scientific name Setaria italica (synonym Panicum italicum L.)
Other names for the species
dwarfsetaria, foxtailbristle-grass, giantsetaria, greenfoxtail, Italianmillet, German millet, and Hungarian millet
Foxtail millet is the second-most widely grown species in the world after Pearl millet. everything related to millets is kind of mysterious, right from the benefits, how long to soak, how to cook and how to relish and Foxtail millets are no exception.
These tiny seeds around 2 mm in size, covered in thin, crispy hull, usually available in light yellow-brown, rusty black go with the scientific name Setaria italica, is an annual crop grown in arid and semi-arid regions. Historians believe that this gluten-free cereal cultivation dates back to 8000 years and have evidence it was grown extensively alongside Yellow River in Cishan, China.
It was mentioned in the ancient Sangam literature of Tamil Nadu, old texts in Tamil language and is associated with the worship of Lord Muruga and His consort Valli. Foxtail millets go with different names in our country. It is known as Kangni in Hindi, Korralu in Telugu, Thinai in Tamil, Thina in Malayalam and Priyangu in Sanskrit. Foxtail millets are equally popular in other countries. It is cultivated extensively in the dry and uplands of Southeast Asia and it is getting popular in Northern America and Europe. Internationally, it is referred with various names includes Chinese millet, Foxtail Bristle Grass, Dwarf Setaria, Italian millet, Red Rala
In India, foxtail millet is still an important crop in its arid and semi-arid regions. In South India, it has been a staple diet among people for a long time from the Sangam period. It is referred to often in old Tamil texts and is commonly associated with Lord Muruga and his consort Valli.
In China, foxtail millet is the most common millet and one of the main food crops, especially among the poor in the dry northern part of that country. In Southeast Asia, foxtail millet is commonly cultivated in its dry, upland regions .In Europe and North America it is planted at a moderate scale for hay and silage, and to a more limited extent for birdseed.
In the northern Philippines, foxtail millet was once an important staple crop, until its later replacement by wet-rice and sweet potato cultivation.
It is a warm season crop, typically planted in late spring. Harvest for hay or silage can be made in 65–70 days with a typical yield of 15,000–20,000 kilograms per hectare (6.7–8.9 short ton/acre) of green matter or 3,000–4,000 kilograms per hectare (1.3–1.8 short ton/acre) of hay. Harvest for grain is in 75–90 days with a typical yield of 800–900 kilograms per hectare (0.36–0.40 short ton/acre) of grain. Its early maturity and efficient use of available water make it suitable for raising in dry areas.
Nutrition in Foxtail Millet: per 100grams
Carbohydrates (grams) : 60.9
Proteins(grams) : 12.3
Fat(grams) : 4.3
Energy(k cak) : 331
Crude fiber(grams) : 8.0
Foxtail millet like other millets is a powerhouse of nutrition. Rich in Vitamin B12, these tiny seeds can offer you a daily dose of ample protein, good fat, carbs and amazing dietary fibre content. Besides copious amounts of lysine, thiamine, iron and niacin, it also offers copious amounts of calcium.
Foxtail Millet in Ayurveda:
Millets are known as Trinadhanya or Kudhanya in Ayurveda. Ancient Ayurvedic texts like Mahodadhi written by Sushena in the 14th century describe Foxtail millets as sweet and astringent to taste, that increases vata dosha but balances doshas related to pitta, kapha and blood tissues. Millets need to be cooked well for deriving full benefits, however, this particular millet should never be mixed with milk, as it may cause severe indigestion.
Health Benefits of Foxtail Millet:
Foxtail millets are an excellent source of iron and calcium which play a pivotal role in maintaining the health of bones and muscles. Iron deficiency can cause various health conditions including weaker muscles, anemia, frequent muscle spasms. Include Foxtail millet in your regular diet to meet the calcium and phosphorous needs of the body for combating brittle bones, inflammation and other bone related chronic conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, spondylitis etc.
Strengthens Nervous System:
Nutritionists strongly recommend the intake the Foxtail millet for keeping various neurological disorders at a bay. Loaded with Vitamin B1, this tiny gluten-free cereal gives your 0.59 mg of it, in every cooked 100 grams. Eating this nutritious cereal not only slows down the progression of various neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc but makes a positive impact on the nervous system. The high amount of iron triggers cognitive function by providing more oxygenation to the brain.
Boosts Cardiac Health:
Millets are in general popular for maintaining good heart health. Being gluten-free, rich in protein and less on carbs these amazing wonders of nature aid in the formation of neurotransmitter acetylcholine that transfers message between muscle and nerves besides protecting the heart functions. Eat it daily to protect heart from various ailments.
Diabetic patients are generally discouraged to cut down on the intake of rice, owing to its high carb content. Foxtail millet is an absolutely great substitute to rice as it keeps you satiated for longer hours. The trick is to eat thoroughly cooked Foxtail millet in the place of rice for preventing those mid-day hunger pangs and avoid sudden spike in sugar levels. The glycemic index of Foxtail millet is at 50.8 making it an ultimate choice of low-glycemic foods. Include it in daily diet to witness a healthy dip in levels of blood sugars, glycosylated hemoglobin and lipid profile.
