Panel Discussion: Resurgence Of Millets In My Plate

Last week, I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to be part of a panel discussion, titled ‘Resurgence Of Millets In My Plate’, by eminent personalities from the state of Karnataka. This discussion, organised by the Government of Karnataka’s Department of Agriculture in co-ordination with the Department of Home Science of the Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, was held at The Capitol on Raj Bhavan Road on December 7, 2018 .

The panel discussion was a lead-up to the next Organics & Millets International Trade Fair, which is scheduled between January 18 and 20, 2019, at the Bengaluru Palace. As always, the discussion opened up to me the immense world of millets, all that one can do with these wonder grains, in one’s own kitchen and at the country level.

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The event started with a welcome speech by Dr. K.G. Jagadeesha, IAS, Commissioner – Department of Agriculture. He spoke about the mammoth scale of the Organics & Millets International Trade Fair 2019, and of how the fair has already proved to be a great success in the past years.

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Dr. A. Sundaravalli, introducing the agenda of the panel discussion

Post this, Dr. A. Sundaravalli, Head of the Department of Home Science, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, spoke about the panelists and the agenda of the discussion, i.e. how to enable millets to make a come-back on the plates of the common man, after the ancient grains having been considered as ‘poor man’s food’ for so long. She spoke of how, considering the immense health benefits of millets, it is critical for them to start gaining a wider acceptance than they already are.

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The panel discussion started, moderated by Dr. Santha Maria, Dean, Faculty of Home Science, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.

Dr. Santha Maria, introducing the esteemed panelists to the audience

The esteemed panelists included:

  • Dr. Manjunath C.N., Director, Jayadeva Hospital
  • Dr. Mahesh D.M., Consultant Endocrinologist, Aster CMI and Medpoint Diabetes & Thyroid Clinic
  • Ms. Sheela Krishnaswamy, President, Indian Dietictic Association
  • Mr. Sihikahi Chandru, Actor, Producer & Director
  • Mr. Prashant Parameshwaran, Managing Director, Soulfull
  • Mr. Vilasbhargav, Managing Director, South Ruchis Square
  • Mr. Suresh Hinduja, CEO, Gourmet India.com
  • Mr. Ashish Kumar Ballal, Former Indian goalkeeper of Indian Hockey
  • Dr. Swarnalatha Chandran, Swarayu Wellness Clinic
The panelists, in the course of the discussion. From left to right: Ms. Swarnalatha Chandran, Dr. Mahesh D.M., Mr. Vilasbhargav, Mr. Suresh Hinduja, Dr. Santha Maria, Mr. Ashish Kumar Ballal, Mr. Prashant Parameswaran, Ms. Sheela Krishnaswamy, and Mr. Sihikahi Chandru

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Putting forth his views about the importance of using millets in today’s world, Dr. Manjunath stated that there has been a stark increase in the incidence of lifestyle diseases in India, in the last couple of decades, both among males and females. What is even more alarming is the age group among which the incidence of these diseases is on the rise – more and more people in their 20s and 30s are being affected by rising blood pressure and cholesterol as well as heart problems, which is something very serious. At this rate, the day is not far when India will be the ‘disease capital of the world’. There are several factors which are leading to this negative development, as per Dr. Manjunath – including improper food habits, sedentary lifestyles, improper work situations, high stress levels and rising air pollution. Millets can go a long way towards bringing this alarm-inducing situation under control, he strongly opined.

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Dr. Manjunath putting forth his views at the panel discussion

The primary prevention of most lifestyle disorders starts with food, Dr. Manjunath stated. A lot of these diseases that are prevalent among today’s Indian youth can be controlled by increasing the consumption of millets, as well as consuming more vegetables and fruits (at least the minimum recommended dietary requirement for an adult). Dr. Manjunath stated that awareness among people about the various health benefits of millets needs to increase further, which will in turn bring about a better acceptance of them.

He went on to appeal to the audience not to think that the consumption of millets will automatically resolve all of one’s health issues. Millets are not a panacea. They should be used in combination with other components in one’s diet, like fruits and vegetables, dairy products, fats, wheat and rice. Every food group is important, he said. A 60:40 combination of millets:other ingredients will go a long way towards making them more palatable to the general public, he stated.

