Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, is igniting a millet revolution in the honor of the International Year of Millet 2023. Unveiling an extensive campaign, PAU is conducting workshops, seminars, trainings, and programs to spotlight the unparalleled significance of millets. This drive has kindled a newfound enthusiasm for millets, setting the stage for a revolutionary journey from farm to fork.
Highlighting the university’s historical role as a pioneering force in millet breeding, Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor of PAU, proclaimed that it has consistently crafted solutions for emerging challenges and elevating communities. He emphasized millet processing techniques that have unlocked a treasure trove of health benefits and culinary possibilities. Millets, lauded for their rich reserves of minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, proteins, and bioactive compounds, have emerged as a potent defense against chronic degenerative diseases. Leveraging their intricate macro-molecular structure, millets exhibit slower starch digestion rates and boast hypoglycemic traits, contrasting starkly with major cereals’ high glycemic index, Dr Gosal remarked.
Dr. Ajmer Singh Dhatt, Director of Research at PAU, spotlighted millets’ agrarian excellence. Resilient against high-temperature and drought-prone conditions, millets are ideal contenders for diversified crop strategies. However, challenges like lower palatability and limited shelf life have impeded their full potential. Dr. Dhatt revealed that PAU’s Department of Food Science and Technology has developed and standardized advanced processing techniques, yielding convenient, high-quality products seamlessly fitting modern diets. These cutting-edge millet value-addition technologies are accessible for dissemination and transfer to a diverse range of stakeholders, holding promising potential for commercialization.
Delving into the specifics of these value-added products, Dr. Savita Sharma, Head of the Department of Food Science and Technology, illuminated bioprocessing’s influence on millet flours. Harnessing germination and fermentation potential, this technique has yielded remarkable results: elevated nutritional profiles, potent bioactive content, antioxidant prowess, and reduced anti-nutritional factors. The processed millet flours entail enhanced starch and protein digestibility, positioning them as prime candidates for functional food ingredients.
Dr. Sharma divulged the details about the transformative extrusion method. By skillfully optimizing variables, PAU has developed an array of high-quality, value-added products – from delectable snacks to instant porridge and pasta. These offerings boast heightened palatability, superior nutrient absorption, and reduced anti-nutrient content, providing a healthy alternative to traditional cereal-based extruded goods.
Unveiling the millet-based bakery items, Dr. Sharma cited baking cookies, cakes, muffins, and more, fusing nutrition with sensory delight. Particularly beneficial for those with gluten sensitivities, these bakery gems cater to a spectrum of dietary needs, including gluten intolerance, allergies, and celiac disease. She emphasized the revival of indigenous millet products through standardized techniques, breathing new life into traditional preparations like Pinni, Gachak (Chikki), and flour premixes for chapatti, parantha, and pancake (Chilla). These revitalized creations, packed with nutrition and authentic flavors, hold promise for manufacturers and discerning consumers alike, seeking wholesome culinary experiences.