Since the moment Anahita N. Dhondy—Chef Partner at SodaBottleOpenerWala, Cyber Hub Gurgaon in India—located the benefits of millets, she has been devoted to advocating for these traditional grains. “It is so important,” Dhondy says to Food Tank. “[Traditional grains] are desirable for yourself, exact for farmers, and most significantly, correct for the planet. You don’t want [agricultural] regions to be absolutely barren. And those plants truly put nutrients back into the soil.”
Traditionally, Indians have fed on millets as pilau, porridge, and bread. In recent years, although millets have been considered “now not cool enough as a factor,” in step with Dhondy. Millets take longer to prepare dinner than other grains, and getting ready for a traditional dish can frequently be a long and tedious system.
“Now the wide variety of pounds of millets that are produced has gone down extraordinarily because human beings aren’t cooking with it anymore,” Dhondy tells Food Tank. “We have sort of lost contact with these components.”
“I try to make [cooking with traditional grains] a touch less difficult because I realize human beings don’t have as tons time than they did in advance,” Dhondy says. She tries to increase recipes that are relatable for younger audiences and easy to put together. She chefs a couscous-like millet salad and millet and okra salad: some of her favored recipes.
Amaranth and mango halva, another one of her favorites, seems on her menu while mango is in season. “There are lots you may mess around with,” Dhondy says. “When [people] can flavor and attempt it [in the restaurant], then they can pass back and create those dishes at home, or they can buy components.”
For Dhondy, millets provide extra taste, texture, and nutrition to recipes. For example, she transforms Dal Chawal, an everyday Indian dish, using changing rice with millet, then spiced with cumin and peas like a pilau, and served with lentils. “I think about how I can reduce the amount of subtle [ingredients] and use millets in place of it,” she explains. Dhondy additionally provides extra crispness of deep-fried millet grains on the top of her salads. The aim is “to make sure that [people] get a touch little bit of nutrients that [they] are possibly lacking out on.”
In 2018, Dhondy met Joanna Kane-Potaka—Assistant Director-General, External Relations on the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)—at the EAT Forum in Stockholm, Sweden. “I got to recognize that we were advocating the identical aspect,” Dhondy says. “And it’s no longer handiest millets. They are doing lots of paintings with clever food.”
Smart foods are fairly nutritious and climate-resilient, and these developments permit them to deal with problems associated with negative food regimens, poverty, and weather change. Through its Smart Food initiative, ICRISAT encourages farmers and clients to grow and consume these weather-smart plants, including millets, sorghum, pigeon pea, and groundnut in African countries and India.
In collaboration with exceptional chefs, ICRISAT creates schooling programs, and TV indicates to train purchasers, producing extra interest in smart meals. Since meeting Kane-Potaka on the EAT forum, Dhondy has participated in ICRISAT events and the Culinary Challenge, a food display in which college students cooked the usage of millets in innovative ways.
As a panelist, Dhondy had a danger to talk approximately millets at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in October 2018. “It became a huge second for me unquestionably as a chef to be speakme approximately this,” Dhondy says to Food Tank. “I think a month later, inside the newspaper, I read that 2023 is the 12 months of millet. I changed into ecstatic. There goes to be a lot to talk about approximately it.”