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Dr. Mahesh then went on to further elaborate on the various benefits that the consumption of millets offers. He stated that millets are the only food that offer everything to the human body, from fat, protein and antioxidants to vitamins and minerals. They are of great help in exercising the gut, and ensure the slow release of sugars into one’s blood stream. Considering this, it is very important for millets to start gaining wider acceptance among the general public, he stated.

The panelists, engrossed in the discussion

Prevention is better than cure. To cut short lifestyle diseases before they occur, it is high time we start paying close attention to what kinds of foods we are putting into our systems, Dr. Mahesh stated. It is high time we started recognising the importance of these wonder grains called millets, and gave them pride of place on our dining tables, he added.

Dr. Mahesh also spoke about the criticality of inculcating good eating habits, millets included, among children and youth, which will go on to ensure that we grow up into healthier adults and a healthier nation. Educating them about healthy eating will go a long way towards increasing acceptance, he stated.

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Ms. Sheela Krishnaswamy went on to bust some common myths about the consumption of millets in India:

  • There seems to be a misconception among some Indians that eating a dark-coloured millet like ragi or finger millet will cause one’s skin to become dark. That is so not the case! Millets do not affect the colour of your skin, or that of your unborn child during pregnancy!
  • Millets are not a panacea for all diseases. Increasing the consumption of millets in one’s diet does not mean that all one’s ills will be cured.
  • Millets cannot replace everything else in your lunch or dinner plate. Your meals every day cannot be all-millet. A balanced diet, including good portion of all food groups, is more important. Moreover, millets might not be suitable in large proportions for certain people, such as those with digestive ailments.
  • Using millets in any proportion and in any way does not help. Using a small portion of millets in a dish, while the rest is made up of sugar or fat is not a healthy way to consume them. You don’t get the health benefits of the millet in your system, that way.
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Ms. Sheela Krishnaswamy putting forth her views about millets at the panel discussion

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Mr. Sihikahi Chandru spoke about how he started reading up about millets a while ago, when he heard about the numerous health benefits they possess. He was surprised to discover that millets are not some new-fangled marketing drama, but an age-old grain that has been in use in India since centuries. He spoke of how his grandparents and ancestors grew up regularly consuming millets, and lifestyle disorders never seemed to affect them. Further, he went on to speak about how, when he himself tried to inculcate millets in his daily diet, it took a while for his system to adjust to them. He urged the audience to give millets a chance, to give their bodies enough time to get used to them, to not give up on them too soon. Mr. Chandru also spoke about the need to cook millets in a way that is palatable to the general public, so as to improve their acceptance.

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Mr. Sihikahi Chandru, speaking at the panel discussion

In conclusion, Mr. Chandru stated that millets need to be made more affordable, so as to enable common men and women to consume more of them. The production, distribution and affordability of millets needs to be worked upon.

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Mr. Prashant Parameshwaran spoke about how his firm, Soulfull, is working towards making millets more palatable and acceptable to the kids of today and the younger generation. He went on to speak about how Soulfull is making millets easier to use, so that they can get wider acceptance by the general public.

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Mr. Parameshwaran also talked about how the onus of change (from a largely wheat- and rice-dominant diet to a millet-inclusive one) lies on several people, including doctors, media, teachers, bloggers, food critics and housewives. All of these stakeholders need to work towards this goal, for it to be successfully achieved.

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Mr. Vilasbhargav talked about increased awareness among his customers at South Ruchis Square, a fine-dining restaurant located in Bangalore, about the health benefits of millets. He spoke about how customers today are more willing to try out various dishes made using millets, and of how such dishes are getting a good response in his restaurant. There is scope to do a lot more using millets in the culinary world, he added.

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Mr. Suresh Hinduja spoke about the need to tackle the non-acceptance of millets among children and adults alike. It is critical to introduce millets to children early on, so they are more receptive of them at later stages in life, he rightly stated. Also, there is a need to educate adults about the many ways in which millets can help them lead a healthier life, he said, which enable them to accept the grains more readily.

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Mr. Suresh Hinduja, speaking at the panel discussion

Mr. Hinduja also re-emphasised the need to serve millets in a way that is more acceptable to the children and youth of today. Millet-based drinks, energy bars, chocolates, pancakes and snacks are good ways to introduce the younger generation to the wonder grain, he stated.

