Bajra or pearl millet as it is also known, is a nutritious grain widely used in Indian cuisine during the winters. Consumed for its various health benefits, here are six ways to include more of the millet in your diet.
Pearl millet or bajra is a type of grain commonly grown in the African and Asian continents since it is known for its resilience to harsh climates. A staple food in many parts of India, the highly nutritious, gluten-free millet is said to be rich in essential nutrients like iron, magnesium and B vitamins. Since it is a warming grain known to generate heat within the body, it is especially suitable for consumption during colder months, as it helps maintain body temperature. Since the millet is typically harvested during the later phase of the autumn season, it is readily available during the winter months. The high-energy grain provides long-lasting energy during the harsh winter months, when the body tends to demand more fuel to keep warm.
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Made with bajra flour, these flatbreads are cooked on a hot griddle or tava until toasty and done, similar to whole wheat rotis. Eaten with vegetable preparations for lunch or dinner, the bajra roti is an excellent gluten-free option for anyone with glycaemic sensitivities. What makes these rotis unique are its coarse, nutty flavours that pair well with simple sides like crushed jaggery and ghee, or even a spicy-tangy curry.
A nutritious one pot meal made with a combination of pearl millets, lentils and an assortment of vegetables or spices, this wholesome preparation involves soaking bajra grains and cooking them along with lentils like moong dal, seasonal vegetables like carrots, peas or cauliflower and spices until it forms a porridge-like consistency. Eaten with a liberal dollop of ghee, the bajra khichdi tastes best with a side of pickle and papad.
Bajra Methi Puri
Combining two winter specialties of bajra with fresh fenugreek leaves, this delicious puri makes for a light snack on its own or for a filling meal when eaten with a piping hot potato curry. The versatile dough for these puris can also be repurposed into parathas or theplas, if you have some leftover, to pack for a weekday lunchbox or eat for dinner. When methi is not in season, substitute with the dry variation or use leafy greens that are in season at the time.
These veggie-loaded vadas are a crispy-fluffy treat that can give bhajiyas a run for their money. Add in grated red carrots, coarsely ground green peas and even finely chopped cauliflower or mashed sweet potatoes to bulk up your vadas with added nutrition and winter goodness. Enjoy them with a spicy green chutney or ketchup and even pack them in your kid’s lunchbox as a great way to get them to eat more vegetables.
Bajre Ki Kheer
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A creamy sweet dish that’s popular during festivals or special occasions, grains of bajra are soaked and cooked in milk until they are soft and tender. Sweetened with sugar or jaggery, along with cardamom, saffron and chopped nuts for flavour and texture, this decadent and slightly thick dessert is served either warm or chilled, based on personal preferences. Enjoy the kheer as a sweet ending to your meal or on its own for breakfast, when it is also most beneficial to consume for its ability to keep you full.
Bajre Ki Raab
A traditional Gujarati beverage or porridge-like drink made from bajra flour, the raab is commonly consumed during the winters or served to individuals recovering from illnesses, due to its nourishing and warming properties. The process of making raab involves bajra flour being mixed with water to create a smooth paste or slurry which is then cooked on low heat, until it thickens to a porridge-like consistency. The easy-to-digest and energy boosting properties enable it to be served hot or consumed on its own as a comforting drink.