6 Millet-Based Dishes in Mumbai That Prove Healthy is Not Boring

The Indian farmer is finally getting his due. Thanks to chefs and restaurateurs who are working on reviving ancient grains as part of their menus. It’s no wonder then that super grains such as millets are fast becoming 2018’s most celebrated ingredients.

If you find joy in healthy options while dining out, millets should be on your plate. Check out these ingenuous millet-based dishes that are available at these Mumbai restaurants.

Kale & Millet Soup at Smokehouse Deli

When chef Glyston Gracias was working on the healthy menu for Smokehouse Deli, he found inspiration in his family meals. “Growing up, rice and vegetable porridge was frequently enjoyed by my family. So, while making the millet-based menu, a porridge version of this grain had to be added,” says the city chef at Impresario Handmade Restaurants. The hearty Kale & Millet soup (Rs 240) is packed with crunchy millets and crispy kale, and promises to be super healthy. They also have a Millet Upma (Rs 280) on their menu, to which the chef says, “Upma was a common breakfast and go-to tiffin item during schooldays. All I had to do was create a gluten-free version, and millet was the best substitute.”

Barley & Jowar Salad at The Bombay Canteen

Although salads are not native to India’s culinary tradition, city restaurants are doing their bit by innovating them using whatever is easily available. The Bombay Canteen is a fine example and has been doing a fabulous job of promoting local and seasonal produce. Their Barley & Jowar salad (Rs 350) has jowar in three forms – green, boiled and puffed – and is paired with pomegranate seeds, cilantro stems and a spicy hung curd dressing. “Apart from the staple vegetables and fruits, Indian produce and grains seldom make it on to the menus of mainstream restaurants to the point where the current generation cannot even recognise them. Our aim was to showcase some of these forgotten ingredients,” says chef partner Thomas Zacharias. Even their Millet Khichdi (Rs 475) uses different kinds of Indian millets namely kodo, proso and foxtail with moong daal and spices, and is served with a variety of accompaniments.

Oat & Millet Pancakes at 212 All Good

When chef Paul Kinny was thinking of ways to introduce comfort foods in a cleaner fashion, he decided to eliminate refined sugar and flours from the menu. The results were fascinating. Take their Oat & Millet pancakes (Rs 275) for example. He got oat powder and foxtail millet flour in place of refined flour and palm jaggery replaced everyday sugar to make an equally-luscious caramel sauce. “Millets were eaten by our grandparents as they were rich in fibre, so what better way to provide the best morning nutrition than with these alternatives,” says the director culinary of Bellona Hospitality.


Bajra & Ricotta Gnudi at Toast & Tonic

Chef Chirag Makwana’s inspiration for the very popular Bajra & Ricotta Gnudi (Rs 325) came about from his prior work experiences in Italy. His attempt was to create a dish using local and seasonal produce, which is the underlying food philosophy of Toast & Tonic. “Bajra being a much healthier option, I decided to use it instead of refined flour. It also gave a local touch to the dish,” says the sous chef. A creamy, tangy and rich flavour combination makes it a much-loved dish here.


Ragi Masala Dhoklas with Roasted Anised Tomatoes at Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House

This pretty tea house in Bandra serves dhoklas with a twist. The ragi dhoklas (Rs 275 ++) here is substituted with finger millet instead of besan or gram flour, is steam cooked and then grilled to give the exterior a nice char. “We wanted to elevate the humble favourite by doing something different. Steaming followed by grilling makes the dhokla’s exterior crispy, which perfectly complements the fluffy interior,” says chef Gregory Bazire. A final touch is given by blending European flavours with a fennel étuvée (means a quick braise), capers, tomato concasse, sprouts and slow baked tomato with fennel seeds.

Farmer’s Staple at Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra

Experience farm life with Masala Library’s Farmers’ Staple (Rs 215) – a quintessentially rustic bajra roti stuffed with caramelised onions and served with white butter. Talking about the inspiration behind the dish chef Dhwani Agarwal says, “We thought of incorporating three elements that constitute a staple farmer’s meal that is bajra, onions and fresh butter.” The dish may remind you of your mother’s pyaaz ka paratha, and as a concept is modest yet soul satisfying. 

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