Finger millet

Finger millet is a staple food in many regions of Africa and India where it is extensively grown. The white, light or dark brown seeds are used as a whole meal in preparing traditional dishes as ambali (porridge), mudde (dumpling) or roti (bread or pancake). Generally, they can be treated as other cereals (wheat, barley, or rice). So bake a cake or biscuits with gluten-free finger millet flour instead of wheat. Prepare dosa , idli, paratha, ladoo or halwa. Alcoholic beverages can be made as well.

Health benefits

Finger millet is regarded as one of the most nutritious cereals, a rich source of minerals such as calcium (threefold as milk and eight times as much as other cereals), iron, protein and fiber. It is easy to digest but slow, so glucose is released gradually into the blood. Additionally, the seeds don’t contain gluten. It helps in lowering blood cholesterol due to the presence of lecithin, methionine and threonine. Tryptophan diminishes appetite, helping eaters keep weight under control. Finger millet is a low-fat product and provides primarily unsaturated fat. Isoleucine is helpful in repairing muscles and forming blood and bones. Valine facilitates metabolism.

Aroma profile

Finger millet is characterized by green, oat flakes notes and woody / phenolic notes, giving it a grainy aroma. Coumarin gives pleasant dried grassy / hay-like nuance. Nutty flavors are provided by pyrazines, which in companion with pyrrolines brings a popcorn-like hue. Earthy aromas are the result of geosmin and 2-isobutyl-3-metoxypyrazine, a typical compound of bell pepper (though it doesn’t smell like bell peppers in this case). There is quite a high concentration of animal notes. Due to lactones, a creamy aftertaste can be felt with some buttery, coconut scent.


Millet is a perfect side for different meats (rabbit, quail, pheasant, beef or bone marrow) and seafood (pan-fried gamba, Atlantic wolffish, barramundi, lemon sole, bass or crab). It pairs well with dairy products, such as Emmental, Brie, goat cheese, Livarot, Roncal, Mascarpone and buttermilk. Enrich it with vegetables as orange tomato, kohlrabi, red cabbage, zucchini, artichoke or white truffle. Millet is a perfect base for truffles, cookies and other pastries. It can replace couscous or rice, also in pudding.

Discover your own millet pairings with our Foodpairing® Tool by subscribing now. Already have an account? Log in.

More from the same author

Need inspiration?

Sign up now