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Mr. Ashish Kumar Ballal talked about how the inclusion of millets is important for sportspeople and those are conscious about their health. Millets are a gluten-free food filled with nutrients, thus making for the perfect pre-game food. He spoke about how he began including millets like ragi and jowar in his own daily diet and that of his team, at the recommendation of doctors, and how that benefited them hugely.

Mr. Ashish Kumar Ballal addressing the audience at the panel discussion

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Dr. Swarnalatha spoke about how millets are loaded with health benefits, but might not be suitable for all types of personalities, all age groups, and all times of the day. For instance, she stated, the system of someone with a kapha-dominant personality would be more acceptable to millets rather than someone with a vata– or pitta-dominant personality. Millets take time to digest, which is why they should preferably be consumed earlier in the day, between 6 AM to 2 PM, she said. She also spoke of how what you consume the millets with affect what nutrients you absorb from them – for instance, cooking them with an acidic substance like lemon or tamarind helps in better absorption of the iron in them.

Dr. Swarnalatha addressing the audience, at the panel discussion

Dr. Swarnalatha went on to state that it would be wrong to say that millets cannot be consumed by goiterous people or those with thyroid issues. The consumption of millets only has a very small bearing on goiter and thyroid problems, she stated. It would be best to consult a qualified dietician or doctor for better clarity on these aspects, she added.

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The event concluded with the answering of audience questions by the panelists. This was followed by a vote of thanks to the panelists on behalf of the Department of Home Sciences, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.

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As always, there are several events planned to the run-up of the Organics & Millets Trade Fair 2019, including cooking contests, millet fairs, runs and more. Stay tuned! Also, don’t miss marking your calendars for the gala fair that is slated to happen in January 2019!

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I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #254. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

The Culinary Symposium Of Millets, With Shri Krishna Byre Gowda

It was an enriching and enlightening experience for me to be part of The Culinary Symposium On Millets, held recently at MS Ramaiah University, New BEL Road.

Dignitaries like Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture for State, Government of Karnataka; Karnataka State Agriculture Commissioner Shri Satheesh; Executive Chefs from The Oberoi, The Taj and a number of other hotels of great repute, representatives of eateries like SodaBottleOpenerWala and MTR as well as from food delivery services like FreshMenu, producers of millet-based foods, food critics and other well-known figures from the food scene in India, as well as select food bloggers.

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Left: Shri K Satheesh, Shri Krishna Byre Gowda and Mr. Ramaswamy Selvaraju (Executive Chef of Vivanta By Taj, Bangalore, present at the event; Right: Shri Krishna Byre Gowda making a point at the Symposium

The Symposium was a run-up to the Organics & Millets International Trade Fair 2018, which is to be held at the Bangalore Palace in January 2018. The event was a huge success in 2017, and it is expected to be even bigger and better in 2018!

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Left: Veterans from the hospitality industry in India, discussing their expectations and plans for the Organics & Millets International Trade Fair 2018; Right: Ms. Priya of MS Ramaiah University, who has made a significant contribution towards the millet cause, in co-ordination with the Government of Karnataka

The event served as a meeting point for various stakeholders to meet and discuss the road map to the very promising Organics & Millets International Trade Fair 2018. Restaurants, food bloggers, social media experts, home chefs, hotel management institutes, culinary studios, everyone has a role to play to make the upcoming event a success all over again, something that was discussed in great detail at the symposium.

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A discussion in progress at The Culinary Symposium On Millets. Dignitaries from the Government of Karnataka, food bloggers, experts from the Indian hospitality industry, representatives of various restaurants from Bangalore, and producers of packaged millet-based foods were all part of the discussion.

Some of the key points discussed were:

  1. What restaurants could do to educate patrons on the importance of consuming millets and how to gain better acceptance for them.
  2. Organising millet-based cooking competitions to encourage more people to cook with millets, especially homemakers.
  3. Organising workshops at various places to teach people how to cook using millets.
  4. Involving street carts and stalls in the millet cause, and encouraging them to use more millets in their offerings.
  5. Including millets in the curriculum at hotel management institutes.
  6. Introducing healthy millet-based foods in school and college canteens, as well as hospitals.
  7. Training of the staff at hotels in how to use millets in cooking.
  8. Ensuring a steady supply of various kinds of millets to restaurant kitchens.
  9. Spreading awareness about the benefits of consuming millets, in schools and colleges.
  10. Spreading the word about millets through Instagram and other social media networks, so that the campaign can reach the younger generation.

