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Also known as
Sorghum, White Millet
Jowar is one of the five top cereal crops in the world, along with wheat, oats, corn and barley. It originates in Africa, which continues to be the largest cultivator of this crop. Over time, the crop has spread to southern Asia and the Americas as well.
In traditional form, jowar is a towering plant over six feet (two metres) tall, although many varieties designed for cultivation are dwarf breeds, specially designed for easy harvest. It is extremely drought tolerant, making it an excellent choice for arid and dry areas. It adapts well to extreme weathers, and as a result it is a very stable source of nutrition.
Jowar is usually red and hard when ripe, and is dried after harvesting for longevity, as the grains are stored whole. In many parts of the world, it has traditionally been used in preparing various foods like porridge, unleavened bread, cookies, cakes, couscous and malted beverages. The simplest way to use jowar seeds is in the boiled form, as porridge with water or milk. The small, corneous grains are normally desired for this type of food.
How to select
• The jowar grains should be clean, dust free and without any infestations or foul odour.
• It is better to opt for organic grains, if possible.
• Jowar flour is usually made into chapatis or rotis and served with vegetables.
• Jowar is favoured by the gluten intolerant and is often cooked as porridge to be eaten alongside other foods.
• The grain is fairly neutral in flavour, and sometimes slightly sweet. This makes it suitable for a variety of dishes, because, like tofu, jowar absorbs flavours well. It can also be eaten plain.
• Jowar is also used around the world to brew beer.
How to store
• Store jowar in an airtight container and keep it in a cool and dry place.
• Jowar is commonly eaten with the hull, which retains the majority of the nutrients.
• The plant is very high in fibre and iron, with a fairly high protein level as well. This makes it well suited for use as a staple starch.
• Jowar is rich in antioxidants and all varieties are gluten-free, an attractive alternative for wheat allergy sufferers.