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Millet Cuisines Make Waves in China as Indian Diplomatic Mission Marks IYM-2023

Millets, a cereal-based staple food dating back to prehistoric times, made a triumphant return in Indian restaurants across China as Indian diplomatic missions celebrated the International Year of Millets 2023.

Shivam Dwivedi
Indian Embassy in Beijing has planned a number of events for this occasion, including a round table discussion on IYOM 2023
Indian Embassy in Beijing has planned a number of events for this occasion, including a round table discussion on IYOM 2023

The year 2023 has been designated as the 'International Year of Millets,' following a proposal by the Government of India that was supported by members of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Governing Bodies and the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Over 70 countries supported the proposal. The Indian Embassy in Beijing, as well as the consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong, have announced programmes to promote this initiative. The Indian Embassy in Beijing has planned a number of events for this occasion, including a round table discussion on IYOM 2023, which will be attended by the Food and Agriculture Organization Representative to China.

The Embassy will also release a 'Millets recipe book' and host a 'Millets cooking Challenge' and a 'Millets selfie competition'. Indian restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, and other Chinese cities have created several unique millet dishes to appeal to their Chinese customers. They have also displayed a variety of Indian millets in special enclosures to emphasise their importance for nutrition and food security. Taj Pavilion, Beijing's oldest Indian restaurant, has created an exclusive new millet menu that includes Millet Dhokla, Goti Pokodi, Tomato Ragi Omelette, Chicken Bhuna Sargam, and Barlie Barlie Mutton Pulao.

"The Chinese are very familiar with millets. Every day, they have "Conjee," a porridge made of total millets and total grains, according to Taj Pavilion owner M H Pastakia. "We're trying to show our Chinese customers that millets can be tasty in a main course like parathas and desserts,. In some of these dishes, we've innovated with a mix of spices and included them in the main course, and surprisingly, our Chinese customers like them," he said.

On February 17, another popular Indian restaurant, 'Dastan,' hosted a Millet Festival 2023 with 25 dishes, and the Indian Ambassador, Pradeep Kumar Rawat, attended. "At that event, we served 25 exclusive millet dishes that were well received by the Chinese, international, and Indian guests," Rabiul, an Indian chef who opened Dastaan last year, told PTI. On February 17, his restaurant hosted the Millet Festival 2023, which featured a variety of exclusive millet dishes.

Ragi paneer vegetable samosa, jowar moong dal ki khichdi, ragi poori, keema bajra ka kofta, saamai thakkali rasam, spicy millet crusted baked fish, gulabo millet, and kheer were among the dishes. Dr. Nandakumar, India's Consul General in Shanghai, held a press conference on Monday with Chinese and Beijing-based Indian media to highlight the events planned by his mission to popularise Indian millets.

The mission intends to organise a celebration of the International Year of Millet on February 23, in which the FAO representative from China will participate. According to Nandakumar, the event aims to raise awareness about millets, their health and nutritional benefits, and to demonstrate the diverse range of food items that can be easily made using millets and millets-based products.

In addition to serving Indian and international cuisines with millets at the event, the Consulate will host a small exhibition to provide information on how millets can be a win-win for all and the Indian government's initiatives to promote millets. According to Nandakumar, India is a major producer and consumer of millets in the world, and because millets can play an important role in food and nutritional security, the Government of India designated millets as 'nutri cereals' in 2018. As a result, India designated 2018 as the National Year of Millets. Millets were also included in the National Food Security Act (NFSA), he explained.

The Consulate General of India in Guangzhou also held an exhibition-cum-presentation on millets for the Guangzhou-based Diplomatic Corps. Millets have historically been popular in China. The Xia and Shang dynasties were considered "millet cultures," with millet and related plants serving as staple crops. Houji, known as "Lord of the Millet," was a founder of the Zhou dynasty (1046-256BC). The UN declaration of IYM 2023 has helped India to be at the forefront of millet year celebrations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also shared his vision to make IYM 2023 a "people's movement" alongside positioning India as the "Global hub of millets". Speaking to members of the Indian diaspora in Vienna last month, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said India can grow millets, which can help meet the world's growing food demand. The global millets market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.5% between 2021 and 2026.

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