Millets – The new fad of the health conscious people
Millets have been a regular staple of Indians since ancient times. However, they slowly lost their sheen in the last 200 years or so with the arrival of processed food – ready-to-eat/ easy-to-cook/ not-so-healthy/ quick-to-bite kind. The superbly polished, visually appealing, pre-processed food whose taste has been enhanced through synthetic flavors, has become a disaster for health.
Consuming this kind of unhealthy/ low nutritious food has brought the immunity of people around the world steadily down. The consequence of which is, people are more prone to infections and diseases now than ever.
Nevertheless, man has understood this limitation, and is seen shrugging off consuming modern/ junk-worthy food. Atleast those who want to live healthy, have started eating food cooked in the good old ways, that retains the naturally available flavors and nutrients. In fact, organic food is gaining ground in Metros and Tier 1 & 2 cities.
Millet – The Super Food
Nature packs all kinds of nutrients in the veggies/ fruits/ grains/ cereals/ spices/ milk etc. that are offered to living beings. Among them millets have been the “king of kings” when it comes to nutrient richness.
Millets contain incredibly rich nutrients, which help in preventing and curing several ailments.
The nutrients include B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and are rich sources of fiber. Since millets are gluten-free and have a low-GI (Glycemic index), it makes them suitable for people with allergies to, and intolerance for wheat.
Diabetes patients can depend on millets to keep their blood/ urine/ sugar-level normal. As millets don’t add to the calories and are easily digestible, they can be consumed for losing weight as well.
Since they have 3 to 5 times more nutrients than rice and wheat, they are called “superfoods”.
There are 10 types of millets grown in India, and apparently she is the largest producer of the same. Various types of millets are listed below for knowledge.
Type of Millets
- Sorghum Millet
- Finger Millet
- Foxtail Millet
- Pearl Millet
- Barnyard Millet
- Proso/Broomcorn Millet
- Little Millet
- Amaranth Millet
- Buckwheat Millet
- Kodu Millet
These nutrient-packed grains, which gradually faded away into history, are heading back to Indian kitchens as people started adopting healthier lifestyles.
This is more pronounced in big urban centers – Metros & Tier 1/ 2 cities. Looking at the potential these grains have in transforming society, there is an urgent need to make millet-based food products visually appealing, delicious in consumption while retaining all the naturally occurring nutrients. In short, make it more acceptable to the people. This is important because, the more millets are consumed, the healthier the society will be.
It can only happen when the millet food products are made affordable and delicious to the people. This is a real challenge only advanced food institutes like CFTRI with decades of experience in food technology can address.
CFTRI and its pioneering work on Millets
CFTRI based out of Mysuru has done path-breaking work on millets, making it palatable to the public. The technologists at the institute were able to come up with new ways of making quick-to-eat food, which the trendy/ health conscious people can eat on-the-go.
Following is the list of variety of food items prepared out of millets
- Multigrain sweet mix
- Millet cookies
- Millet muffins
- Bread made out of Ragi and Bajra
- Ragi rusk and Ragi Papad
- Instant germinated ragi beverage mix
- Multi grain pasta
- Millet Upma
- Millet Halwa
- Instant millet beverage mix
- Millet flakes
- Millet semolina/ porridge
- Nutritious Millet flour to make Chapatis/ Rotis
- Ragi murruku mix
- Ragi mudde mix
- Flaked Jowar Ready-to-eat (RTE) biscuits
Apart from these products, CFTRI has worked on designing/ building equipment which can be used to treat harvested millets. A few from the list are given below
- Millet milling and separator
- Millet milling and dehusking equipment
- Pedal operated milled dehuller
- Millet milling aspirator
The constant effort of CFTRI has not gone to waste. If Millets are popular among people who want to be “healthy and fit”, the credit should go to this institute.
Centre of Excellence (CoE) on Millets
In order to make millet food-items palatable to the people from all-walks-of-life, CFTRI proposes to establish CoE to carry out focused R&D on millet grains. The work at CoE will elongate the list of millet based food-items, which will satiate people from all regions, especially Defense personnel (DP). The DP at the front demands nutrition on the go to address various challenges, and millet grain based food should give that.
Recently CFTRI has released a tender inviting companies on contract to build CoE at their Mysuru campus.
To make the wide-variety of millet products reach people across India and world, CFTRI needs private help. What better way to do it other than through startups? Indian youth are generally restless to make it big in life. They are very enterprising and raring to go. If a few such youngsters are encouraged to have their startups incubated at CFTRI, it can give a big boost to the Indian food startup ecosystem.
The proposed incubation center at CFTRI campus would handhold and guide these youngsters till their startup business gets strong footing. Once that’s achieved, they can be on their own.
CFTRI’s tender included private parties to submit quotations for building the incubation center.