Another reason for the organisation of this Symposium was to showcase the huge variety of foods (traditional as well as contemporary, vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian) that can be prepared using millets. These dishes were all thoughtfully conceptualised and prepared by students and chefs of MS Ramaiah University.

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SOUP: Left: Some very delicious Ragi And Tomato Soup and Right: Sorghum And Chicken Soup, both presented at the Symposium; Centre: The pretty ladies who prepared these soups

I was surely awed by the sheer variety of millet-based dishes on display! Mind = Blown! I could see the other guests at the Symposium having the same awe-struck reaction on their faces, too. Of course, how could they not?!

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SALADS: Top left: My personal favourite dish at the Symposium, a sweet-sour-salty-crunchy-spicy-nutty salad made with baked millet sprouts and a lot of nuts; Below: The millet sprouts used in the salad and another presentation of the same beautiful salad; Top right: A salad made with ragi crisps and millet sprouts; Bottom right: A salad made with fruits and assorted millets

Along with the other guests, I sampled the dishes on offer – the vegetarian part of it, that is. Most of what I tried out was absolutely, finger-lickingly delicious!

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APPETISERS AND MAIN COURSE: Top left: Jowar Pasta in the making, along with jowar-based white sauce to go with it; Below: Stuffed Chicken made with millets and Kaalu Saaru, a gravy made with millets and green gram; Top right: A tasting portion of the Jowar Pasta; Bottom right: Sorghum Tacos

Drooling yet? No? 😦

Well, the desserts will make you drool for sure! Take a look at them!

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Left and centre: Jowar Jalebi in the making!; Right: The beautiful jowar jalebi served with rabdi
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Top left: Millet brownies; Below: Millet Fruit Tarts; Bottom Right: The bajra and jaggery halwa that I adored; Top: Lavang Latika made with sorghum (left) and Chocolate Millet Bars (right)

Mind you, this is just a small part of the millet feast that was on display at the Symposium – this is just for the purpose of representation; there was much more!

I hope you enjoyed the visuals! Do drop in a note, through the comments, to tell me what you thought of this post and the pics.

May this inspire all of us to do more with millets in the days to come! And, oh, don’t miss visiting the Organics & Millets International Trade Fair 2018!

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For more pictures from the event, check out my Facebook album here!

Introducing Purganics: For Eco-Friendly Menstrual Care And More

If you have been reading my blog regularly, you would know that, as a family, we are consciously working towards a more eco-friendly, simpler and healthier lifestyle, one little step at a time. We are constantly looking out for sustainable, chemical-free alternatives for various products we use for ourselves and for our home, that are made conscientiously.

I am all too aware of the loads of chemicals that go into the making of the sanitary pads I use, and have been looking out for a better alternative for quite some time now. So, I was super happy when I recently discovered Purganics, an organic cotton no-chemicals sanitary pad. They were kind enough to send across samples of their pads for an honest review, along with a bamboo toothbrush.

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The Purganics heavy and moderate flow sanitary pads and tampons, and the cotton bag they come with

My experience with Purganics Organic Cotton Sanitary Pads

What I loved:

~ These sanitary pads are made out of 100% good-quality organic cotton, sourced from around the world. I love the fact that organic cotton has less of a negative impact on the environment as opposed to the regular cotton.

~ They were super comfortable to use, a far cry from the skin-irritating plastic-like pads that are commonly commercially available today.

~ They are free of chlorine, plastics, synthetics, perfumes, super absorbent polymers (a harmful petroleum derivative that is commonly found in several commercially available sanitary pads), or chemicals of any kind.

~ They did not bunch up with use and, at the same time, were quite breathable. They did not stick to the skin, something I have experienced with most disposable sanitary pad brands.

~ They were soft, light and thin, with wings attached, and were quite easy to carry.

~ Absorbency was really good in case of both pads.

~ These pads come in various sizes, so there’s something for everyone – irrespective of whether you are a woman with moderate, heavy or very heavy flow. I tried out the ‘heavy flow’ and ‘moderate flow’ pads at different times in my menstrual cycle.

