Millet is a staple that is a significant protein but most under-rated item on any restaurant's menu. Early in the year, the United Nations had officially declared 2018 The International Year of Millets to spread awareness; with the fast-paced industry changes, the staple had lost its place in the kitchen. Though earlier, there were some of the restaurants in India that emphasised on millets menu, they too didn't survive for long.
Millets for Health-Conscious
In an attempt to bring back the long-forgotten hero of the kitchen - millets - Punjab Grill recently came up with its millets menu festival. The restaurant believes millets are the underrated Indian superfoods. "The nutritious value of including millet converts the meals into a healthy yet flavourful affair, adding a classic Indian touch to it," said Chef Vineet Manocha, Punjab Grill. The Millet menu is also the initiative of Lite Bite Foods who is spreading awareness to support farmers producing the lesser known millets.
Bajra Malpua is served at Punjab Grill this season
The millet menu at Punjab Grill complements a wide array of flavours and cuisines across the world. Puffed Bajra and Red Bean Chat, Jowar aur Tamatar Cheela, Ragi te Khubani da Halwa are the main temptations this season. Each portion is designed to be shared with at least two people ensuring the benefits are shared and passed on to more than one diner on the table. The menu is diverse in nature to offer choices and nutrition. The menu designed suits several customers from health-conscious foodies to the diabetics, as a lot of millet dishes have a low glycemic index.
"Customers are becoming increasingly health conscious even during the festive season. They prefer to balance the taste buds with a bit of health quotient. At Punjab Grill, we have observed that customers enjoy the familiarity of Indian flavours and spices. Thus, we have created a menu that balances textures and nutrition through millets and flavours through spices & herbs."
~Chef Vineet Manocha, Punjab Grill
People Order Millets at Restaurants
Ragi Te Khubani served at Punjab Grill
With the advent of superfoods, millets are gaining popularity and importance that was long due. Speaking about the response on how people are taking the millets on Punjab Grill's menu, Chef Vineet said, "The millet menu has received pleasantly surprised responses and appreciation. The chaats - Multigrain Sevpuri and Bajra Haleem - have been quite well received amongst others. Perhaps it may set a trend to include some items as a part of the regular menu.”
People of Indore are also getting conscious of their health. Speaking about the people's reaction over the millet-based menu at the Indore Marriott Hotel, Executive Chef Vivek Kalia said, "It is surprising to note that even traditional recipes such as Bajre ka Khichda, Ragi Dosa or Upma are in demand not only for their health benefits but also for its relishing flavours. At Indore Marriott Hotel, we keep experimenting with dishes made of Bajra, Makka and Jowar, particularly which are in demand and are great in taste. We do have such recipes on our menu and we introduce different dishes in our festive activities, time-to-time." "We had recently organized an event during Navratri called "Food Ratri", where we have included Kuttu Ki Roti which since then has been on demand," he added.
According to Chef Vivek, eating habits are taking a front seat that is causing a booming interest in organic, healthy and nutritious diets. Considering the extensive varieties of millets we get in India, and their usefulness, the scope to modernize is vast; particularly exciting for modern-era chefs, as this would give them a chance to curate their own special dishes under the millet-menu category.
"I believe after the organic boom the next boom will be of millets as trending superfoods to keep you fit and healthy."
~Executive Chef Vivek Kalia, Indore Marriott Hotel
Barley and Jowar Salad is one of the top-selling dishes at The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai (left). Executive Chef Thomas Zacharias (right).
At The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai, out of the 60 dishes on the menu, millet-based cuisines namely Millet Khichdi, Millet Salad and Millet-based roti are among people’s favourites. Speaking to Restaurant India, Thomas Zacharias, Executive Chef of The Bombay Canteen, said, “The menu is constantly changing. We also introduced Millet Chat. We do different cuisines around the year." Egg Kejriwal and Barley and Jowar Salad are among the top-selling dishes at the Mumbai Restaurant.
“At The Bombay Canteen our focus is to showcase the Indian ingredients, we don’t use anything imported. Our philosophy is to celebrate Indian ingredients. People love to come to our restaurant and try these dishes. The response has been amazing. People have been happy and proud to see the millets which they may have not eaten since long or maybe they had grown up eating and find them on the menu,” said Chef Thomas on people’s reaction to the millets.
Speaking about the guest experience at the Restaurant, Chef Thomas said The Bombay Canteen’s primary focus is food and guest experience.
Why Millets Should be on Restaurants’ Menu?
Millets are a good alternative for people who are intolerant to gluten. They have high natural fibre and, thus, are good as cereals for weight loss. They are not only a great source of starch, protein, fibre and amino acids, but also taste good and are easy to digest.
Considering all these factors and the benefits, Chef Vivek said, "We prepare authentic home recipes with a chef's twist." Speaking about the changing trends in the food industry, Chef Vivek believes during the early 80s, millets got sidelined from the food baskets and the reason was mainly due to the lack of awareness about its nutritional value. The trend is now changing as we are seeing an increase in consumption due to its health benefits. Millets, one of the superfoods has helped in giving a rebirth to trending healthy menus.