The boons of barnyard

The thought of replacing rice in a South Indian household is close to blasphemy.
The boons of barnyard

CHENNAI: The thought of replacing rice in a South Indian household is close to blasphemy. However, with a health-conscious wave looming, millets are finding their permanent residence in kitchens across Tamil Nadu. While some triumphed early on after trials, testing and tasting, others like the barnyard millet or kuthiraivali, scientifically Echinochloa Frumentacea, are now inching their way into people’s diets. .

Nutritionally superior to all other millets and cereals, barnyard millet is the wealthiest reserve of fibre and minerals in the food group. “Barnyard is the healthiest option of the millets. Low in calories and high in fibre, protein and minerals, replacing merely one meal of other cereals with it can be extremely beneficial. It is also a good choice for those beginning a millet-inclusive diet,” says Dr PV Lakshmi, chief dietician at Gleneagles Global Health City.

Popularly grown in the Himalayas, barnyard is an important crop to hills and tribal agriculture. It is also grown on a smaller scale in Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh. Globally, India is the largest producer of this millet. A fast-growing crop that is 
resistant to adverse weather conditions, barnyard is a great choice for sustenance farmers and as an alternate crop to replace failed monsoon harvests. The green stems and leaves grow up to 50-95 cm in height and are ready to harvest in merely 45 days.

Once harvested, they are threshed by trampling, by bullocks, to produce the nutritional grains we receive. You can make kuthiraivali upma, pongal, dosa, kesari or even try some snacks like murukku and tikki, mentions Dr Lakshmi. Labelled the superior millet, one has to assume it has health benefits aplenty. Dr Lakshmi shares some prominent pros of consuming barnyard millet.  

Rich reserve of iron
Just one meal of barnyard millet can satiate 50 per cent of your daily iron requirements. The low reserve of calcium prevents interference in the absorption of iron and thus, it is the ideal choice in the food group for iron requirements. Hot tip: garnish your food containing the millet with some lemon juice to give even better absorption.  

Perfect fit for anaemic needs
Anaemia refers to a condition indicating a low count of red blood cells or haemoglobin in a patient. With its high dose of iron, barnyard millet is a preventer. It is often prescribed liberally to anaemic patients.

An abundant supply of fibre
The ample fibre content in barnyard millet works to the benefit of the human body in several ways — it can prevent a few types of cancer, particularly colon; it relieves constipation; provides satiety or fullness of the stomach, aiding in weight reduction. Furthermore, the presence of amylase, a starch-digesting enzyme, improves digestion.

Gluten-free nourishment
Like other millets, barnyard is also free of gluten and can be easily adopted by those who are gluten-intolerant or following gluten-restricted diets.

Cuts down cholesterol
Those who are looking to reduce their cholesterol can greatly benefit from adding a portion of barnyard to their diet. The low-fat content in the millet absorbs and reduces cholesterol and fat absorption.

Prevents cardiovascular diseases
While the millet has low-fat content, the presence of fatty acids such as linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acids are good for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

For a diabetic-friendly diet
The fatty acids in barnyard millet, coupled with a moderate glycemic index, also cater to the needs of those with diabetes.  

(per 100 g)
Energy: 307 kcal
Protein: 8.2 g, Fat: 2.2 g
Carbohydrates: 65.6 g
Fibre: 12.5 g, Minerals: 4.4 g
Calcium: 23.2 mg, Phosphorus: 280 mg
Iron: 10-15 mg, Vitamin B1: 0.4 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.1 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3): 4.2 mg
Source: Dr PV Lakshmi, 
Gleneagles Global Health City

Barnyard millet pudina rice 
(by cookbook author Krishnakumari Jayakumaar)

Barnyard millet: 1 cup
Pudina (Mint): ½ bunch
Green chillies: 3-4 pieces
Red chillies: 2 pieces
Lemon: 1 piece
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Urad Dal: 1 tsp
Chana Dal: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 1-2
Water: 3 ½ cups
Ginger, Peanuts
Salt to taste

Soak the millets in one cup of water for five hours at least.

Grind together pudina leaves, green chillies, a small piece of ginger, juice of half a lemon and salt to create a chutney.

Cook the soaked millet in 2 ½ cups of water.

To a pan of hot oil, add and saute mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, a few peanuts, curry leaves, and red chillies.

Pour in your pudina chutney to the same pan and reduce the chutney quantity till the water has evaporated.

Once it is reduced, add the cooked millet and salt and mix gently on a slow flame.

Take the pan off the heat after 3-4 minutes of cooking.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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