The word "millet" is most often associated with bird food, because birds love to peck it so much. Although millet is the most ancient of cereals, it can be considered the first cereal crop that humans began to cultivate. The history of this plant has been known since the third millennium BC, in those distant times in China and Mongolia millet was already cultivated, eaten and treated with it.
Millet (lat. Panicum) is a genus of annual herbaceous plants of the Cereals family. In total, up to 500 species of millet grow in the world, in Russia - 8 species of this plant.
Millet is a short annual plant with cylindrical stems. Its fruit is a very small oval or round grain, most often white, yellow, or red, although other shades are also found. Common millet or sown millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) in the wild unknown. It is a spring, heat-loving, drought-resistant crop.
From the grain of millet, cereals (well known to all of us millet) and flour are obtained. Grain, husk, flour and straw are used as livestock feed.
Millet grains are very small, covered with an inedible shell that cannot be digested by the human body. From the grains, after separation of the shell, cereals are obtained - millet-shingle or polished millet, which we, as a rule, meet on the shelves of grocery stores.
In the modern world, the popularity of millet has dropped dramatically. Although millet, which grows quickly and well even on dry and poor lands, is still a real salvation for many peoples of Africa and Asia today.
Millet processing products
Millet-shingle is whole grains of millet, freed only from flower films. The groats are yellow in color with a characteristic gloss and a bitter aftertaste. When preparing dishes from such millet, to remove the bitterness, the cereals must be thoroughly rinsed several times before cooking. Millet-shingle is much more valuable and healthier than polished millet, since it contains much more nutrients and vitamins, for example, vitamin B6, serotonin, iron, magnesium, zinc, as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids. It remains only to regret that millet-shingle today can be found on sale quite rarely.
Polished millet is millet grains, freed not only from flower films, but also from seed coats and embryos. This groats are lighter in color than millet-shingles, a little rough and not shiny. Polished millet is better absorbed by the human body, cooks faster and is perfect for cereals and casseroles, but is devoid of many biologically valuable components of whole grains.
Crushed millet is a by-product of millet processing, its crushed kernels, which boil much faster. This millet is well suited for viscous cereals and meatballs.
Millet flour is used today mainly in the culinary arts of Eastern countries. Bread and various national flat cakes are baked from it even today.
Useful properties of millet
The beneficial properties of millet are due to its high nutritional value. Although, strictly speaking, not millet itself has medicinal properties, but millet, which is obtained from it. It contains a lot of protein, vitamins, macro- and microelements. A large amount of fiber contained in millet helps cleanse the intestines from various toxins and decay products. Millet also contains a significant amount of folic acid, which has a positive effect on the functioning of the nervous system. And the polyunsaturated fatty acids and potassium in millet contribute to the health of the heart and blood vessels. Millet has the ability to strengthen the immune system, normalize blood cholesterol levels, activate the process of healing damaged bone tissue and healing wounds. The high content of iron in this cereal allows millet to enrich the blood composition and raise the level of hemoglobin.
Millet is not high in calories, the raw product contains 298 kcal per 100 g, but after heat treatment this number decreases significantly. In addition, complex carbohydrates do not harm the figure, but, on the contrary, maintain a feeling of fullness for a long time, reducing appetite. And since millet is practically gluten-free, it can be safely consumed by people who suffer from protein intolerance.
The most famous and most common millet dish is millet porridge. It can be crumbly, liquid or viscous.
To make the porridge tasty, without bitterness, it is imperative to rinse the millet several times before using it. Millet has a taste that is characteristic of all cereals, but during storage or if stored improperly, the grain develops a bitterness, and in the smell - rancidity. A slight bitterness is also present in the freshest form in millet-shingles, and in fresh polished cereals, the taste is rather mild. Millet grits fried in a dry pan before being cooked give off a subtle nutty smell.
Millet porridge is often cooked in the oven or put there to languish after boiling.
There are a lot of recipes for making millet porridge. It is boiled in water, milk or even fermented milk products by itself or in combination with other ingredients. In addition to butter, pumpkin, various dried fruits, nuts, cottage cheese, mushrooms, as well as vegetables and fruits, including sea and sauerkraut, are added to millet porridge. You can try to cook millet porridge not quite usual, for example, like this: millet porridge with vegetables and cilantro "Oriental", millet porridge with prunes, spices and nuts in pots.
As a side dish, millet porridge is served with meat, poultry and liver.
Many famous dishes of oriental cuisine, cooked not in a traditional way, but with millet, for example, millet couscous with lamb - bassi sallet or dolma with fruit and two sauces, are distinguished by a very original taste.
Millet gives originality to the taste of various soups: fish soup, kharcho, kuleshu, mushroom, vegetable, chicken, meat soup. In addition, the first course with millet turns out to be more satisfying. Try: cabbage with millet, chicken soup with millet and white beans.
You can also cook salads with millet. Try making a salad "Beads" or a salad with millet, vegetables and dried fruits.
Boiled millet is used to prepare numerous casseroles, both sweet - with cottage cheese, fresh fruits or dried fruits - and meat, with poultry and various vegetables. For example, meat bread with millet, cheese and vegetables or meat millet baked under a cheese crust turns out remarkably tasty, it is worth trying this option - potato casserole with millet.
They are made from millet groats and various cutlets and meatballs. Pancakes and pancakes are prepared on millet groats with flour. Millet is used as a filling in various baked goods: baskets with millet porridge, dried apricots and raisins; kystyby with millet porridge.
Boiled millet even makes desserts, for example, unusually delicate homemade millet sweets with dried fruits.
In past centuries, in Russian cuisine, kvass was made from millet groats, rye crackers or bread crusts and other ingredients, and beer was made from millet, hops and yeast sourdough.
Millet is one of the most popular foods among vegetarians, so you can find a huge number of dishes using millet in vegetarian cuisine.
Millet, in spite of the seeming simplicity of its taste, opens up unlimited scope for culinary experiments, every chef, combining millet with other ingredients, can create a large number of hearty and very healthy new dishes for his family.