Foxtail Millet is clearly my best food discovery of 2013 so far. I've eaten it in place of rice, added it to salads, made tiffin items like upma, tomato 'baath' and it has never disappointed me. The best thing with this grain is that by controlling the extent of the cooking, you can get it mushier (to eat with the accompaniments you would eat rice with) or al dente enough with each grain separate (for salads). By cooking it to a mushier texture, you can also make these superbly textured and flavorsome patties. They don't have much of a taste by themselves so you'll have to add strongly flavoured ingredients to make these delicious patties - which is why I've chosen basil, garlic, onions and cheese. But go ahead and try your own flavour combinations.
A few nutritional pointers about Foxtail Millets
It's naturally gluten free, so those who cannot eat wheat and wheat based products and don't want to eat rice for all your meals, this is a very nutritious alternative to providing the necessary carbohydrates in whole grain form.
It contains twice the iron of wholewheat and very rich in magnesium. Magnesium is known to reduce migraine attacks, reduces severity of asthma and keeps blood pressure under control.*
It also contains a good amount of silicon. "It contains 4 times the amount of silicon in whole wheat (160mg/100g) which is required for hair growth, blood circulation, protection from mental fatigue, arthritis and infection.*
[*Source: Laugh With Health: Your Complete Guide to Health, Diet, Nutrition & Natural Foods, Manfred Urs Koch]
The high fiber and protein content make sure that you stay full for a long time after eating millets.
This grain is extremely diabetic friendly, so if you are cooking for diabetics in your family, make sure you stock up on this grain at home. I will go ahead and say that is the best alternative to quinoa available in India, locally grown and wont cost you an arm and leg and a huge carbon footprint that it takes to import the grain from the other end of the world.
Do read my story Superfoods in your Backyard published in Mint this week!
Recipe for Foxtail Millet & Basil Patties
3/4 cup foxtail millets
1/2 cup roughly chopped basil
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup coarsely grated cheddar or any other hard cheese
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper (or more as per taste)
1 tsp salt
2 green chillies, finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil or any other cooking oil
- Rinse the millets in water, place it in a container that will fit in the pressure cooker and add 1 3/4 cup of water to it. Pressure cook for 2 whistles and on sim for 5-7 minutes. Once the cooker is cool enough to open, remove the millets, mash with a spoon and keep aside.
- To the mashed millets, add all other ingredients and mix well with fingertips.
- If you want to make this gluten free, omit breadcrumbs and use 2 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed instead.
- Divide this into 6-8 balls and flatten on your palm to make patties as shown in the photos and keep in one layer on a plate.
- At this stage you could cover the plate with cling film and refrigerate for few hours until you need to make them.
- Grease a non stick tava, once moderately hot, place the patties in one layer. Once the bottom side turns golden brown, turn to the other side and cook for another 5 minutes until crisp and golden.
- Serve immediately with ketchup, chutney or marinara sauce.
- Omit the chillies if you are sharing this with young kids :)