Indian cuisine and millets found a prominent place at the banquet lunch hosted by PM Modi for the leaders attending the third India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) Summit in Papua New Guinea on May 22.
PM Modi, along with his Papua New Guinea counterpart James Marape co-hosted a key summit between India and 14 Pacific island countries to boost bilateral ties. PM Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Pacific nation. The lunch included Khandvi, a popular delicacy from PM Modi’s home State of Gujarat; millet and vegetable soup made with Kodo millet and highland vegetables served with cornbread; malai kofta (cottage cheese and vegetable balls simmered in aromatic Indian rich kofta curry); Rajasthani ragi gatta curry, prepared with finger millet and gram flour dumplings cooked in sour gravy; vegetable Kolhapuri (a mix vegetable cooked with traditional Indian onion-tomato gravy) and dal panchmel (special lentils mix cooked in Mewar style).
Millet biryani, vegetable biryani made with nutrient-rich barnyard millet and nannu fulka, bread made with wheat flour were also served. The menu also included desserts and beverages like masala chaas, drink made with creamy yoghurt and Indian spices; paan kulfi, betel leaves flavoured milk-based Indian dessert and malpua with rabdi, Indian sweet pancake.
The inclusion of millets in the menu reflects the importance India gives to millets and the efforts made by the country to raise awareness for food security and nutrition.
PM Modi gave a new meaning and dimension to millets by terming it “Shree Anna.”
The United Nations General Assembly, at the initiative of India had, declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets in March 2021.
Millets are the first crops to be cultivated in Asia and Africa. Later it was adopted as an important food source for advanced civilisations around the world.
One of the oldest foods known to mankind, the small-seeded and hardy, these crops can grow on said lands with minimal inputs and are resilient to changes in climate.
Improved varieties, better shelf life, efficient processing and access to markets are all vital to strengthen the millet value chain. Therefore, an ideal solution for countries to increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains.
The aim of the United Nations to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets on India’s initiative is to elevate awareness of millets for food security and nutrition, enhance investment in R&D and extension, and inspire stakeholders towards improving production, productivity and quality of millets.
Due to their short growing season, millets can develop from seeds to ready-to-harvest crops in short periods. This characteristic of millets is of vital importance in thickly populated regions of the world. If stored properly, millets can keep well for two years or beyond.
The millets commonly grown in India include Jowar (sorghum), Bajra (pearl millet), Ragi (finger millet), Jhangora (barnyard millet), Barri (common millet), Kangni (foxtail/ Italian millet), Kodra (kodo millet) etc.
Millets are rich in proteins, antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients.
It helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and is gluten-free, an ideal staple diet choice for people suffering from celiac disease. It has a low glycaemic index, making it a perfect choice for daily consumption for people affected by diabetes and related problems.
(with inputs from ANI)