Ancient civilizations relied on millet as their staple crop, because they thrive in arid and semi arid conditions. Several varieties of millet developed concurrently, broomcorn and foxtail millet in China and pearl millet in the Sudan. While millet's ancestors panic grass and barnyard grass developed in Japan. From these areas, millet slowly spread around the world.
The ancient Egyptians used it to make bread, beer and a beer bread. The people of India make a flatbread called roti with millet. The people of Europe ate millet mixed with water or milk in a type of porridge. Other cultures also used millet to make wine or beer, the Chinese used millet to make wine as much as 8,000 to 9,000 years ago.
In North America millet is primarily used for bird seed, but for the gluten intolerant it is a wonderful addition to the kitchen pantry. Millet grains can be cooked in water or broth to make a dish like mashed potatoes or into a fragrant pilaf. At Epicurious.com you can find recipes for Curried Millet, Shiitake, and Corn Salad Restey and White Bean and Vegetable Cassoulet with Millet Crust. I chose to make a simple pilaf with flavors my children like to eat. Deliciously aromatic the pilaf was delightful, filling your mouth with the delicate flavors of sage, carrot, celery and garlic.
1 cup millet*
3 Tb olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped shallot
1 tsp sea salt
dash black pepper
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 cup chopped apple
1. In a 4 quart cooking pan, pour in the millet and olive oil. Lightly toast the millet seeds for 3 to 5 minutes. Stirring constantly so that the millet seeds don't burn.
2. Pour in the vegetable broth, the chopped vegetables, salt, pepper and sage. Bring the liquid to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 25 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed by the millet. Remove from the heat.
3. Dump in the chopped apple and stir. The heat of the pilaf will lightly cook the apple.
4. Allow the millet pilaf to cool before serving.
What did my family think of millet pilaf? Neither of my children liked the pilaf, but they didn't like quinoa pilaf the first time they tried it either. Now, quinoa is one of their favorite grain dishes. My husband and I thought it was delicious. In fact, my husband enjoyed it so much he finished off the left overs for breakfast the next day.
* Note: You can purchase gluten free millet from the Glutenfreemall.com or hulled millet from Bob's Red Mill. You can purchase gluten free millet flour from Bob's Red Mill.