The Little Millet (samai) is believed to have originated in India. It is grown and used for food almost exclusively in our country. It belongs to the group of small millets (other members being Proso, Kodo, Barnyard and Finger millets), which are said to be nutritionally superior to rice and wheat. The name Samai is actually a Tamil word for this lesser known member of the millet family. It is known as Kutki or Shavan in Hindi, Gajro or Kuri in Gujarati, and Sava in Marathi.
One of the few cereal crops that does not demand much from the soil, Samai can grow well in the poorest of soils and with little rainfall. Yet, while it does not take much, Samai gives back tremendously in terms of health benefits. Have a look:
Health Benefits of Samai:
1. Among cereals, Samai has been found to have the highest amount of fiber. Its crude fiber content is nearly twice that of other cereals.
2. Samai is rich in phenolic compounds that show antioxidant activity.
3. This millet is an excellent source of Iron. One serving (30 g) can provide 16% of the daily iron needs for an adult man.
4. Like other millets, Samai is also gluten free. It makes up for the lack of wholegrain fiber in Celiac (gluten free) diets.
5. Samai has a low to medium glycaemic index thus is diabetic friendly.
6. It is a rich source of the essential amino acids Histidine, Methionine and Phenylalanine.
(Buy Samai and other millets here)
Here's How to Prepare this Millet
Spread the desired quantity on a dry plate and remove any stones/twigs. Give it a light rinse in the sieve. Heat a skillet and dry roast till it develops a light golden-brown colour.
a) To use in puri/paratha, grind and add to dough. Doughs kneaded using hot water hold better.
b) To make upma/ porridge, add after adding spices and other ingredients and cook with twice the amount of water as compared to the quantity of the millet.
c) Alternatively, you can cook the roasted millet with water in the pressure cooker, and then mix with roasted spices/ potatoes, etc.
Samai upma along with Aloo ki Kadhi makes an excellent, well-balanced meal. Spruce it up with a fresh salad and some home-made chaas.
Samai has a mild taste, very similar to that of rice and can used as a substitute in all rice recipes. Try making a dosa, biryani or payasam with it. You can also experiment by making Tabbouleh with this millet.
Some exciting Samai Recipes -
1. Vratwali Kheer
Recipe by Chef Niru Gupta
This is made with little millet, slow cooked till the mild reduces and becomes creamy.
2. Chawal ka Upma
Recipe by Chef Niru Gupta
You can use little millet to make a heart upma - a healthy breakfast dish, loaded with vegetables.