Health with Whole Grain Bajra/ Pearl Millet

Health benefits of Bajra/ Pearl Millet
Bajra is one of the oldest millet used by our ancestors. Along with wheat flour even bajra was included in the regular diet. It is known to have a very high fiber content which makes it healthier. It is used as a regular meal in places like Rajasthan, Gujarat. Now a day’s it is gaining its importance back.

Now Bajra are recommended by many health professionals, Dieticians and Nutritionist because of its various health benefits. People are becoming more and more conscious about the fact of bajra having various good effects on the body.
  1. Bajra is high in protein as compared to other cereals. It contains all essential amino acids and is particularly high in lysine, methionine, and cysteine.
  2. It provides us with disease fighting phyto chemicals that lower cholesterol, antioxidants, plenty of fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamins-E and B-complex, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. 
  3. It is a gluten free grain. So it is one of the grains which can be easily included in the diet of a person who is suffering from Gluten Induced Enteropathy or has allergy towards gluten. 
  4. It is rich in calcium and iron too.
  5. Bajra helps maintain cardiovascular health and helps reduce acidity problems.
  6. Pearl millet is consumed in the form of chappatis, bhakris (eaten in Indian states like Gujarat, Maharashtra) porridge, boiled or steamed food. 
  7. It can be mixed with other flours to be eaten in the form of a fiber rich multi-grain chapattis.
Bajra has some medicinal properties.
  • It is especially effective for bleeding piles, epilepsy, insomnia, impotency, high blood pressure, diabetes and tuberculosis. 
  • It is easily digestible and has the lowest probability of causing allergic reactions. Bajra, being gluten free, is a very good food choice for those suffering from celiac disease who cannot tolerate gluten. 
  • It is highly effective and recommended for cases of severe constipation and stomach ulcers. 
  • The presence of phytic acid and niacin in bajra helps in lowering the cholesterol. 
  • Being rich in fiber content, bajra is good for diabetics, keeping the glucose levels normal. 
  • This whole grain supports weight loss as the high fiber content leads to a feeling of fullness for a prolonged period of time. It is helpful in maintaining cardiovascular health and in acidity problems. Bajra helps in reducing weight. 
  • It controls blood sugar levels and hence good for diabetic. Excessive eating of these grains causes high uric acid deposits in the system. So people with kidney and rheumatic diseases should use it with care. 
As mentioned above, Bajra comes with immense health benefits and uses. If you have known the importance of whole grains, then you should make a conscious effort to include Bajra in your diet.

Culinary Uses 
  • It is commonly consumed as leavened or unleavened breads, porridge and khichdi.
  • When using bajra for khichdi, soak overnight and then pressure cook with green moong dal till soft. Temper spices in ghee and add. This is a traditional Rajasthani food.
  • When processed into flour, it is used to prepare bajra rotlis, khakras, bhakri, stuffed parathas, muthias, dhoklas, chaklis, etc.
  • In South India, especially in farming communities, bajra is often pressure-cooked like rice, molded into balls when cool, and stored in a jar full of water. These balls can be had the next morning with curds, onions and green chillies as a refreshing and nutritious breakfast.
How to store
  • Always store in airtight containers in a cool dry place.
  • It is best to use fresh bajra, so purchase in smaller quantities.
Some Quick Recipes by Tarla Dalal

Bajra Dosa
Combination of par boiled rice, dal along with bajra and methi seeds.

Ingredients
1 cup bajra (black millet)
1 1/2 cups par boiled rice (chawal)
3/4 cup urad dal (split black lentils)
2 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil for tempering
1 tsp mustard seeds ( rai / sarson)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
oil for greasing
3/4 tsp cooking soda

Method
Soak the bajra and rice in enough water for 6 hours.
Soak dal and fenugreek seeds, separately for 1 hour.
Combine the dal and fenugreek seeds and blend in a mixer to smooth frothy paste.
Combine the bajra and rice and blend in a mixer to coarse rawa consistency.
Combine both the mixtures, mix well and add the salt.
Cover and keep aside to ferment for 12 hours in cold weather and 6 to 7 hours in hot weather.
Heat the oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
When the seeds crackle, add this tempering to the batter along with cooking soda and mix well.
Grease a dosa pan and pour one ladle of the fermented batter and shape into dosa.
Cook covered on a slow flame for 1 or 2 minutes or till cooked.
Proceed with same with the remaining batter to make more such dosas.
Serve hot with onion chutney, green chutney.

Bajra Khichdi
Stuffed to the core with iron health, this khichdi is a treat for elders and the children in the family!

Ingredients 
1/2 cup bajra (black millet), soaked or 8 hours and drained 1/2 cup yellow moong dal (split yellow gram) , washed and drained 1 tbsp ghee 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) 1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi) 1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing) salt to taste

Method
Combine the bajra, moong dal, salt and 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker, mix well and pressure cook for 4 whistles. Allow the steam to escape before opening the lid. Keep aside. Heat the ghee in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the asafoetida, turmeric powder and sauté for a few seconds. Add the cooked bajra and moong dal and salt, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

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