I love making pilafs for weeknight dinners because it is so easy to prepare. In under 30 minutes, you can put a perfectly delicious pilaf together. And the best part is that there are a ton of ways you can innovate with the flavors by using different veggies and grains. Cooking a pilaf is also probably the easiest way to include something healthy in your diet – in any pilaf recipe swap the white rice out for a whole grain such as brown rice, millets or cracked wheat!
A diabetic person has to watch the ‘quality’ of carbohydrates. There are two types of carbohydrates – refined or simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs such as white rice or plain flour/maida get easily converted to sugar and can spike blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates include whole grains such as cracked wheat, millets or oats and fiber-rich vegetables such as spinach and lentils such as different dals or chickpeas. These get converted to sugar more slowly and hence they are good for managing blood sugar levels.
In this recipe, I have used classic combination of spinach and chickpeas. The crunch of the chickpeas and the flavor of spinach just works so well in curries and pilafs, right? I have also swapped the white rice out for a whole grain called foxtail millet. This has a nice nutty flavor that makes dish so rustic and appealing that you won’t miss the white rice. Do check out the other foxtail recipes on my blog as well : Foxtail Millet Fried ‘Rice’ and Foxtail Millet and Broken Wheat Dosa
Spinach Chickpeas (Channa) Foxtail Millet Pilaf
- 1 cup foxtail millet
- 3 cups of spinach
- 2/3 cup cooked/canned chickpeas (channa) – (Check notes on how to cook dried chickpeas)
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 cloves
- 2 pods of cardamom
- 2 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup onion (1 medium sized onion)
- 1/2 cup tomato (1 large tomato)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 3/4 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp oil
- salt to taste
- Blend 3 cups of spinach and 1/2 cup water to get a smooth puree. Also chop tomato, onion and garlic finely.
- Heat oil in a large pan. Add whole spices – cumin, cloves, cardamom and bay leaf, chopped onion and garlic as well and saute till the onions brown lightly.
- Then add the tomato, spices, salt and saute well to mix everything. Then add the millets and roast it well for 2-3 minutes. This step is important as roasting helps reduce the cooking time for millets.
- To this, add the spinach puree, cooked chickpeas and 1 cup water. At this point check the taste and add more salt or spices as required. Bring the mixture to a boil on high heat and then close the lid of the pan and let it simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Check in between to see if the pilaf needs more water. Sometimes if the millet is a little old you might need more water to cook. Once the millet gets cooked, let it sit for 5-10 minutes so that it fluffs up well.
Serve this hot with a side of dal or raitha!
- If you are using dried chickpeas, soak 1/3 cup dried chickpeas in 1 cup of water overnight. Then drain the soaked chickpeas and pressure cook it for 3-4 whistles with 1 cup of water and salt to taste.