultivation – Jhum. Millets such as Sorghum form part of the local cuisine across many communities in the Himalaya, and are used to make bread, biscuits, sweets and snacks.

Kutki – Little/Small Millet

Little Millet is similar to Proso Millet, in that its crop matures quickly and withstands both drought and water-logging. It is usually sown broadcast and is often grown in August and September. Little Millet is also known as Kutki, locally, and Small Millet.

Little or Small Millets are cultivated in hilly regions, including Jhum cultivation systems. Hindus consider it to be a sacred grain and prefer it for religious offerings. On Ekadashi festival, they consume it in various ways and forms. On Lohri festival also, they start and break their fast with this sacred food.

Little Millet is a rich source of protein and carbohydrates. As this millet is smaller in size, it cooks faster than rice and other millets. Little Millet can be milled into flour for making roti or flatbread, and baked and fried items. The whole grains can be sprouted and used in salads.