An Attempt to Remind City-zens of the Nutritious Qualities of Millets
By Express News Service | Published: 04th April 2014 10:15 AM |
For a crop that was widespread in Kerala once upon a time, the Little Millet (‘chama’ in Malayalam) has dwindled to exist only in little pockets of the state.
So much so that the organisers had to turn to Andhra Pradesh to get the cereal for the ongoing fair ‘Magic with Millets’ of Organic Bazaar.
“This millet was very popular earlier in Kerala and used to be grown in rotation with rice, but its cultivation has here has all but disappeared,” said Ushakumari S of Thanal, which is organising the event.
It is not just the little millet that visitors to the three-day Organic Mela at YMCA can be reintroduced to.
There’s the Pearl Millet (‘bajra’), Kodo Millet (‘varagu’), Proso Millet (‘panivaragu’), Foxtail Millet (‘tina’), Sorghum (‘jowar’) and Finger Millet (‘ragi’) all of which have been sidelined with the domination of rice and wheat.
“Proso millet, for example, is one of the best in terms of nutrition. The tribals of Attapady, for one, used to cultivate it a lot. But with the arrival of the public distribution system (PDS) which supplies rice, this millet has also disappeared from their life by and large, taking away the nutritional qualities it provided,” said Ushakumari.
Millets, “ancient grains with a myriad of beneficial nutrients”, should be brought back into the daily diet, the organisers said. So rather than just the cereals in their raw form, products on display at the fair also include processed items that, it is hoped, will appeal to the public’s palate. Popped sorghum and little millet semolina (‘chama rava’) to name a couple.
Moreover, there are also recipes of various dishes like tomato foxtail millet (‘tina’) rice, ‘ragi aloo paratha’, ‘tina laddoo’ and ‘chama paal payasam’ that are on display. Several of these millet-based dishes are also available to taste.
Day one of the mela also saw a seminar with talks by Beela G K, director, Centre for Disability Studies; food activist Sreedevi Lekshmikutty; nutrition expert Lalitha Appukuttan; and Leena Prakash, author of ‘Treasures of the Indian Kitchen.’
The Organic Mela is on at YMCA Hall till Saturday from 10 am to 7.30 pm.