The Indian Express | Delhi Confidential: Hardeep Singh Puri takes part in novel demonstration to push for millets, clean energy

Feb 07,2023

In a unique and novel initiative that merged the government's push for millets and clean energy, a millet 'khichdi' was cooked on an indoor solar cooktop in a record seven minutes, and the result, according to Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, was "delicious".

In the novel demonstration during the government's India Energy Week in Bengaluru on Tuesday, celebrity chef Ranveer Brar cooked a barnyard millet 'khichdi' on the solar cooktop developed by Indian Oil, according to a media report.

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri, who took part in the demonstration, was all praises for the final dish and said that the end result was a "delicious khichdi". Brar, meanwhile, added that this demonstration has also busted the myth that millets take too long to cook as the dish was ready in seven minutes, which was "faster than pasta", the report added.

Solar cooktop gets a thumbs up too The Government of India has been pushing solar cooktop as a viable cooking option and expects a sweeping change in the country's energy scenario. The country has come a long way from using kerosene to LPG for cooking and with this "sunrise sector", there is yet another revolution waiting to happen. The government has tested these solar cooking tops on about 50 trial users for the last six months in extreme cold and hot weather conditions including by the Army, BRO, and schools with all kinds of foods being prepared on it, including at Leh, Lakshadweep, Gwalior, Udaipur, and Delhi/NCR to obtain user feedback under actual use conditions, according to another report.

The solar cooking top consists of two units. While the main cooking unit is indoor, another unit is kept outdoors which captures solar energy through a PV panel. It is rechargeable and the indoor cooking stove uses the sun's energy to cook food while always being kept in the kitchen. Impressed with the way the solar cooking top works, chef Brar pointed out that the solar cooking top was ideal for cooking stews, 'khichdis' and other one-pot dishes. Why the buzz around millets? Millet is probably the world's answer to global hunger and nutritional issues. India, the largest producer and the second largest exporter of millets in the world, has made the world sit up and look at it with an appetite it never knew it had.

Two years ago, the UN General Assembly adopted India's resolution to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets. India is on a mission to make this eco-friendly and healthier nutri-cereal" part of every household within and without the country. Millets, which include grains such as jowar, bajra and ragi, are both eco-friendly and healthier than more commonly consumed grains. Since they require much less water than rice or wheat, they can easily be grown in areas without irrigation, and can even grow in drought, poor soil, extreme weather or hilly areas. When compared to processed rice or wheat, millets have a much lower glycaemic index. Glycaemic index is a measure of how much blood sugar levels spike after consuming a food item - than processed rice or wheat. Lower the index, lower the chances of blood sugar and weight gain. According to a report, India is projected to have 69.9 million diabetics by 2025. India is also considered the diabetic capital of the world, and Indians are at a high risk of cardiovascular diseases at a young age. Incorporating millets in the menu can help India check all such health issues and is definitely a healthier option for all. Weighing all these options, India is leaving no stones unturned in making millets part of the country's household.

Millets get a new name Besides getting a new found respect in the world, thanks to the Government of India's initiatives, millet has also found a new name. 'Sri Anna' is the name that the government has picked for millets. Addressing a rally in Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi explained the rationale behind the name, "People in Karnataka understand the importance of 'thick food grains' (millets). That's the reason that you all call it 'Siri Dhaanya... Now, the millets will be known as 'Sri Anna' across the country. 'Sri Anna' means the best among all the food grains," he was quoted as saying in a report.

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