Now, humble, healthy millets giving exotic dishes a new twist

Now, humble, healthy millets giving exotic dishes a new twist
Soon, you can relish an Italian delicacy with an Indian twist. Pasta that is conventionally made with plain flour, will now be made available with millets as the main ingredie­nt.

At the four-day 13th Agricultural Congress, a good number of stalls selling varieties of millets and an array of millet-based products were set up.

Pasta is among the other ready-to-cook millet products available. From ragi spaghetti to shell pasta made of foxtail millet, a variety of innovative products were made available.

Among the other products made with millets were biscuits, a protein health mix, dosa and idli batter, puliyogare mix and vermicelli. Most of these products were only on display at the stalls and not for sale, leaving visitors disappointed.

Satish Kumar, senior research fellow, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, said the grain is gaining prominence as several families have begun replacing rice with it. From March, the university will also begin to train farmers on preparation of millet products.  Dr Chandrakala, assistant professor, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Chamarajnagar said farmers across Chitradurga, Tumakuru, Kollegal, parts of north Karnataka and Ramanagaram district have shown interest in cultivating the crop.

However, the need for a separate processing unit for millets is a deterrent for production. “Millets, except ragi, have a hard husk. These need specially designed mills,” she said.

A team headed by Dayakara Rao from the Indian Institute of Millets Research also had a stall at the university.

Lakshmi Balaganoormath, senior research fellow told DH that ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook foods are fast gaining popularity. “We have tied up with a leading biscuit manufacturer and a retail chain now,” she said.

Balaganoormath said that with diabetes and obesity cases on the rise, many families are including millets in their diet in good proportion. However, the production has to be increased to meet the demand.
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