It is thought that millet originated in North Africa, where it has been consumed since prehistoric times and is still a dietary staple. The African flatbread injera is made from ground millet, as is the Indian roti. This tiny, round grain has been used more as bird seed and livestock fodder in western Europe and North America, but is has recently gained popularity as an alternative to rice and other grains, especially for those restricted to gluten-free diets. Proso millet is the only millet grown as a grain crop in the United States. Other millets such as pearl millet are grown mainly for forage or pasture.
This tiny grain isn’t just “for the birds!” It is also an interesting alternative to more common grains in the human diet. It has a mildly sweet, nutlike flavor and is easily digested. Millet is quite versatile and can be steamed; try toasting in a dry skillet before steaming. Cooked millet makes excellent porridge or pilaf; or try as a stuffing or an addition to soups and green salads.
Millet does not contain gluten; however, note that this millet is processed on the same equipment on which wheat, barley and soybeans are processed, and handled in the same plant that handles sesame seeds and peanuts.