Basic Millet Pilaf Recipe

Bowl of Millet
Bowl of Millet. Getty
  • 40 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings (3 cups)
Ratings (5)

Millet is one of the most under-represented and under-loved grains and was somehow passed over when quinoa became all the rage. It is an ancient grain, dating back about 7000 years in Asia and Africa. Millet is gluten free and allergen free, so can be an excellent choice for those of us who are sensitive to other grains. It's alkaline, heart healthy, contains 15% protein and is a slow-burning, low-glycemic grain. It contains ample minerals, B vitamins, fiber, and when combined with legumes will form a complete amino acid profile. 1 cup of cooked millet contains about 6 grams of protein. It must be noted, however, that millet is also rich in goitrogens, substances which suppress thyroid activity if consumed excessively. Bottom line? Eat millet in moderation, and enjoy it!

Lightly toasting the millet is an optional step that gives a nutty flavor to this simple macrobiotic pilaf. You can also add a few pods of cardamom with the onion and carrot and garnish the finished pilaf with toasted pine nuts for a north African style pulao (see variations below). This dish is great with Red Lentil Dahl, (especially if you add the cardamom seeds to the pilaf) or hearty Lentil Stew With Fall Vegetables.

What You'll Need

  • 1 tablespoon olive or untoasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup millet
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • Large pinch of sea salt
  • 3 cups warm water, vegetable broth or free range organic chicken stock

How to Make It

  1. Heat the olive or sesame oil in a heavy bottomed 1-quart pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the millet and toast it for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the millet is golden and gives off a nutty aroma.
  3. Add the chopped onion and carrot to the millet, and cook two to three more minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the sea salt and water to the pan and stir once. Bring the millet to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the pilaf for 30 minutes.
  1. Remove the pilaf from the heat and let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the millet with a fork and serve.

Recipe Variation Ideas

  • Add 2 or 3 gently bruised (cracked) cardamom pods to the millet when you add the chopped onion and carrot.  
  • Add a handful of toasted pine nuts and/or dark or golden raisins before serving.