How to cook millets - An easy primer
Posted by PRAVEEN RAO
Before we dive right in to how to cook millets, let's give a taster on what exactly is a millet and what kind of prep work is needed to cook millets.
What are millets?
Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food. Millets are normally round in shape and cereal grain that belongs to the grass family Poaceae. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millet)
Unlike wheat, these are gluten-free, rich in protein, fibre and antioxidants. Since they can grow efficiently with less water, even in hot temperatures they are grown extensively in Asian and African countries.
There are many varieties of millet. Some of them are Browntop millet, Proso millet, Kodo millet, Pearl millet, Finger millet, etc.
Should I soak millets before cooking?
Soaking millets is optional and is dependent on your personal style, really. We recommend soaking them as that might give certain benefits like:
- Soaking makes it easier to digest, and all nutrients will become bioavailable.
- Soaking gives the millet porridge a creamy texture. Since millets have a hard outer cover, and you can feel that in the texture after cooking. So for a creamy porridge, soaking works better.
- Soaking will also give you fluffiness of the millet. If you want to use cooked millet for a bulgur-style salad or even making a pulao, fluffiness in texture will work really well.
Voila, we give you two easy ways of cooking millets using a pan and the trusty pressure cooker. Both these methods cook perfect millet in under 30 minutes.
Prep the millets
Usually, millets bought from brands will be clean. If it's not, clean the millet and remove any dirt or debris from it just like how you would with rice.
Wash the millet a couple of times with clean water. If you are not soaking them, rub it with your hands to remove the dirt fully. Finally, drain the water entirely from the vessel/ bowl and keep the millets aside.
Soak the millets
As said earlier, soaking millets is optional. If you are soaking for more time, do it in the refrigerator as millets can start fermenting.
After soaking, rinse the soaked millet 2 to 3 times and completely drain the water from them. Using a sieve/ colander while doing this will get your job done twice as faster since the grains are tiny.
Cooking millets in a pan
Heat a thick-bottomed cooking pot or pan. Add the drained millet, water to the cooking pot, and close it partially with the lid.
- For soaked millet, use 1.5 cups water for every 1 cup of millet. For unsoaked millet, the millet to water ratio is 1:2 (For every 1 cup millet, use 2 cups of water).
- Increase the heat to high and let the water come to a boil. This might take 5-7 minutes. Once it reaches a boiling stage, reduce the flame to low and close the lid completely.
- Let the millet cook inside until all the water is absorbed. This might take around 6-8 minutes for pre-soaked millets and 11-14 minutes for unsoaked millets.
- The millets will be cooked by the time all water is soaked up. Switch off the flame and let it sit for 5-8 more minutes. Once this is done, fluff it up with a fork and get ready yo use the cooked millets.
- Add your favourite millet, water, and teaspoon of oil to the pressure cooker.
- Close the lid and let it cook for 1 to 2 whistles on medium-high flame for pre-soaked millet. It will take around 5 minutes.
- For unsoaked millet, cook it for 2-3 whistles, about 7 to 8 minutes.
- Once this is done, switch off the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
- After the pressure is released completely, remove the lid fluff it up with a fork.
- Soaking the millets will yield fluffy millet. To save time, soak it in hot water for at least an hour or more.
- Add a teaspoon of oil along with water while cooking the millets.
- Don't stir the millets too much because stirring will break the grains and make them lumpy.
- Once you switch off the flame, keep the millets aside for 5-10 minutes. That remaining steam will cook the millets fully.
- Fluff up the millets with a fork after 10 minutes of cooking and let it cool down before using it. Cooled millets will be more fluffy.
- Want to make more your millets more flavorful? Instead of water, use vegetable or chicken broth for cooking the millets.
- Be generous with bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon to flavor the millets.
- Use coconut milk instead of water to cook the millets and make it really creamy.
- Experiment with different types of oils like coconut, sesame or anything that floats your boat!
Use plain millets as a substitute for rice and enjoy it with dal or that delicious curry you have made.
That's all for now, folks!