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Spiced Millet Salad

 Millet, a grass cereal, formed the bulk of the bird seed mix I fed my pet budgie when I was a kid. I never thought then it could be people food too.

Good palate memory, can be both a blessing and a curse but my first experience with millet thankfully was the latter. I was in Southern India, on a small group tour (just 7), wandering across  Tamil Nadu and Kerala on a foodie tour that incorporated cooking classes. Near Pondicherry we cooked, then ate in an eco health resort. I remember dismembering banana flowers to make salad, grating fresh coconut, grinding spices. More importantly I vividly remember the distinctively delicious vegetable biryani using millet in place of rice that I ate for lunch.

My first experiences cooking millet was a disaster. I discovered the hard way that it’s essential to buy hulled millet. The husks are tough cellulose and they’ll never soften, no matter how long they dance in a pot of boiling water. Once I found a reliable source of the hulled grain I was off and running.

Millet is interchangeble with rice and is a fabulous gluten free alternative to coucous. It can be simply boiled in water and served as an accompaniement, but I think the real secret to creating a successful millet dish is to toast the grain to golden nuttiness before simmering it in stock. This step helps to develop a nutty depth of flavour and ensures that the grains don’t clump together once cooked.

This spiced millet salad makes a terrific accompaniement to char grilled lamb.

Spiced Millet Salad

1 cup of hulled millet

2 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/2 cup currants

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped coriander leaf

2 cup coarsely shredded carrot

2 segments preserved lemon, flesh removed, rinsed and finely diced

2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

to cook the millet: 

Dry toast the millet over a medium heat in a lidded saucepan tossing frequently. When the millet is golden brown and has a delicius nutty aroma, carefully add the stock. Bring the stock to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer, cover the pan and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until all the moisture has evaporated. Turn off the heat, recover the pot and allow the millet to rest for 10 minutes. Fluff the grains with a fork then spread on a tray to cool.

to make the salad:

In a large bowl toss together the millet, carrots, currants, herbs, nuts, and preserved lemon.

Dress with the olive oil and lemon juice.

Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cover and set aside for the flavours to ripen for an hour.

Serve the millet salad at room temperature.

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

21 comments on “Spiced Millet Salad

  1. Beck @ Goldenpudding
    October 2, 2015

    Sounds lovely Sandra, I remember making a millet pilaf with fish years ago, will have to dig out the recipe, more recently I’ve been adding millet to bread/muffins etc as it adds a nice crunch, but will have to try this salad as I love the sounds of those Moroccan flavours!

    Like

  2. Saskia (1=2)
    October 1, 2015

    Have cooked with every grain (freekeh, farro, quinoa etc.) but never millet! I too remember feeding it to Cheeky, my childhood budgie 😉
    I must rectify that as your salad sounds fab. Love the Middle Eastern flavours.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      October 1, 2015

      Thanks Saskia, I love millet, it has great flavour and texture, you should find it at a middle eastern nut shop. Enjoy….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gather and Graze
    October 1, 2015

    This is a new ingredient for me Sandra… will have to keep an eye out for it in future (in it’s hulled version). Love that it has a nuttiness of flavour that comes through. Will try your tip for toasting it too… sounds like a great spring/summer accompaniment to grilled meat dishes!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      October 1, 2015

      Thanks Margot it’s a nice grain option and it carries other flavours well. A shop with middle eastern ingredients should have millet in stock. Enjoy…

      Like

  4. Francesca
    September 30, 2015

    Will try millet as the way you cook it makes it sound appealing. It was up there for a while as on of my no-no faddist foods, along with kale and quinoa: now that that that wave has receded a little, I am ready.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 30, 2015

      For me, kale and quinoa don’t rank very highly for flavour, millet on the other hand has both a delicious flavour and texture. Enjoy..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Conor Bofin
    September 30, 2015

    Hi Sandra,
    I was thinking of the budgie as I read the headline. Ours ended up inside a local cat. Such is life. Very interesting ingredient. I must keep an eye open for it.
    Best,
    Conor

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 30, 2015

      Poor budgie, at least you won’t have to share the millet should you find it. A store with middle eastern foods should have it in stock. BTW it amazing to see huge flocks of green budgies when you’re in the Aussie outback. They fly in unison much like starlings!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. cheergerm
    September 29, 2015

    I have used millet in soups as well and it’s an odd bird….(geddit..ha ha) but think I will definitely try toasting before use next time. This salad looks marvellous. I am inspired Mrs R. 😊

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 29, 2015

      Haha, love your pun!! I love subbing millet for couscous, but these flavours work brilliantly as a salad. I’m sure the Yak would go for this one!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy |Plus Ate Six
    September 29, 2015

    This made me smile! I’d never eaten millet until we moved to Shanghai and saw it in the supermarkets and on menus – I always associated it with bird food too. You cook it exactly the way I do now and with the same flavours too. It’s a great salad.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 29, 2015

      Thanks Nancy. Just curious, how do the Chinese prepare millet?

      Like

      • Nancy |Plus Ate Six
        October 10, 2015

        Sorry I kept meaning to come back! You know, I have no idea how they prepare millet but I’m going to look into it. I’ve seen it on a photo menu and the dish looked like a hotpot but that’s about it. And yet, every single supermarket and wet market sells it. I’ll let you know if I ever get to the bottom of it!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Michelle
    September 29, 2015

    That looks delicious. I always get on grain kicks, buy too much and then forget about them in the pantry. And this is just the thing to start me on another (without the waste).

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 29, 2015

      Thanks Michelle. I’d love to see how you interpret millet as a salad, you flavour combos are always enticing!

      Like

  9. Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
    September 29, 2015

    Special salad! I do love millet, but have never cooked it, so you warnings re. hulled (which I think is the same as “pearled”?) is definitely something to keep in mind. If I can’t find it here in Greece, I may substitute a coarse bulgar (not having to worry about gluten!) as the flavours of this recipe would translate very well. Like buttons are back!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 29, 2015

      Yes bulgar would be a great sub! I have many delicious memories of coarse bulgar recipes from Turkey, and in fact this flavour and ingredient combo may well have been a subconscious reinterpretation. Enjoy……

      Liked by 1 person

  10. malgay651
    September 29, 2015

    Like. have to do this as WordPress seems to have to turned likes off??

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 29, 2015

      Grrrr!! Thanks, all the right boxes ticked, hopefully the like button shows now!

      Like

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