As i go about struggling, failing and discovering how to cook this stubborn and tasty Foxtail millet, it got me thinking about my home state Telangana.
One side of my family comes from this arid land Telangana and it’s only recently I have discovered and learnt a bit more about this culturally diverse region.
Until the agitation and formation of a separate state, like many others, I felt cheated that we were being divided. From a united Andhra Pradesh, I felt it was so unfair to divide because a couple of politicians wanted power, but it was so much more than that.
The formation of Telangana as a separate state was always in the anvil after the independence of India in 1947, when the Nizam surrendered to the armed Indian forces to what was before a Nizam State and was promised a separate state.
But days went to months to years and it remained just that, a dream.
Looking back, there was no adequate representation nor importance given to it’s regions by any head that ruled over undivided Andhra Pradesh.
India as a country works based on communities and castes and regions and no matter how much we ignore or hate it, it exists.
As a result, the whole region got neglected. Call it bad governance, call it bad representation but yes, the region that has so much diversity started dying, slowly..
Whether it was in it’s language, customs, traditions, festivals, literature, arts or cuisine, there no longer an identity to it as the Andhra wave swept over the region economically, financially and culturally.
Sankranti- the harvest festival of the Andhras became the official festival of the state even though the people of the region didn’t celebrate it and that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Urdu – the beautiful language endorsed by the Nizams and used mandatory as a language in universities and Colleges became obliterated. There were no more Shaayaris – poem recitals, no more Qawwalis – songs praising the lord or songs of love and separation.
And coming to my favorite topic – Food! Telangana’s food, its cuisine, cooking and traditions were completely decimated . The millet rich region that could provide an alternative to rice was smashed away. Considered a poor man’s food, the entire cuisine was gone except in a few Telangana households.
But with the formation of the state of Telangana, came a fresh lease of life slowly but surely..
Last Year’s Hyderabad Literary Book Festival saw the resurgence of Urdu Writers, poets, Dalit Literature which was not shown before.
The festival of Bonalu – flower festival was declared the official festival of the state.
With regards to food, I saw millets back in stores, selectively but it was happening.
Foxtail, Proso, Kodo, Pearl millets. Organic stores, co-operatives were getting them back onto shelves. Slowly, cookbooks started coming in, as to how to cook this elusive grain!
Rice being a considered a superior social status symbol and also people getting used to eating it, it does take some time to adapt to this humble millet.
Seemingly small, these delicious millets are packed with protein, high fibre that you won’t find in rice! Light, delicious, easy to cook once you follow the instructions, it’s like finding a veritable gold mine!
As I set about experimenting with millets, there was failure and frustration many a times, more so because I had no information on how to cook them.
Checking the internet was in vain except a couple of articles, because if you searched the net for Telangana, there was virtually nothing. Andhra cuisine dominates everything.
So today, I took upon that task of making Foxtail Millet as opposed to the usual rice. Soaked it for two hours as instructed and cooked in an open vessel and Viola! it was ready in 20 minutes!
And the taste? Just Yummy! Soft,light, highly digestive and going well with my Rasam and Beetroot fry! With this, I became an official convert to Millets 🙂
In fact, a way better alternative to the very expensive Quinoa that the world is going ga ga about! This is cheaper, easier to make and very good for weight watchers!
So next time you are going to your favorite Organic/Health food Stores, watch out for that little packet that’s probably sitting at a corner of the display counter. Take it, try it and it may change your perspective!