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The Tasty, Healthy Kodo Millet

May/21/2023 / by Pratika Yashaswi

It’s low on sugar, free of gluten, and beneficial overall. What’s not to like?

Kodo millet makes for a healthy, tasty meal
Kodo millet makes for a healthy, tasty meal. Shutterstock

The United Nations General Assembly declared this the international year of millets – and for good reason.

Widely consumed in Asia and Africa, they are some of the world’s oldest cultivated crops and rank high among the most nutritious, economically, and environmentally friendly crops available today. Its beneficial properties make the millet an ideal, low-glycemic choice for vegans, vegetarians, diabetics, and people with gluten allergies.

There are numerous varieties of millet available, such as pearl millet, finger millet, barnyard millet, sorghum, and amaranth. If you’re South Asian, you might know them as ragi, bajra, jowar, rajgira, and by many other region- specific names. Each type of millet offers its unique flavor, texture, and nutritional profile and lends itself beautifully to many South Asian recipes. In this series, we’ll be diving deep into different kinds of millets and give you ways to incorporate them into your diet!

The Antioxidant Powerhouse

Kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum L.), sometimes referred to as ditch millet, arikelu, koovaragu, and various other terms, originated in Africa as a wild grass and is considered a weed there. The species made its way to India and was domesticated around 3,000 years ago. It continues to be a vital food grain throughout various regions, especially on the Deccan Plateau.

Kodo millets, like all millets, are gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, and highly digestible. But when kodo is consumed regularly, it’s particularly beneficial for postmenopausal women at risk of cardiovascular disease, such as those with high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels. It has also been found to alleviate conditions like asthma, migraine, hypertension, heart attack, atherosclerosis, and diabetic heart disease.

Kodo stands out from other millets for its outstanding antioxidant activity (which probably explains its myriad health benefits). Studies show a  higher free-radical-quenching potential in kodo millet compared to other millets.

If you’re looking to add kodo to your diet, you’re in luck! There are lots of great ways to adapt it to recipes in place of quinoa, rice, or any other grain.

You can buy whole kodo grains here and kodo millet flour here.

Kodo Millet and Mushroom Pilaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup kodo millet, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (e.g., button, cremini, or shiitake)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds (optional)

METHOD

  1. In a saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil, then add the kodo millet. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the millet is tender and the water is absorbed.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their moisture and begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the white wine (if using), scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Add the cooked kodo millet, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring to combine.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, chives, and toasted slivered almonds (if using).
  7. Serve hot

    Pro-tip: Try a variation of spices with this pilaf. You can experiment with sumac and  za’atar for a middle-eastern twist; or Indianize it with some pepper, bay leaves and mint! and more!

Kodo Millet with Stuffed Bell Peppers

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 cup kodo millet, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (for garnish)

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C)
  2. Cut off the tops of the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil, then add the kodo millet. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the millet is tender and the water is absorbed.
  4. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked kodo millet, diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Spoon the millet mixture into the bell peppers, filling them to the top. Place the stuffed peppers in a baking dish.
  7. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
  8. Remove the foil, top each pepper with shredded cheese, and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  9. Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley.

Asian-Style Kodo Millet “Fried Rice”

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup kodo millet, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (low-sodium, if preferred)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil, then add the kodo millet. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the millet is tender and the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  3. Add the onion and carrot, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.
  4. Stir in the peas and corn, cooking for another 2 minutes.
  5. Push the vegetables to one side of the skillet, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the empty side. Pour in the beaten eggs and scramble until cooked through.
  6. Mix the scrambled eggs with the vegetables, then add the cooked kodo millet to the skillet. Stir well to combine.
  7. Pour in the soy sauce and sesame oil, stirring to coat the millet and vegetables evenly. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Remove from heat and garnish with sliced green onions before serving.

Pro-tip: You can also add colored bell peppers, and customize this with your favorite vegetables or protein. Just as with fried rice, leftover cooked kodo works best!

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