~ They are disposable, so there is no hassle of soaking and washing which comes with cloth sanitary pads. If, like me, you don’t think a menstrual cup is for you and are not comfortable with the processes of caring for a cloth sanitary pad, this is a great middle path.

~ They are biodegradable, and even the backing is made of plant-based material.

~ They come with a cute little cotton bag, which comes in handy to carry a couple of pads in your purse while stepping out of home.

The cons:

~ Priced at INR 399 for 10 Moderate Flow pads, INR 420 for 10 Heavy Flow pads, and INR 450 for 10 Super Plus Flow Pads, they are quite expensive. That is almost twice the cost of most commercially available disposable sanitary pads. I do understand how superior in quality and eco-friendliness these pads are, but I don’t think they are affordable for everyone. If you are the sort of person who wouldn’t mind shelling out some extra money for an eco-friendly, healthier pad, these are just great! There are no other cons that I can think of.

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Purganics bamboo toothbrush

My experience with Purganics Adult Soft Bamboo Toothbrush

What I loved:

~ Bamboo is completely bio-degradable. I love that by using a bamboo toothbrush, I reduce my plastic footprint and do not contribute to the ever-increasing pollution of oceans and teeming landfills. Also, even the packaging of this toothbrush is entirely bio-degradable.

~ The bristles are made of Dupont Nylon 6, a faster degradable form of nylon as compared to the other lower nylon grades. They are free of the toxin called BPA that is present in most commercial-grade toothbrushes. The nylon is used because there is simply no natural alternative to help create a toothbrush that you can use effectively for the dentist recommended 3 months’ time.

~ These toothbrushes are available in different sizes and softness levels – Soft and Medium for adults and Soft for kids. You can take your pick. I love that the brushes are available with different-coloured bristles, to make brushing fun.

~ The design of the handle makes it very comfortable to hold and use.

The cons:

~ After a couple of days’ usage, the Adult Soft bamboo toothbrush that I was using developed black spots on the handle, in spite of being kept open on a shelf in our bathroom. I am not sure what caused it, but it does make me slightly uncomfortable with the brushing.

~ I am very, very particular about the toothbrushes that I buy considering that I have very sensitive gums that bleed very easily. Though it was a Soft toothbrush that I tried out, the bristles were a tad harsh for me – they were softer than those of most commercial brands, but still a little hard for me. It would be great if a Super Soft toothbrush could be introduced, for people like me.

~ At INR 165 per toothbrush (both the Adult and Kid version), these are indeed expensive. That’s almost double the price of a good-quality Super Soft toothbrush, which I am not sure everyone would be ready to invest.

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If you have been looking out for better, healthier alternatives for your home and personal care, too, Purganics is definitely one brand that you should try out.

Other products: Apart from sanitary pads, tampons and bamboo toothbrushes, Purganics also offers panty liners.

Availability: The Purganics products can be purchased off their website, or from Amazon or Flipkart.

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I was sent free samples of the above-mentioned products to use and review honestly, and that is exactly what I have done. The views expressed herein are completely honest, entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing: Oddy Uniwraps Food Wrapping Paper, A Super Handy Kitchen Equipment

I’m always looking for healthier, more eco-friendly alternatives to the things we use around our home on a daily basis. So, when I was asked if I would like to try out a sample of Oddy Uniwraps, an organic food wrapping paper, I agreed immediately. And… I’m so loving it!

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Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper

Oddy Uniwraps food wrapping paper is the latest product introduced by Atul Paper Pvt. Ltd., a renowned player in stationery and paper products for the last 20 minutes. The firm sells several office stationery products under the brand name of Oddy (short for ‘on demand’).

