Not so long ago, when rice was still reigning the power as a superhero among foods – there were another bunch of food items that made a quite comeback into our kitchens. Millets, as they are collectively known were in fact, nothing new for us Indians but these tiny grains which went missing for over 4 decades from our kitchen shelves, not only made a grand entrance, but also reclaimed and cemented a spot – all thanks to mindful eaters and nutritionists with a conservative approach towards food.Also Read: 5 Best Reasons Why You Should Include Millets In Daily Diet
What if we told you that in the recent years, any topic revolving around the word ‘millets’ garnered more attention and triggered an instant discussion than Bollywood gossip or politics, would that be an exaggeration? An absolute no! The word Millets is a perennial topic and all of us need a morsel of either Foxtail Millet, Finger Millet, Pearl Millet, Buckwheat or Little Millet in regular diet for a healthy life.
Well, millets are an extensive topic, yet in this article, we will tell all you need to know about Pearl Millet or Bajra, perhaps the most famous and widely available one among the lot.
Known as Bajra in Hindi and Bengali, Sajjalu in Telugu, Kambu in Tamil and Malayalam, Sajje in Kannada, Bajri in Gujarati – Pearl Millet goes with the scientific name Cenchrus americanus and is a world’s widely grown millet in India and West Africa. It is also popularly known as African Millet or Spiked Millet in various parts of the world. According to archaeobotanical researchers, the cultivation of Bajra dates back to 2000 BC and was first cultivated in Hallur district of Karnataka.
Today, Rajasthan is the top producer of Bajra, as this unique crop usually cultivated during summers can withstand harsh climate, drought, low soil fertility and can yield good harvest even in the lands with low salinity and higher pH. Though Bajra has been a culinary staple for thousands of years, it became greatly popular in the recent years, owing to its high nutritional value.
Bajra In Ayurveda:
Well, consumption of bajra is as ancient as our traditional medicine Ayurveda and found its mention in the medicinal texts like ‘Nali’ under the topic Trunadhanya or Kudhanyavarga. Surprisingly, Ayurvedic texts describe Millets as Kutsitadhanya means unappetizing or not great to taste but praise Bajra for its gluten free properties and for being a powerhouse of various vitamins, protein and fibre.
Ayurveda describes Bajra as sweet to taste which turns pungent after digestion, dry and hot in nature. Traditional doctors prescribe including Bajra in daily diet for balancing pitta, kapha doshas. The hot potency or virya nature of this cereal grain is praised for numerous health benefits.
Bajra Nutrition Facts Amount: 1 cupWeight: 200 g
Nutrients Amount ( gram)
Proteins 22 g
Water 17.3 g
Total Calories 756 kcal
Total Carbohydrates 146
Dietary Fiber 17 g
Total Fat 8.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.3 g
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 236 mg
Omega-6 Fatty Acids 4 g
Vitamin E 100 mcg
Vitamin K 1.8 mcg
Thiamine 842 mcg
Riboflavin 580 mcg
Niacin 9.4 mg
Vitamin B6 768 mcg
Foliate 170 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 1.7 mg
Calcium 16 mg
Iron 6 mg
Magnesium 228 mg
Phosphorus 570 mg
Potassium 390 mg
Sodium 10 mg
Zinc 3.4 mg
Copper 1.5 mg
Manganese 3.3 mg
Selenium 5.4 mcg
Pearl Millet has about 378 calories per 100 gm of weight
Health Benefits Of Bajra
Prevents Type 2 Diabetes:
Diabetes is a chronic condition that is affecting millions around the world. Sudden spike of sugar levels is a cause of concern and dietary habits play a pivotal role in controlling blood glucose. Bajra being an amazing combination of good carbs along with ample amounts of dietary fibre makes an ideal diet for those suffering from diabetes. If you are a pre-diabetic or if this chronic condition runs in the family, putting you at higher risk, consume Bajra at least thrice a week for providing your body with the benefit of slowly digestible starch which can regulate glucose and to also lower the risk of this lifestyle disorder.
Make it a practice to eat Bajra roti mixed with methi or fenugreek powder or leaves at least twice a week, to witness better results.
