Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Think globally, eat Bhakri

My previous post talked about farmers in the Sittilingi valley intercropping millet, onions, and brinjal with cotton and turmeric so that they are food secure.

A millet grown widely in India and in the Sittilingi Valley is Bajra (Pearl Millet). Apparently, you need more energy to mill Bajra than you do to mill rice or wheat. Older ladies in the valley say they used to mill Bajra manually, but younger generations do not have the energy to do this. They also say they used to have the energy because they consumed Bajra!

Not sure if Bajra can make you powerful, but it is definitely healthier than rice or wheat: it has higher fibre content, and whole grain flour always has high levels of iron. Most importantly, it grows easily, even in soil that may be unfertile for other crops.

In the US, I've found millet flour in Whole Foods, though it doesn't say exactly which millet they milled! I've used it, and it's ok, though nothing like the Bajra flour straight from the farm that Suvarna used in Pune-the lady who used to help me with my house work, Suvarna, would bring home Bajra flour milled on her farm near Nasik. She taught me how to make Bajra Rotis, or Bhakris.
Think globally, eat bhakri.

1 comment:

Radhika said...

Hey Supriya
Nice post. As you know reStore is trying to repopoularize millet consumption since it has gone out of vogue in urban India.

Thinai, Samai, Varagu (as they are called in Tamil) in addition to bajra, jowar, ragi are the six millets we currently are able to stock. We do find that knowledge about millet-consumption is hard to find. Traditionally they were eaten more by physically active people as some millets are harder to digest than rice and wheat for sedentary city folks.

We are trying to collate such knowledge and recipes on our new website -- Hope you can contribute. Look out for the revamped restore.org.in in a few weeks :-)