What I love about Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper

  1. Though this product is termed as ‘food wrapping paper’, it is actually a multi-purpose paper, which serves several purposes other than just wrapping up food. I have been using it to line baking tins while making cakes, to pack food for the husband to take to work, and to line boxes of coriander and mint before placing them in the refrigerator. If you make chocolates at home, I think you could use this paper to wrap them too, rather than plastic wrappers. I love how versatile this product is, how handy it is in the kitchen.
  2. There’s no plastic or aluminium content in this paper, and it is apparently 100% organic. Studies have proved that aluminium foil, very commonly used in wrapping food, has several harmful effects. This food wrapping paper offers all of the convenience of aluminium foil, without any of its dangerous side effects.
  3. This product can be used as a substitute for cling film as well. Paper trumps any day over plastic cling wrap, right?
  4. I love the cutesy print on this paper. Call me pedantic, but using it surely cheers me up.
  5. This paper is completely bio-degradable. If you use it, you place a lesser burden on the environment as opposed to that when you use cling film or aluminium foil. Any little step we take in this direction is good, I believe – just imagine how much of an impact we can make on the environment if we start paying closer attention to such little things as the material our food is wrapped in.
  6. This product is entirely microwave-safe and can be used in OTG ovens up to a temperature of 220 degrees Celsius.
  7. This paper is food-grade certified. The ink used for the doodles on the paper is food-grade certified as well.
  8. Food wrapped in this paper stays fresher, I have noted, as against that wrapped in aluminium foil.
  9. I love that this paper is so easy to use. The roll that I received as a sample has an in-built cutter, so you don’t even have to go looking for a pair of scissors to cut it.
  10. I don’t use aluminium foil regularly, so I am not really aware of prices, but, I understand that this paper is less expensive.
  11. The quality of the paper is really good. You can make that out while you use it.

What could have been better?

As of now, I see that this paper is available in only this particular print. Cute as it is, it would be great to have a few more designs to choose from.

Price and availability

A 20-metre roll of Oddy Uniwraps’ food wrapping paper costs INR 199.

The product is available on Amazon.

In conclusion…

I really liked this product, its versatility, its eco-friendliness and its ease of use. It is definitely something I would like to buy, and would heartily recommend.

I was sent a sample of the product free of cost to test and review. This is not a paid review. The views expressed herein are entirely honest, and entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone.

 

 

 

Workshop On Millet Foods For Dieticians And Chefs, Day 2: How To Cook With Millets

If Day 1 of the Workshop On Millet Foods For Dieticians And Chefs was enlightening, Day 2 was even more so. Day 2 was when all participants couldn’t take their eyes off stage, when they watched goggle-eyed the magic being spun before them, riveted to their seats. Day 2 was as full of practical sessions as Day 1 was of technical ones, with a number of chefs coming up on stage to demonstrate all the delicacies that can be cooked using millets.

The point was to prove just how versatile millets are, how they can lend themselves to a variety of dishes, Indian and international, healthy and not-so-healthy, simple and five-star-menu worthy, sweet and savoury, vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Together, I think, the chefs more than proved this!

Here is an overview of Day 2 of the workshop, for your viewing and reading pleasure. I think I’ll mostly let the pictures of the food do the talking – that left all of us speechless, for sure!

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Day 2 began with Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, Honourable Minister of Agriculture for the state of Karnataka, addressing those present. In his speech, he recapped most of what was discussed on the first day – enunciating how exactly millets are good for you, for the farmers, and for the environment as well.

(Check out my detailed post about the key take-aways on Day 1!)

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Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, in his inaugural address on Day 2

Then, Dr. Bhaskarachary of the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), Hyderabad, came up on stage to talk about the role of millets in today’s society. He talked at length about how the inclusion of millets would go a long way towards creating a balanced diet, as opposed to the wheat- or rice-heavy diets that most people these days seem to use. He spoke of how the high nutritional value of millets is not something that we should miss out on, especially now, when lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are on the rise. Dr. Bhaskarachary also stressed on the role of chefs, dieticians, home cooks and food bloggers to spread the right information about millets, and to encourage more people to include them in their diets.

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Dr. Bhaskarachary addressing the participants of the workshop

After this, some heavy-duty action began on stage! It was the turn of chefs from all over Bangalore to showcase their delectable millet confections!

Chef Ramaswamy Selvaraju, Executive Chef of Vivanta By Taj, Bangalore, went first. He demonstrated how to make a beautiful Spinach-Stuffed Millet Ravioli With Primavera Sauce, as well as some Pan-Seared Chicken With Millet Stew And Sauternes Sauce and Smoked Chicken And Baby Pineapple Salad With Crispy Foxtail Millet.

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Left: Chef Selvaraju demonstrating his recipes; Right: Top – Spinach-Stuffed Millet Ravioli With Primavera Sauce, Centre – Pan-Seared Chicken With Millet Stew And Sauternes Sauce

Next, Ms. Vani Anamdas, Manager – Housing & Food Services, International Crops Research Institute For The Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, came up on stage. Her team demonstrated the making of Finger Millet Cake With Hot Garlic Sauce, Millet Manchurian, and Millet Kashmiri Kofta In Palak Gravy.

