Nutritional and Technological Advancements in the Promotion of Ethnic and Novel Foods Using the Genetic Diversity of Minor Millets in India
An appropriate food processing technology stimulates agricultural production, ensures availability of quality products, value addition and helps in creating jobs and thus plays a crucial role in the economic progress and industrial development in the rural areas of India. The research on small or minor millet species was undertaken to explore the inherent technological opportunities for better utilization of resources in designing value added and sustainable foods in different sectors of food industries under the project “Value addition to nutritious millets to enhance food security and income of the rural poor” supported by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Rome, Italy. The traditional fermented breakfast food ‘paddu’ made with little millet has light and fluffy textural quality of cooked starch and is highly acceptable for taste and texture as compared to that made with rice. Small seeded little millet showed an advantage over rice due to several technological features like less water uptake, less soaking, grinding, and baking time and high product yield. Introduction of paddu in restaurants was acceptable to the consumers and was found sustainable in hotels. Indigenous papads such as ‘nere happala’ and ‘mudde happala’ prepared from the gelatinized mass of three days soaked millets, viz., ragi (finger millet), little millet and foxtail millet without addition of any chemical additive like ‘happla khara’ enhanced the characteristic aroma and sour taste with good expansion of fried papad. Papads were highly acceptable for all the sensory attributes. This natural fermented food which is harmless to health has cost effective preparation and, requires less laborious technology. When taken as a home based food industry by women entrepreneurs of Jekinakatti village of Haveri district in Karnataka, it was found profitable as compared to black gram dhal papad. Incorporation of 50% whole grain foxtail millet or ragi flour to standard recipe with change in proportion of fat yielded acceptable cookies of different types with good spreading quality, crispy texture and sweet taste. Muffins of foxtail millet and ragi were light, puffy and highly acceptable for taste. Incorporation of millet flour in cookies and muffins increased the protein, fibre, and micronutrient contents. Millet based products showed good potential to enter bakery industry especially in rural sector as a nutritious snack item for school children. Thus, ethnic millet papads, fermented breakfast food ‘paddu’ and bakery products have good scope for marketing and income generation through rural women entrepreneurs. Value addition to millets is a highly strategic intervention in the popularization of nutritionally rich crops. As this project has demonstrated, the success and sustainability of efforts in this domain is closely dependant upon an effective synergy among highly complementary disciplines, including conservation of plant genetic resources, crop improvement, agronomy and marketing.
Small millets, Food technology, Value addition, Ethnic and novel foods, Women empowerment.