Aids In Weight Loss:
Being overweight comes with various health problems and if you are looking forward to shedding those extra fat, Pearl Millet should top your food choices. Rich in protein, Bajra helps in building, strengthening the muscles and repairs tissue. It is an ideal food choice for the vegetarians who want to cut down on carb intake.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome:
PCOS is a common problem affecting women of all age groups right from teenagers to those in menopause. This hormonal disorder can not only play a havoc with your health but also interferes with mood, causing severe fatigue, leading to unwanted hair growth. Besides medication, losing weight, strict dietary control aid in overcoming this condition and Bajra is one such food source that can provide ample help. Loaded with iron and fibre, Pearl Millet cuts down on the visceral fat – the type of fat around abdominal region, thus regulating menstrual cycle and preventing other associated lifestyle disorders.
Heart is a vital organ and a regulated diet helps it to function at the optimum level. Bajra is a powerhouse of magnesium and potassium which plays a crucial role in dilating blood vessels facilitating better blood circulation. Regular intake of Pearl Millet aids in reducing bad or LDL cholesterol thus preventing blocks in the arteries, as this wonder millet is a rich source of Omega – 3 fatty acids, plant lignans.
Healthy gut is an indication of overall health and Bajra aids in achieving good digestion and in preventing constipation. Being a gluten-free cereal, it is ideal for those suffering from celiac disease. If you are battling constipation, consume bajra regularly as the insoluble fibre in it adds bulk to the stool and regulates bowel movements.
Pearl Millet is a mix of amazing components and antioxidants including phenols, tannins and phytic acid which can prevent stroke, cardiovascular problems and various types of cancer. The catechins, quercetin in Bajra cleanse liver, kidney and detoxify the body from within besides promoting beautiful skin.
Boosts Lung Power:
Bajra is an ideal winter food, especially for those suffering from asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. The anti-inflammatory properties in Pearl Millet and the presence of Omega-3 oils reduce swelling, clear mucous and aid in proper breathing.
Bajra falls into the category of alkaline foods, which means it is an ideal choice of food for fighting acidity. Building up of gases can lead to various other complications like severe discomfort in the chest, burning sensation in the stomach and oesophagus. Acidity can be dealt by following strict diet rules like consuming bland foods, eating on time. Bajra mixed with vegetables reduces acidity considerably.
If you are pregnant, Pearl Millet is your must-have cereal, thanks to its rich presence of Vitamin B9 also known as folic acid. Folate is a crucial for forming DNA and RNA and is key for producing red blood cells, a major factor that can define the growth rate of the foetus in the pregnancy.
If you are above 30 and already experiencing joint pains, get Bajra on to your diet list. This phosphorous rich millet along with calcium strengthens bones, prevents joint pains and also averts the risk of chronic conditions like osteoporosis.
Night blindness is a chronic condition and could be hereditary in few cases. Poor eyesight in children and adults can cause serious complications and Bajra, loaded with vitamin A and zinc prevents night blindness, provides better eyesight and reduces other vision related problems like macular degeneration or presbyopia.
Do you suddenly feel tired and wondering what could be wrong? Sudden fatigue is often a symbol of poor metabolism and the body needs to be fuelled in the form of food for that instant energy. Bajra being rich in Vitamin B1 helps in better absorption of the nutrients in to the body by converting it into Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP.
Skin and Hair Health:
Pearl Millet is a powerhouse of various nutrients that can contribute highly towards ravishing skin and healthy hair growth. All thanks to the presence of protein, fibre, iron, zinc, folate and niacin, this super food strengthens hair follicles, makes the skin glow from within.
How To Cook Bajra/Pearl Millet:
Bajra is a hard to touch millet and needs a lot of soaking before cooking. It is a general belief that it is very tough to cook but with these simple tips, you can cut down on cooking time without compromising on the nutrients. Furthermore, soaking reduces ‘phytic-acid’, an anti-nutrient on the outer surface of the grain for better absorption of the nutrients into the body.
Steps To Cook Bajra:
If you are using it as a whole grain, soak it overnight or up to 8 hours
Always use a pressure cooker to save on the cooking time. Add enough water and cook for 4 to 5 whistles to get sticky rice consistency
Another popular method is to ground Bajra into a fine powder or atta and make rotis, chapatis with the flour.