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Left: Ms. Vani Anamdas addressing the participants; Centre: Top – Finger Millet Cake With Hot Garlic Sauce, Bottom: Millet Manchurian With Gravy; Right: Top – Millet Kashmiri Kofta In Palak Gravy, Bottom – Dry Millet Manchurian

Ms. Anamdas’s team from ICRISAT also went on to demonstrate how to make Ragi Shots, Sorghum Stuffed Kulcha, Millet Waffles, Ragi Banana Bread, and Sorghum Flakes-Fried Chicken.

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Top left: Ms. Vani Anamdas’s team demonstrating millet-based recipes; Bottom left: Sorghum Flakes-Fried Chicken; Adjacent to bottom left: Ragi Banana Bread; Bottom right: Millet Waffle; Top of bottom right: Sorghum Stuffed Kulcha; Top right: Ragi Shots

Post this, Chef Nagarekha Palli of Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences (RUAS) came up on stage to demonstrate two more millet-based recipes – Foxtail Millet Crisps With Millet Sprouts and Smoked Kodo Millet Kabab With Yogurt Dip. She also demonstrated how to get millets to sprout beautifully into long, delicate, green shoots, over a period of four or five days.

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Left: Chef Nagarekha Palli demonstrating on stage; Centre: Foxtail Millet Crisps With Millet Sprouts; Right: Smoked Kodo Millet Kabab With Yogurt Dip

Chef Shyam Prasad of RUAS then came up on stage to show the audience how to make Millet Paella (yes, you read that right!) and Finger Millet Tacos.

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Left: Chef Shyam Prasad demonstrating his dishes; Centre: Millet Paella; Right: Finger Millet Tacos

Chef Shashi Sharma of RUAS then showed everyone the method of preparation of his Millet Paneer And Spinach Tikki and Millet Chicken Risotto.

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Left: Chef Shashi Sharma on stage; Centre: Millet Paneer And Spinach Tikki; Right: Millet Chicken Risotto

After this, Chef Sridhar Krishnan of RUAS demonstrated how to make two beautiful, beautiful, beautiful millet-based desserts – Greek Yogurt Cake With Citrus Glaze and Toffee Chocolate Tart.

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Left: Chef Sridhar Krishnan on stage; Centre: Greek Yogurt Cake With Citrus Glaze; Right: Toffee Chocolate Tart

Day 2 of the workshop concluded with a panel discussion, where participants could ask relevant questions to the experts on stage. The experts included Chef Shashi Sharma, Chef Shyam Kumar, Chef Sridhar Krishnan, food blogger Ruth D’Souza Prabhu of the Bangalore’s Restaurants fame,  Chef Nagarekha Palli, Chef Vani Anamdas, and the Joint Director of Agriculture, Mr. Jayaswamy.

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The experts on stage, for the panel discussion

Key take-aways from Day 2 of the workshop

~ Millets can be used to cook a huge variety of dishes, ranging from traditional Indian fare to the highly exotic. And millet-based food can look great, too!

~ Millets can be used to create healthy dishes as well as junk food like manchurian and calorie-heavy dishes like cakes and other desserts. The dishes demonstrated at the workshop were a mix of both these types. I admit some the dishes shown to us weren’t very healthy, but I guess the aim of the workshop was to demonstrate the vast range of possibilities. Also, as the experts stated, people would be more amenable to using millets if they saw them being used to make contemporary food that is tasty as well.

~ While cooking with millets, one needs to be aware of the inherent properties that each type possesses. Some types of millets, for instance, needs to be soaked for a while before cooking, to ensure that they are cooked well and not very chewy. This understanding comes with trial and error, experimenting with millets in your kitchen on a regular basis.

~ Baking with millets can be a tad tough, since they do not possess any gluten. Hence, it becomes essential to mix maida or whole wheat flour with them, to get a good-quality finished product.

~ When you substitute millets for rice in a dish well-known to you, there might be a change in the texture of the dish as it is known to you. This is something you must be ready for, when beginning to cook with millets.

Well, that was all about the beautiful millet workshop I attended. I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it will be of help to you.