My mum cooks millets a bit differently. She has always toasted the millet first before splashing in water or stock and letting it cook gently covered for 15 minutes till fluffy. Then she’ll take the pan off the heat and let the millet soak up any remaining water by way of the trapped steam which will lead to a fluffier millet when forked through. She applies the same technique for quinoa too, and it surprisingly works.
I think we haven’t fully explored the potential of using millet as a blank canvas, and that’s something I wanted to actively do this year. I’ve paired foxtail millet with sweet and sour bhindi (okra) and topped this bowl with preserved lemons, chopped dates, nuts and herbs. It’s like a salad, which is to say that it’s accidentally great for you, but it doesn’t compromise when it comes to flavour, and for me, that’s what I’m always looking for.
Millet Bowl With Roasted Bhindi, Preserved Lemon and Dates
Yield 2 servings
Grain bowls like these can surprise you. They’re big on flavour, and perfect for a weekday supper. If you’re looking to make this non-vegetarian, add strips of smoked salmon to this bowl.
Foxtail millet 1/2 cup
Water 1 cup (or use stock)
Salt 1/2 tsp
Okra (Bhindi) 250g, trimmed and cut roughly
Vegetable oil 1 tbsp
Garlic 2 cloves, bashed in and chopped
Green chilli 1, cut lengthwise and finely chopped
Honey 1 tsp
Lime juice 1 tsp, plus more for finishing
Coriander 1 tbsp, freshly chopped
Salt and pepper
Preserved lemon 1, flesh scooped out and discarded
Dates 5, deseeded
Almonds 25g, chopped roughly
Greek Yoghurt for serving
You want to start by cooking the millet first. Lightly toast the foxtail millet in a saucepan with a lid minus any oil until the millet starts to smell nutty. Keep an eye on the heat and regulate as necessary because you don’t want the millet to burn. When the millet smells nutty, splash int he water, plus the salt and increase the heat so that the water and the millets come up to a boil.
Once the millet and the water are boiling, turn the heat down to low, put the lid on and let the millet cook in the water for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes are up, take the pan off the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes before fluffing it up with a fork.
In a cast iron skillet or a frying pan, heat the vegetable oil and once hot, add the bashed in and chopped garlic cloves and the chopped chilli. Saute for a minute before turning the heat to a medium and add the okra in. Cook the okra, tossing ever so often until the okra looks scorched in places but has softened nicely. You can taste one to check how it is coming along. Add the salt and pepper, followed by the honey and lime juice and toss the okra to coat everything well. Taste to adjust.
Add the okra to a bowl with the cooked foxtail millet. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander leaves. Finely slice the skin of the preserved lemon and add these strips to the bowl followed by the dates which you can also roughly chop into bite-sized pieces. Finish with a final spritz of lime juice, a sprinkle of chopped almonds and a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt in the bowls. Serve.