How To Make Bajra Flour At Home:
250 grams Bajra or Pearl Millet
Dry roast bajra in a pan till it turns golden brown and slightly aromatic
Cool it down completely, before grinding it in a mixer jar
If you find it coarse, sieve the flour and store it in an air-tight container
In case, if you are planning to store more than a kilogram, we suggest getting it grinded in a flourmill.
The most popular dish made from Pearl Millet is Bajra roti. It is a staple dish in states like Gujarat and Rajasthan and is available round-the-year. However, it takes a little skill to make this roti as it is gluten-free. You need to have deft fingers while tapping it round and thin but trust us, the taste and nutrition you derive are worth it.
Even today, this roti is made on clay stoves on open flame for that authentic state. These thickly rolled rotis are served with white butter and a vegetarian side dish, onions and garlic chutney. Make sure the dough is smooth without cracks before rolling it and do not forget to apply water on palms while working on them.
200 grams fine bajra flour
100 grams whole wheat flour for rolling and dusting
Salt to taste
In a bowl, mix bajra flour and whole wheat flour, add salt, mix well
Add warm water and knead well it turns smooth
Take a lemon size ball and roll it on a flat surface with a rolling pin. Dust with whole wheat flour if needed
If you are not used to making Bajra roti, do not try making it with just palms as it may break into pieces
On a hot tawa, place the roti gently and cook it on both sides till the blisters appear and roti turns brown in colour
Serve hot with ghee, onion pieces, and vegetable curry
Pearl Millet flour is an excellent source of protein. Each roti will give you up to 1.6 grams of protein. It is also a rich source of various vitamins and minerals besides high fibre content, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous. Whole wheat flour provides carbs and fibre in ample amounts. It keeps you satiated for longer hours and kills midday hunger pangs.
Bajre Ki Meethi Poori:
Millets are good for health but if you are planning to make it a part of kid’s diet plan, try making desi desserts with this amazing flour. Bajre Ki Meethi Poori is a traditional recipe which can be relished even by the diabetics and is a winter recipe
250 grams Bajra flour
150 grams jaggery, finely chopped
2 tsp white till/sesame seeds
Water for kneading
Oil for deep frying
In a bowl, dissolve jaggery powder and leave it for 5 minutes to melt completely
In another bowl, take bajra flour, sesame seeds and mix well. Add jaggery water
Knead it for at least 10 minutes till it turns soft
Take a small ball and pat it gently, flattening it between the palms
In a kadai, heat oil on medium flame and fry these sweet pooris till they turn gold in colour in batches
Bajre Ki Meethi Poori can be stored up to a week
Bajra is an amazing source of vitamins, minerals, iron, folate, zinc and magnesium. Since, jaggery is added in generous amounts into this sweet delicacy it can be relished by diabetics too. Jaggery is rich in iron and can beat anaemia. Owing to its high potassium content it aids in balancing electrolytes, boosts metabolism and aids in weight loss. Sesame seeds provide body with healthy fats, minerals, fibre, Vitamin B, antioxidants that can boost bone health and lower cholesterol.
Though Bajra or Pearl Millet is one of the highly consumed foods in our country, it comes with its share of side effects. If you are looking forward to adding this millet to your daily diet plan, there are few things you need to be mindful about. Pearl millet is not recommended for those suffering from thyroid gland dysfunction as it can further compromise the functioning of this butterfly shaped gland and can lead to various metabolic disorders. The oxalates in Bajra, if not cooked properly can result in kidney stones and the phytic acid may interfere with the absorption of food in the gut. So, if you have any of these health issues, do talk to your doctor or nutritionist before consuming Pearl millet.
Bajra or Pearl Millet is a summer crop that is grown extensively in Rajasthan in India and few African countries. These centuries old millet has gained immense popularity in the last few years, all thanks to its gluten-free properties besides presence of various vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Bajra is extremely helpful in controlling sudden blood sugar spikes, preventing chronic conditions and is a heart healthy food. Consume it in winters to boost your lung power as the anti-inflammatory properties in this versatile grain can ease breathing. Bajra roti, Bajre ki Meethi Poori are few famous desi delicacies that are available in the Northern part of India.However, if you are already suffering from thyroid doctors recommend against eating Pearl millet as it further compromise the function of gland. If not soaked for longer hours and cooked properly it can cause digestive issues.