These days, there's a new "superfood" on urban menus every week. One day it's chia seeds, the next it's quinoa. What might come as a surprise to most is that India has been cultivating its own superfood right here under our noses, for centuries.
Until 50 years ago, millets - like bajra, jowar and ragi - were India's primary grain. They fell out of favour because they're often considered "coarse grains", and people began to prefer a "refined" diet instead. But this new diet led to a lack of essential nutrition . Millets, on the other hand, are high in fibre and protein, gluten-free, and prevent cardiovascular disease, hypertension and acidity. They also have a low glycemic index - perfect for diabetics.
As if the health benefits weren't enough, millets are great for the environment, because of their low water and carbon footprint, and their ability to withstand extreme climate conditions, which is a boon for farmers.
The culinary world is finally taking notice, with restaurants and chefs embracing millets and creating all manner of delicious new dishes.
The Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) and MSSRF have partnered up with ICRISAT to develop and implement the "Smart Food" concept in India, building a communication strategy to increase millet consumption by promoting its many benefits.