Before maize and cornmeal were introduced to Romania, the main grain in our diet, alongside wheat, was millet. Even today, we use it as an alternative to rice or potato dishes, and I like to make a filling of millet with mushrooms to stuff cabbage leaves with.
The flavour is similar to corn and cous cous, but nuttier and with more depth. Nutrition wise, people say it is higher in fibre and vitamins than wheat or rice, and also more ecologically farmed, requiring less resources or protection from disease. So it’s a more natural ingredient.
If you use it instead of cous cous, quinoa, rice or mash potatoes, you will have a delicious side dish that will introduce a bit of variety to your daily diet. It doesn’t take long to cook and it is a joy to eat, and you can even prepare it like a breakfast porridge.
For this millet pilaf, you will need:
1 onion – roughly chopped
350ml organic vegetable stock
2 bell peppers – diced
25g grated cheese (I used Cheddar)
Fresh oregano – as much as you like
Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with a thin layer of oil and heat it well. Cook the onion on medium heat for 10 minutes then add the millet and fry for another 5 minutes. Add 250ml of stock and reduce the heat to low. Keep an eye on it to see when or if it needs more liquid. I prefer mine quite dry but at home, especially when it’s a pilaf, people like it more loose in texture.
Cook it until the millet grains are almost soft. Now stir in the peppers and cook for a further 5 minutes. In this way they will maintain both the flavour and texture. Take the pan off the heat and wait for a couple of moments, then add the butter and combine everything very well. Serve with grated cheese and fresh oregano on top.