Botanical Name: Echinochloa frumentacea
Common Name: Barnyard millet, Sanwa millet, Samak rice
Family: Poaceae (Grass family)
Origin: Barnyard millet is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia.
Barnyard millet is a nutritious grain that offers several health benefits. Here is the nutritional composition of barnyard millet per 100 grams:
Calories: 360 kcal
Carbohydrates: 73.9 grams
Protein: 10.6 grams
Fat: 3.6 grams
Fiber: 6.7 grams
Calcium: 2.8 mg
Iron: 3.9 mg
Magnesium: 97 mg
Phosphorus: 290 mg
Potassium: 195 mg
Sodium: 1 mg
Zinc: 1.9 mg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 0.4 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 0.1 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 5.2 mg
The etymology of barnyard millet can be traced back to its common name, “barnyard.” The term “barnyard” refers to the common occurrence of this millet as a weed in barnyards and other disturbed areas, such as waste places, roadsides, and fields. The millet got this name because it was often found growing in such environments, alongside other crops.
The scientific name of the barnyard millet is Echinochloa crus-galli. The genus name, Echinochloa, comes from the Greek words “echinos,” meaning “hedgehog” or “spiny,” and “chloa,” meaning “grass.” This name refers to the plant’s characteristic spiky inflorescence or seed heads. The species name, crus-galli, is Latin and translates to “cock’s spur.” It is believed to refer to the resemblance of the inflorescence to a rooster’s spur.
Barnyard millet, scientifically known as Echinochloa esculenta, is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. It is one of the oldest cultivated millet species and has a long history of cultivation and consumption in various parts of the world.
The exact origin of barnyard millet is difficult to trace, as it has been cultivated for thousands of years and has spread across different regions. It is commonly grown in India, China, Nepal, Japan, Korea, and other parts of Asia. In India, barnyard millet is referred to as “Sanwa” or “Swank,” and it has been an important staple crop in some regions, particularly in the arid and hilly areas.
Historically, barnyard millet was cultivated as a subsistence crop due to its resilience and ability to grow in diverse agro-climatic conditions. It thrives in both lowlands and uplands and is known for its short growing season, which makes it suitable for regions with shorter summers.
In many traditional cultures, barnyard millet has been an integral part of the local diet. It is commonly used in various culinary preparations, including porridge, upma, dosa, khichdi, and as a rice substitute. Its small grain size and mild flavor make it versatile for cooking and blending with other ingredients.
Over the years, barnyard millet has gained recognition for its nutritional benefits and ability to grow in marginal agricultural land with low water requirements. It is considered a nutritious grain, rich in fiber, protein, and minerals such as iron and magnesium.
With the growing awareness of its health benefits and sustainable farming practices, barnyard millet has gained popularity not only in traditional cuisines but also among health-conscious individuals seeking alternative and gluten-free grains.
- Nutrient-Rich: Barnyard millet is rich in nutrients such as dietary fiber, protein, vitamins (including niacin, thiamine, and folic acid), and minerals (including iron, calcium, and magnesium). These nutrients contribute to overall health and well-being.
- Gluten-Free: Barnyard millet is naturally gluten-free, making it a suitable grain option for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. It can be used as an alternative to wheat or other gluten-containing grains in various recipes.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: The low glycemic index of barnyard millet indicates that it is digested and absorbed slowly, leading to a gradual and steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. This quality can help regulate blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those seeking to manage their blood sugar levels.
- Weight Management: The high fiber content in barnyard millet promotes satiety and helps control appetite, making it a good choice for individuals trying to manage their weight. It can keep you feeling fuller for longer periods, reducing the tendency to overeat.
- Heart Health: Barnyard millet contains beneficial compounds such as antioxidants and polyphenols that may contribute to heart health. These compounds help reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Digestive Health: The dietary fiber content in barnyard millet supports a healthy digestive system by promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. It can contribute to maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and overall digestive well-being.
- Bone Health: Barnyard millet is a good source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Adequate intake of these minerals can help prevent conditions like osteoporosis and maintain bone density.
- Boosts Energy: Being a good source of complex carbohydrates, barnyard millet provides sustained energy release. It can help fuel your body for daily activities and physical exertion.
- Quality: Choose barnyard millet that is clean, free from foreign matter, and visually appealing. Avoid millet with signs of discoloration, mold, or insect damage.
- Packaging: Check the packaging for any damage or tears. Ensure that it is properly sealed to maintain freshness. If buying in bulk, ensure that the storage containers are clean and airtight.
- Dry Environment: Store barnyard millet in a cool, dry place away from moisture and humidity. Exposure to moisture can lead to spoilage or the growth of mold. Avoid storing it near the stove, sink, or any other source of heat or moisture.
- Airtight Container: Transfer barnyard millet to an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag to protect it from air and moisture. This helps maintain its quality and prolongs its shelf life.
- Shelf Life: Barnyard millet, when stored properly, can typically be kept for up to one year. However, for optimal freshness, it is recommended to consume it within six months.
- Pest Prevention: To prevent infestation by pantry pests, such as insects or weevils, consider storing barnyard millet with a bay leaf or a small sachet of dried neem leaves, which act as natural deterrents.
- Check for Rancidity: Occasionally inspect the stored barnyard millet for any signs of rancidity, such as an off odor or a bitter taste. If you detect any unpleasant changes, it is advisable to discard the millet.
Barnyard Millet Recipes
1 cup barnyard millet, cooked
1 cup mixed vegetables (such as carrots, beans, bell peppers, and peas)
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2-3 green chilies, chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
- Heat oil in a pan or wok over medium heat.
- Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Let them splutter.
- Add grated ginger and chopped green chilies. Sauté for a minute.
- Add the mixed vegetables and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until they are slightly tender.
- Add turmeric powder and salt. Mix well.
- Add the cooked barnyard millet to the pan and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes, ensuring the millet is well coated with the spices and vegetables.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
- Serve the barnyard millet stir-fry hot as a wholesome and flavorful main dish.
1 cup barnyard millet
3 cups milk (or any plant-based milk for a vegan version)
1/4 cup jaggery (or sweetener of your choice)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 tablespoons chopped nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios)
2 tablespoons raisins
Saffron strands (optional) for garnish
- Rinse the barnyard millet under running water and soak it in water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.
- Add the soaked barnyard millet to the boiling milk and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once the millet is cooked and the mixture thickens, add jaggery and cardamom powder. Stir well to dissolve the jaggery.
- Continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes until the pudding reaches the desired consistency.
- In a separate small pan, heat a teaspoon of ghee or oil and roast the chopped nuts and raisins until they turn golden brown.
- Add the roasted nuts and raisins to the pudding and mix well.
- Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Garnish with saffron strands (if using).
- Serve the barnyard millet pudding warm or chilled as a delightful dessert option.