Millet is a collective term for a number of small, seeded grains of the Poaceaoe Grass family. Thought to have been cultivated from as early as 8300 BC, this drought-resistant crop is the sixth most important grain in the world.
The main types of millet grown are Pearl, Foxtail, Proso and Finger, with India, Africa and China being the largest producers.
Processed millet grain must first have the indigestible outer hull removed. As a grain, millet is a common ingredient of porridge, pilaf or cereal, particularly in Africa. In India, the milled grain (also known as Bajri flour) is used to make a flatbread known as Roti.
The Western world will know millet more for its use in bird feed, however, the gluten free properties of millet mean that it has become more popular as an alternative to wheat flour. The light texture and subtle, but sweet, flavour of millet flour make it ideal for use in baking. With 10 grams of protein per 100 grams of flout, millet is suitable for a wide variety of uses. Used in combination with other gluten free flours and starches, it produces a soft and tender crumb. Over use of millet flour, however, can lead to a gritty and crumbly textured product.
Health warning: Millet contains goitrogens, which can suppress thyroid activity. Anyone suffering with a thyroid condition should avoid millet.