Little Millet – The poor man’s superfood

Millets are gaining popularity around the world. Many countries in the west have started promoting millets as ancient grains with a huge price tag. They are also turning out to be the solutions to all our environmental problems. How many millets do we have native to our cuisine and how many do we use often?

 Chama(samai/samalu/kutki/saame) – the little millet, was eaten by our grand-parents and previous generations during the ekadasi and other fasting days though rice was our staple diet. This basically ensured there was a change in diet at-least twice a month so that there was no micronutrient deficiency.

It is called the “Little Millet”, however the nutritious value of Chama is very high. It has all the essential amino acids(protein), iron, B vitamins especially B9 Folate(Folic acid), Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium.

Chama, with its dense nutrient profile, is highly  beneficial for everyone especially those who are diabetic or planning to start a family, pregnant, lactating. It is very filling but easily digestible for people of all ages and aids in weight loss. The high fibre and potassium content is good for those who have high cholesterol and blood pressure. The easy digestibility and fibre content is helpful for those suffering from constipation, bloating , acidity or other digestive issues. It is also a pre biotic feeds the probiotic bacteria in your intestine. The high Zinc and Magnesium content boosts our immunity ,  energy , under active thyroid and insulin.

This millet, being native to our cuisine, is very versatile and can be cooked in several ways that will appeal to our taste buds like upma, kanji/porridge, dosa, payasam, pongal etc.

Chama is a drought resistant crop and does not need much irrigation. Traditionally cultivated as the second crop after rice, it enhances soil fertility, can survive in dry or semi-arid regions with little rainfall and soil fertility  . It is not just highly sustainable as  it doesn’t affect the environment with high amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, but also ensures biodiversity.

In India grains like oats that are not indigenous to our cuisine has taken the place of these highly nutritious and affordable millets. Let’s not forgo our native ancient super grains for the foreign ones that are expensive and highly marketed. Chama is not just great for your health, but also for your pocket and environment.

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Have you heard of this millet or eaten it before? Share with us your experience.