Ayurveda on your plate: Cook up a perfectly healthy meal with millets – II

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We continue to provide you tips on eating a healthy Ayurvedic diet. This week we incorporate the magic of millets to rustle up a tasty, satisfying lunch. Start cooking right with Mumbai Mom’s guide to an Ayurvedic diet under the guidance of Writer and Ayurveg’s ‘Chief Eating Officer’ Nitin Sawant.

Last week we looked at how a bit of planning can help you switch over to a completely healthy Ayurvedic diet. We cooked a sumptuous dhokla for breakfast, though you don’t need to stop at just dhoklas. Just extend the same principles of cooking to your other routine breakfast items and you’ll create an array of dishes that are tasty, fulfilling and with absolutely no bad side-effects.

Traditional breakfast gets a healthy twist

For example, how about an Upma made with Fat Broken Wheat (Mota Dalia)? Yes, everything in your recipe remains the same, except that you switch the tomatoes with carrots, and you drop the green chillies and go with some long pepper. Now, tune in to any good chef or ask your grandma, and they’ll always tell you that long pepper is the queen of all spices. And just in case if your friendly neighbourhood grocer doesn’t stock it, walk into the nearest Ayurvedic store and ask for some peepar or else, piprimool powder. Yes, this Queen of spices packs some king-size health benefits, other than adding to the taste of the dish.

So, upma’s done; now how about some idlis? Why not? Except that I’ll recommend making them in single-polish rice or red rice. And if you don’t have a steady supply of these ingredients, why not substitute them with millets? I may have to add here that for some reason millets have become the flavour of the season nowadays. You’ll see every nutritionist worth her salt, tom-tomming the millet buzzword, with all sorts of unheard millet names and even weirder combos thrown in.

Yeah, like it or not, millets have now become the new wine!

The so-called poor man’s food has gone hip, though a lot of our urban elites barely know what to do with them. A good friend recently tweeted his exasperation about millets. He was recommended foxtail millet for his diabetes condition, but he’s barely aware of the nitty-gritties of working with this grain.

Now, truth be told, millets are somewhat mystical for someone who’s accustomed to the mass-market’s evil trinity of rice, wheat and corn. Millets are a hardy crop; they tend to grow quickly, use little water and fertilizer, and hence vary in characteristics from one terrain to another. Yeah, just like wine… Also, as compared to rice, they tend to use almost twice the amount of water while cooking. And yes, you feel satiated early if you’re eating millets instead of rice. What this really means is that you’re satisfied and full, though you’ve eaten lot lesser than your normal load.

Compared to polished rice, millets release lesser percentage of glucose and that too over a longer period of time, lowering the risk of diabetes.

Millets are highly nutritious, non-glutinous and not acid forming foods. Hence they’re considered to be the least allergenic and most easily-digestible grains available. Compared to polished rice, millets release lesser percentage of glucose and that too over a longer period of time, lowering the risk of diabetes. Millets are particularly high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.  And, if you’re a budding athlete or maybe you’re just looking to lose weight with those intense gym nights, you’ll need carbs as a source of energy.  Mind you, millets are the only source of carbs which does not have any starch in it and they release energy slowly, allowing for improved stamina during long periods of intense activity.

Millets, the magic food

Okay, so now that you’re sold on millets, let’s look at ways and means to consume them. Here, truth be told again, I must say that millets are a somewhat acquired taste. We’ve have been eating them for over 15,000 years but have lost absolute contact with them for past 30-40 years. A whole generation has grown up on fast-food and we’ll need to rediscover our connection with the millets. So better start with Jowar and Ragi, and work your way ahead.

You’ll need rotis and parathas in your lunchbox and jowar’s the best bet for this season with its cooling properties. Jowar rotis are fairly easy to make, except that you’ll need to add hot water to roll the dough. That’ll make it sticky enough, in the absence of gluten. You can always go for a multi-grain atta for easier rolling.

Ragi Parathas: Yummy Protein

For a change, you might want a stuffed paratha in your tiffin box. So let’s put Ragi (also called Nachni) to some good use here. Ragi flour will have some binding issues, so for stuffing we use sweet potatoes. Make the dough with two cups of ragi flour, three boiled and mashed sweet potatoes, a couple of pinches of powdered black pepper along with clove and long pepper, salt and chopped coriander leaves. Roll out your parathas with a hint of sesame oil. And if you don’t like sweet notes in your lunch, go for a yam filling by first boiling the yams and stir-frying them with pepper, ginger and garlic. Just so you know, ragi’s amazingly high calcium content (at a whopping 344mg per 100g) makes its protein as complete as a milk protein.

Of course with the summer in full cry, you might be craving a soothing cool drink and trust me, there’s nothing better than Ragi buttermilk to keep the heat away. Those staying in South India might be familiar with the porridges available on the streets nowadays – the ‘Kamman koozh‘ (jowar porridge) and ‘kezhvaragu koozh‘ (ragi porridge) that are believed to keep the body cool.

Well, you can make something similar here by simply adding a couple of spoons of Ragi flour to a cup of simmering water. Wait till the mixture thickens and add a cup of buttermilk. Mix it well, pack it in a bottle and you have the perfectly invigorating noon drink to tackle this sapping heat and humidity. And yes, it takes less than 2 minutes to whip this up.

Of course, you’ll need veggies and more to go with your rotis, so do come and visit us again next week same time and see what’s cooking for dinner.

(Pic Source)

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