Millet dishes dominate G20 Summit dinner menu, here are benefits of the superfood
The G20 Summit dinner hosted by Prez Droupadi Murmu involved 3 courses of veg food with varied millets. Here are health benefits of 6 different millet varieties
President of India, Droupadi Murmu, hosted the official G20 gala dinner in Delhi on Saturday at Bharat Mandapam where the world leaders including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other delegates were served meals in silver and gold-plated utensils while the three courses of vegetarian food menu with different kinds of millet celebrated an “autumn season of abundance”.
The beverage menu included Kashmiri kahwa, Darjeeling tea and South India's famous filter coffee while the side breads included Mumbai's famous "Pao" or soft buns plus Bakarkhani from the Mughlai cuisine but the main course saw millet grains being the hero with oxtail millet leaf crisps topped with yoghurt and spiced chutney, Kerala red rice tossed with millet crisp and curry leaf, a cardamom scented barnyard millet pudding with fig and peach compote and a jackfruit pastry served with glazed forest mushrooms.
With the UN declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, even remote millet farming communities across India have joined this Millet Movement where farmers are now expanding from just Ragi (Finger millet), to Barnyard, Little millet, Foxtail, Proso and Kodo.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Mini Sreenivasan, Founder and CEO of Annam Flour and Batter Solutions, shared, “Ragi or finger millet is one of the most nutritious cereals and has the most calcium and potassium of all cereals and millets. The seeds are inexpensive, don't require much fertilizer or water, and aren’t affected much by pests. This variety can be grown almost anywhere, even in hilly areas, amongst other crops. The primary benefit is that millet stores well giving it a long shelf life.”
Mini Sreenivasan revealed, “Barnyard millet is a hardy crop, not perceptible to stresses of climate or pests. It has greater nitrogen-use efficiency over other cereal crops and can even be used to reverse soil contamination. This variety is similar in taste to broken rice and has high levels of protein, calcium, iron, minerals, and vitamin B complex. It is also low in carbohydrates and gluten-free, making it very beneficial for those with type II diabetes and heart issues.”
Little millet is a versatile millet that is used not only as a nutritious food but also as animal feed and bioenergy. Mini Sreenivasan highlighted, “It is a climate-resilient crop that is adaptive to most environments, less susceptible to pests and diseases, and less resource intensive. It has a great nutrient profile, rich in magnesium for heart health, and other micronutrients like calcium, zinc and protein.”
Foxtail millet is one of the world's first cultivated crops, dating back some 4000 years. “It is a dry season crop and is primarily grown in arid and semi-arid regions. Its short crop cycle and high nutritional profile make it a great crop for food security. It has a lot of micronutrients and a notably high amount of vitamin B1 which can reduce the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,” said Mini Sreenivasan.
Proso millet is a heat and drought-resilient crop with a cycle of 60-100 days and according to Mini Sreenivasan, “It works very well for wheat-based rotation, as it improves wheat productivity by controlling weeds and is pest resistant. Proso millet is full of micronutrients and essential amino acids, which help with heart health and regulate insulin levels amongst other health benefits. Proso is also grown as livestock feed due to its nutrient value, and as biofuel as it can be used to make ethanol.”
She gushed, “Kodo millet is a hardy crop with variations that are both drought resistant for drier climates with rocky soil, and that grows in wetter conditions, able to grow in floods and swampy land. Kodo can also be grown in low-nutrient soil and without irrigation. Kodo is known as a better alternative to rice, as it is full of antioxidants, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, and has anti-allergic properties.”