Hyderabad: Want to learn how to make millet idlis or your favourite biryani with millets? 'The Millet Movement in India', the first book about the increasingly popular grain, will guide you and teach you a million things about millets.

Published by Penguin House, The Millet Movement has been written by Joanna Kane-Potaka, former assistant director-general of ICRISAT, Liam Wright, a photographer from New Zealand who has covered India extensively in his works, and Dr. Sangeetha Parthasarthi, a social scientist from Bengaluru who previously worked with ICRISAT.

The book introduces the chefs who are giving millets a modern makeover, farmers who are keeping traditions alive, entrepreneurs who take millets to the consumers in umpteen ways every day, and the traditions that underpin all. The book also makes a clear case for consuming millets to overcome anemia and promote healthy growth in children by presenting scientific evidence from various studies, including from the first school feeding study with millets undertaken by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Akshaya Patra.

One of the authors, Kane-Potaka, said, "As 2023, the International Year of Millets, approaches, this book is a timely read for everyone from the consumer to the chef and from the farmer to the policymaker."

Millet recipes

Millet recipes range from traditional dishes like idlis, biryani, and laddoos to modern dishes like burgers and waffles. The book provides numerous ways to cook millets with a recipe section from some of India's top chefs like Ranveer Brar, Sanjeev Kapoor, Anahita Dhondy and Saransh Goila.

"Millets are an opportunity, right at our doorstep, to create new exciting products and markets. If we want to tackle climate change, environmental degradation, malnutrition, and farmers' resilience, millets have to be part of the solution," emphasized Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, the director-general of ICRISAT.

The book is also supported by ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR). The director of IIMR, Dr. Vilas Tonapi, said, "India has the largest biodiversity of millets in the world as well as the largest range of millet products. We can leverage this to become a global leader in millets."

Prof. Ramesh Chand, a member of NITI Aayog, said in the book, "Millets are indeed superior cereals in terms of nutrition and resilience and also in terms of sustainability. They are ideally suited to address child undernutrition and fit very well in nature-friendly production. Use of millets in various nutrition intervention programs and in the Public Distribution System will be of great help to address malnutrition and improve the health of low-income households."

Health benefits

ICRISAT, ICAR-IIMR, and the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) are some of the key organizations leading this cause with scientific backing. The recent scientific case for consuming millets has been made through a series of studies led by ICRISAT along with NIN and others which have established that regular consumption can help lower the risk of diabetes and obesity, while improving cholesterol levels and contributing to a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. The research effort had also demonstrated the effectiveness of millets in combating iron-deficiency anemia and deficiencies of calcium.

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