Millets sweet pudding (Thinai and Varagu chakkara pongal)

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What are millets ? Millets are these tiny powerhouse grains also called as small grains because of their appearance compared to rice grains. We attempt to include more whole grains in our diet and millets offer a variety to choose from. In fact there are 6 known millet varieties readily available in stores these days. Some varieties we have tried and relished are proso, barnyard and kodo. Millets are not new grains, they were always part of healthy diets in ancient south India. But with the onset of processed foods, millets were fed only to the birds and its use was greatly reduced. In the recent years, healthy food habits are being resurrected and millets are being used again for their health benefits. Millets are called miracle grains, and can be compared to quinoa. 

By introducing millets in everyday diets and combining it with other wholesome lentils we can begin to relish traditional recipes once again. 

On the occasion of Pongal festival, I am presenting Millets sweet pudding, using a combination of foxtail and kodo millets also called Thinai and Varagu in Tamil. This dish is prepared in the InstantPot, so it is a very quick and easy recipe. The same dish can also be replicated using a pressure cooker. 

There are only 3 main ingredients for this dish – 

millets (1 cup of each type) 

dates (soaked in water and made into a puree) 

maple syrup 

Butter is mandatory for this dish to provide the creamy texture

Cardamom and saffron for the earthy flavors 

Raisins & cashew nuts for the garnish. 

Start by frying raisins and cashews in butter. I like to use butter instead of ghee, because the butter melts during the cooking process and infuses its aroma into the dish. Add the millets and fry to bring out the nutty flavor. Add the date paste, cardamom and saffron and cook with water. Once cooked, add the maple syrup and mix very well. That is all it takes. Serve with a drizzle of ghee on top. 

Delicious and Healthy Millets sweet pudding……Go for seconds with no guilt ! 

Millets sweet pudding recipe

Ingredients –

  • Foxtail millet (thinai) 1 cup 
  • Kodo millet (varagu)  1 cup
  • Dates 20
  • Maple syrup (warmed) 1 cup 
  • Raisins 2 tbsps
  • Cashewnuts (coarse broken) 2 tbsps
  • Cardamom (pounded to fine powder) 6 pods
  • Butter 2 tbsps 
  • Saffron strands (optional) 

Procedure –

  1. First soak the dates in 1 cup of warm water for 30 mins and puree it to a fine paste
  2. Start the InstantPot on SAUTE mode 
  3. Add the butter and fry raisins and cashews
  4. Add the pounded cardamom and fry
  5. Add the millets and fry until a nice aroma emanates – 3-4 mins 
  6. Add the dates puree, saffron and 4 cups of water, cook with pressure for 8 minutes
  7. Let it release pressure naturally
  8. Open the cooker carefully, add the warmed maple syrup and mix thoroughly to get a soft, creamy texture
  9. Millet sweet pudding is ready ! 

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