Know What's Thinai Millet? Make Amazing Healthy Dishes Using It
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The year 2023 might be International Year of the Millet, but in India, millets of various types and kinds are celebrated every year, day in and day out. One such millet type that is very popular in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, is Thinai. A type of yellow-coloured foxtail millet, Thinai is a type of small-seeded grain. An ancient grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years, Thinai millet also has a huge cultural significance in Tamil Nadu. 

Often referred to as Thinai Arisi in Tamil, Thinai millet is used to cook sattvik and nutritious dishes for various festivals and rituals in Tamil Nadu like Makar Sankranti. Thinai is often mentioned in classical Tamil Sangam literature, poems, and ancient texts, reflecting its importance in Tamil culture and identity. These songs and stories highlight the cultural importance and admiration for this grain, often portraying it as a symbol of resilience, abundance, nourishment, and agricultural prosperity. 

The reason behind this is simple. Thinai millet is highly nutritious and offers several health benefits. It is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Consuming Thinai millet as part of a balanced diet can have several health benefits. It is also low in fat and gluten-free, making it suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. 

So, eating Thinai millet is a great idea for your health and to explore Tamil Nadu’s rich culinary culture too. Wondering which recipes to start out with? Here are seven amazing Tamil Thinai recipes for you to try out. 

Video Credit: YouTube/HomeCookingShow

Thinai Upma

Perfect for breakfasts as well as evening hunger pangs, Thinai Upma is a simple dish that is also very quick and easy to make. All you need to do is temper mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and cumin seeds in oil, add some chopped veggies, coconut and saute. Then, just add the Thinai and water, season and let the dish come together on its own! 

Thinai Pongal

This Thinai recipe, also known as Thinai Ven Pongal, has mention even in Tamil Sangam literature and is one of the most ancient recipes of India. Pongal is a simple dish of rice cooked in boiling milk, and for this Thinai Pongal you just have to replace the rice with Thinai. The Thinai Pongal can be tempered with mustard seeds, green chillies and curry leaves to add flavour. 

Thinai Thakkali Sadam 

Just like in Pongal, Thakkali Sadam or tomato rice is usually made with rice. To Make Thinai Thakkali Sadam, you just need to replace the rice with Thinai millet and cook up this simple, tomato-flavoured delicacy. This one works perfectly for tiffin or lunch boxes too. 

Thinai Uttapam 

The bottom line with Thinai is that anything that can be made with rice can be made with this millet, so why not some Thinai Uttapam? To make the batter, you need to soak the Thinai with urad dal for a few hours, then grind it into a paste and ferment. You can easily add veggies of your choice to make this Thinai Uttapam. 

Thinai Paniyaram

Thinai Paniyaram works as a really yummy tiffin box or snack option and is very easy to prepare. You just need to wash and soak the Thinai for two hours, grind into a paste and add some rice flour, vegetables, curry leaves, etc to enhance the batter’s flavours. Then, just use a paniyaram pan to whip up some perfectly round Thinai Paniyaram and serve with chutney. 

Thinai Payasam

Payasam is a Tamil traditional favourite and Thinai Payasam is a nutty and nutritious version of this sweet dish. The Thinai should ideally be dry roasted before cooking it in thick milk. Use jaggery to sweeten this payasam and add some dry fruits right at the end to add more yumminess. 

Thinai Kozhukattai

Kozhukattai is a delicious Tamil snack that can be either sweet or savoury. Thinai Kozhukattai is usually made in its savoury form by cooking the Thinai with curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and chillies. The mix is then shaped into balls or oval shapes and steamed again before serving with chutney.