Little Millet - The Immune Boosting Indigenous Grain

Little Millet - The Immune Boosting Indigenous Grain

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What is Little Millet?

Millets are special amongst grains as they are nutritious, gluten-free, non-sticky and non-acid-forming. For those who are health conscious and wary about what they eat, experts suggest that millets should be a part of their daily regular diet.

Little Millet (Panicum miliare), one of the small millets, is called kutki in Hindi, sava (Marathi), gajro (Gujrati), same (Kannada), samai (Tamil), and samalu (Telugu).

Little millet is suitable for people of all age groups. Little millet is grown throughout India and is a traditional crop. It is a relative of proso millet but the seeds of little millet are much smaller than proso millet.

It is mostly consumed as rice. Any recipe that demands staple rice can be prepared using little millet. It has the smallest grains, so it cooks faster than other millets.

Little millet is commonly available across the country as a whole grain. Millet flour can be procured from certain sources or more commonly could be made at home. Practically devoid of grain storage pests, the little millets have indefinite storage life.

Minor millets, with their low carbohydrate content, slow digestibility and low water-soluble gum content have been attributed to improve glucose metabolism. The grains release sugar slowly in the blood and slow down glucose absorption. The dietary fiber and resistant starch in minor millets exhibit hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects.

Little millet has a significant role in providing nutraceutical components such as phenols, tannins and phytates along with other nutrients.

Samai dosa, porridge, paddu and payasam from little millet are few traditional recipes in different millet growing states in India.

Nutrient Composition of Little Millet


Nutritional information on Little millet versus other millets (per 100g of raw millet)

All values except protein are expressed on a dry weight basis.

MilletProtein (g)Carbs (g)Fat (g)Fiber (g)Calcium (mg)Phosphorus (mg)Iron (g)Energy (Kcal)
Little9.7674.77.6172209.3329
  • Little millet is fibrous millet, next to barnyard millet. According to research, some varieties of kodo millet and little millet have been reported to have 37% to 38% of dietary fiber, which is the highest among the cereals. Fiber helps maintain sound digestion and satiates hunger quickly.
  • Like foxtail millet and barnyard millet, little millet is also high in Iron.
  • Little millet is high in fat, comprising majorly of the healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
  • The flavonoids present in the little millet act as antioxidants and play many roles in the body’s immune defence system.
  • Although little millet is high in protein, it has a poor amino acid composition.

Health Benefits of Little Millet


Good Source of Potent Antioxidants

Millet’s antioxidants such as polyphenols, phenolic compounds, tannins, flavonoids are not directly related to nourishing the body, but play an important role in promoting health by helping in diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cataract, cancer, inflammation and gastrointestinal problems.

Little Millet Helps in Preventing cardiovascular disease, cataract, cancer, gastrointestinal Problems

Polyphenols are the biggest group of phytochemicals that have been found in plant-based foods and have been linked to various health benefits. They are considered as “life span essential” due to their role in maintaining health throughout end phase of life.

It has been reported that soluble- and insoluble-bound phenolic extracts of several varieties of millet are rich sources of phenolic compounds. They exhibit antioxidant, metal chelating, and reducing powers.

Furthermore, effects of germination, steaming, and roasting on the nutraceutical and antioxidant properties of little millet were investigated. The results showed that the total phenolic, flavonoid, and tannin contents of processed little millet increased to a fair amount, compared to the native sample indicating that processing has beneficial effects on the nutraceutical and antioxidant properties of little millet.

A recent research published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition society, (2017) mentions the millet grains to be richer in polyphenol and antioxidant content compared to millet flour and flakes. The study represents a starting point for the future human studies, which will look at the effect of polyphenol-rich millet products on glycemic response.

Acts as a Nutraceutical

Little millet has received very little attention from plant breeders as a crop source. The millet is a promising food ingredient suitable for large scale utilization as processed products, snacks, baby foods and also play a major role in propagating food security among underdeveloped and developing countries. It stands out to be one of our “indigenous super foods”.

The cases of obesity and diabetes are increasing fast globally. Food containing complex carbohydrates with high fiber and health beneficial phytochemicals has been in demand to combat health issues.

Awareness about the whole grain foods is increasing worldwide because they are rich sources of phytochemicals and dietary fiber.

Phytates, polyphenols and tannins of millet’s foods can contribute to antioxidant activity that play important role in health, aging and metabolic disease. Millets can be termed as “food medicine”.

Helps Combat Diabetes

High carbohydrate diet can increase plasma glucose, leading to insulin resistance. Little millet is a low glycemic index food, which is a good source of slow digesting carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It takes longer for glucose to enter the bloodstream and hence blood sugar levels are stable. This proves to be beneficial for diabetics who have to control rapid rise and decline of glucose in the blood.

Little Millet Helps Combat Diabetes

Other Benefits of Little Millet

Little millet contains magnesium which can helps improve heart health. Vitamin B3 (niacin) in little millet helps lower cholesterol. Little millet is also a good source of phosphorus which, helps with fat metabolism, body tissue repair and energy production.

Ways to Cook Little Millet


Cooking millets is as simple as cooking rice. The below mentioned ways can be used to cook most small millets like kodo millet, little millet, foxtail millet and proso millet.

Pressure Cooker Method: (1:2 – 2 whistles)

Wash the millet rice. For one measure of millet add two measures of water in a pressure cooker. Close the lid and cook in medium flame. After the first whistle, reduce the flame. After the second whistle, take it off the flame. Do not release the steam and then leave it aside for a few minutes. Let the millet cook in its own steam. The millet should not be mixed using ladle/spoon when the millet is hot. It will make it mushy. The cooked millet can be had with dal/sambhar/curry.

The cooked millet rice should be cooled in a plate, if it is to be prepared into another dish. As the cooked millet cools, it becomes more firm.

Open Vessel Cooking (1:2 – 30 minutes soaking)

For open vessel cooking, the millet needs to be washed and soaked prior. One measure of millet should be soaked in two measures of water for thirty minutes. Cook it in medium flame with a lid. After the water boils, the flame should be reduced. When water evaporates (in about ten minutes), take it off the flame and firmly close the lid.

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Little Millet Recipes


Little Millet Curd Rice

Ingredients:
  • Little millet - 1/2 cup
  • Water - 1 cup
  • Curd - 3/4 cup
  • Milk - 1/4 cup
  • Carrot -3 tbsp
  • Grated coriander leaves - 2 teaspoon
  • Salt - to taste
To Temper:
  • Oil - 1 teaspoon,
  • Mustard seeds -1/2 teaspoon
  • Urad dal - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves
  • Green chilli - 1 finely chopped
  • Ginger - 1/4 inch piece
Preparation Method:
  • Boil water, add the millet and cook till millet becomes soft.
  • Then take the millet in a mixing bowl and mash it and add curd and milk and mix it up well.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the seasoning "to temper" let it splutter.
  • Transfer the tempering to the rice along with grated carrot, coriander leaves and required salt. Mix well.
  • Serve chilled and garnish with carrots and coriander leaves.
Little Millet Recipe

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