Five millets Kheer is a delicious way to incorporate not just one, but different kinds of millets in your diet. Now that millets are in revival and total acceptance mode, here’s a fail-safe recipe to use most of them in one beautiful dish.
Every now and then a new food trend emerges and this is one of them that I am happy about. The ultimate peasantry food – Millets have taken South India by storm. There is huge awareness about these ancient grains also known as “Siri Dhaanya” in Kannada meaning “Rich grain” implying nutritionally rich. Hence the chosen name, Siri Dhaanya Kheer for this unique South Indian style dessert.
Millets have been grown for the longest time in dry land because they are drought resistant. These local indigenous crops are now being given all the attention possible as a super food for the health conscious, a nutritive substitute for white rice and a good gluten free alternative for wheat as Celiac disease is an increasingly well known condition.
Millets are a thermogenic food, meaning heat producing (metabolism increasing) foods Click To Tweet similar to ginger, black pepper, sesame seeds and cloves. They need more water for proper digestion and assimilation. Hence cooking millets in a lot of water is a great way to ensure better digestion as done in this recipe. Also, whenever you consume millets, be sure to consumer enough water as well.
Because of their fibre content, they are quite filling. They are rich in phytonutrients and minerals like Iron, calcium and Magnesium. As they are low glycemic index foods, all the millets are great for controlling blood sugar and cholestrol levels.
A word of caution: Try not to substitute out rice entirely with millets as they are known to have goitrogens – substances that hinder the production of thyroid hormone. So those with hypothyroidism have to take special note of this.
In this recipe, I have used five out of eight millets available (names also given in kannada and tamil respectively):
- Foxtail millet (Navae, Thinai)
- Kodo millet (Harka, Varagu)
- Proso millet (Baragu, Chena)
- Little millet (Saame, Saamai)
- Barnyard millet (Oodhalu, Kuthiraivaali)
To make it easier to identify and remember millets, here are some pointers:
Little millet as the name goes is the smallest of the above five and is slightly bigger in size compared to poppy seeds.
Proso millet is the largest millet among the five I have used (after pearl millet / Bajra and Sorghum/ Jowar).
Proso and Foxtail millet appear similar in shape but differ in size and are cream colored.
Little millet resembles barnyard millet. Little millet, Barnyard millet and Kodo millet are similar in color differing by a few shades – Kodo being on the darker side.
In ascending order size and color wise, Little millet -> Barnyard millet -> Kodo millet
Barnyard millet has a somewhat rosy appearance.
Finger millet / Raagi (not used in the recipe) looks different from all the above five and has a dark brick brownish black color
Cooked Foxtail millet reminds me so much of the texture and appearance of Couscous. Even after pressure cooking, it has a nice bite to it.
Something to remember:
Always use fresh stock of millets and if they smell rancid, they are not fit for consumption. The musty smell is a classic giveaway of that.
Unless you use them regularly, it is wise to buy millets in smaller quantities as needed.
When people are avoiding Payasam now-a-days, hopefully you will be proud to make this Payasam/Kheer to feed your family and friends. This recipe suits the modern kitchen and modern tastes and is one to impress your guests at lunch or dinner. The Persian flavors of the rose petals, rose water/essence, pistachios and saffron elevate the taste of the humble millets and is a sure crowd pleaser.
This recipe is also for those who think millets are not easy to cook.
So, go ahead, try it and let me know what you think!
- 1 tbsp Foxtail millet / Navane / Thinai
- 1 tbsp Proso millet / Baragu / Chena
- 1 tbsp Little millet / Saame / Saamai
- 1 tbsp Kodo millet / Harka / Varagu
- 1 tbsp Barnyard millet / Oodhalu / Kuthiraivaali
- 1 tbsp mung dal / split yellow dal
- 1/2 litre whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 200 gm condensed milk
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 15 cashews broken into pieces
- 7-8 pistachios raw or roasted
- 2 tbsp raisins I use Sandhukani raisins
- 3 pods cardamom finely powdered
- 1 big pinch of saffron
- 1-2 drops of rose essence use more if using edible rose water
- 2 big fat pinches dried rose petals for garnish
Heat ghee in a skillet or kadai. When the ghee is hot enough (not smoking), add cashew pieces and roast on low flame until golden brown. Scoop out the cashew pieces into a cup.
To the remaining ghee, measure and pour the millets and mung dal and roast on low-medium flame until aromatic and the dal turns golden brown.
While the millets are getting roasted, bring milk to boil on another burner.
Transfer the roasted ingredients to a cooker container. Use a little water to swish the skillet / kadai and coax the millets sticking to the pan into the container. Pressure cook the roasted mix along with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk for 3-4 whistles.
When the cooker has cooled, heat the remaining milk in a thick bottomed sauce pan. Powder saffron in a small mortar & pestle and add sprinkle to the milk and stir to mix and spread the saffron color. Fluff up the cooked millets-mung mix using a fork and transfer into the milk.
Cook on low-medium flame stirring intermittently to not let the bottom from scorching, until the milk has been absorbed. Reduce the flame to sim and pour in the condensed milk. Don't forget to wash the top of the can of condensed milk before opening.
Stir to mix well. Add 1-2 tbsp ghee if you need more richness. Turn off the heat. Do not cook more at this point else the grains will turn rubbery.
Add powdered cardamom, rose water drops and stir gently to combine. This has to be done after switching off, else the aroma will evaporate away.
Heat the rose petals in a small tadka pan on a low flame to crisp them up. This helps to crush the petals easily.
Serve in individual bowls garnished with fried cashews, raisins and crushed rose petals on top.
Pitsachios either raw or roasted can be substituted in place of fried cashews and taste equally good. I like to serve as well as eat both versions.
If you want to skip condensed milk, you can replace it with 1/2 cup brown sugar. Taste and adjust if needed.
Make sure to use fresh stock of millets.