Lowers Bad Cholesterol:
Foxtail millet contains a good source of amino acids including Lecithin and Methionine which play a crucial level in decreasing cholesterol by reducing excess fat in the liver. The presence of Threonine prevents fatty liver, further decreasing the levels of bad cholesterol.
Triggers Weight Loss:
Tryptophan, an amino acid present in Foxtail millet in ample amounts is crucial for preventing hunger pangs. If you are one of those battling excessive fat around the belly, it’s time to increase the intake of Foxtail millet as it prevents accumulation of fatty substances in the body.
Happy gut is an indication of overall health. Digestive issues if not addressed early can turn chronic and may lead to severe constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome. It is an amazing choice of food for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Eat it with loads of vegetables to regulate bowel movements and to lose weight.
In these days and times of pandemic, nothing is more important than a robust immunity. A rich source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, Foxtail millet ups the stamina, keeps you stronger and builds immunity for fighting various infections lurking around. If you have fallen ill recently to any of the viral or bacterial infections, include it in daily diet for gaining the strength back.
Is Foxtail Millet Better Than Rice?
There is a lot of debate if rice and millets are the same when it comes to nutritional content, but rice is undoubtedly a still a staple in many households. Rice is consumed in many forms in India, not just in the original cooked form but as a breakfast item in the form of dosas and idlis. Several research suggest that rice is high on glycemic index and contributes greatly to high levels of diabetes and weight gain. Rice of course, is an instant source of energy and tastes better with many accompaniments.
Millets on the other hand are a group of gluten-free cereals witnessing a sort of resurgence in the recent years, all thanks to the awareness on embracing traditional foods. In some parts of Andhra Pradesh like Rayalaseema, Karnataka millets take precedence over rice and is consumed widely for its numerous health benefits.
Well, if you are wondering if you should be substituting rice completely with millets – the answer is no. Like in the case of food moderation is the key. Enjoy both rice and millets including Foxtail. Each ingredient has only best benefits to offer.
Is Foxtail Millet Same as Quinoa?
Though Foxtail Millet and Quinoa belong to the family of grains, but there is a lot of difference botanically. Quinoa is termed as pseudocereal which means it is harvested from a plant called Goosefoot and belongs to the family of spinach and beetroots.
However, just like Foxtail millet, Quinoa is also gluten-free and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids and loads of digestive fibre. If you are one of those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, both Foxtail millet and Quinoa are good dietary options
How to Soak and Cook Foxtail Millet?
One of the problems associated while cooking with millets is the stickiness. Many complain that these grains take a longer time to cook and do not turn fluffy if boiled in pressure cooker. And here is a fool proof method to cook Foxtail millet.
1 cup Foxtail millets
250 ml water
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp desi ghee
Wash millets thoroughly to clean all impurities like sand, small stones etc. Use a sieve while draining water out.
Soak it for 30 minutes. In a bowl, add water and bring it to a boil.
Add salt and ghee. Drain water completely and add soaked Foxtail millet.
Cook it for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. After some time, the millets get cooked completely and turn soft. Gently fluff it with a fork.
Eat it as a substitute to the rice or add to your desired dish.
There are number of ways in which we can consume foxtail millet in our menu as follows
1.foxtail millet pulao: It is made with precooked foxtail millet, combining with variety if vegetables like carrot, spinach, cauliflower, beans, broccoli etc.
2. foxtail millet sweet Pongal: It is made with moong dal, jaggery. little bit of ghee (clarified butter)
3. foxtail millet lemon rice: made in the similar way like lemon rice, tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger, green chilies, urad dal, Chana dal, turmeric powder and a hint of lemon juice.
4. foxtail upma: made with precooked foxtail millet and combining with as many vegetables as you want and garnishing it with coriander leaves.
5. foxtail dosa: made in combination with few other millets and fermenting it to extract maximum benefits like ordinary fermented dosa batter.
6. foxtail millet idlies: made using foxtail flour adding few vegetables and steaming it.
7.foxtail millet khichdi: made by combining pulses and variety of vegetables to the khichadi to further enjoy as wholesome nutritious meal.
7. millet thepla: used by combining foxtail millet flour, bajra flour, besan flour, whole wheat flour, fenugreek leaves and spices.
8. breakfast porridge: using cooked foxtail millet, plant based milk, unsweetened coco powder, cinnamon powder and garnishing with fruits and chia seeds.
9. foxtail millet bisibele
10. foxtail millet vegetable soup
11. foxtail millet badam halwa
12. foxtail millet cookies
13. foxtail millet ladoos
14. foxtail millet muffins
Foxtail millets are quite popular from the family of millets and need to be consumed in moderation. According to Ayurveda this millet should never cooked with milk as it can cause severe indigestion and diarrhea. If you are pregnant and including millets in your diet plan, check with your nutritionist if it agrees with you. Excessive intake of Foxtail millet can cause severe constipation too.
Foxtail millets are the second most grown millets in the world after Pearl millet. Rich in protein, dietary fibre, an array of vitamins and minerals, include these millets to control blood sugar, lose weight, boost immunity and protect heart health. According to Ayurveda, Foxtail millet increases vata dosha but balances doshas related to pitta, kapha and blood tissues. Unlike popular opinion that millets are not a delight to eat, one can whip up amazing recipes with these, to enjoy and lead a healthy lifestyle.