Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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millet encompasses a world of grasses whose plants have been domesticated and seeds have been harvested for human consumption. The genera Panicum, Setaria, and Eleusine are the most important, but there are several others (see, for instance, fonio, sorghum, tef, and wild rice). They bear small grains, yielding a coarse flour. They have been and in many places still are important staple foods, especially in dry, hot regions.

Millets vary in flavour from thoroughly palatable to bitter and unpleasant. Many are grown mainly or exclusively as fodder crops for animals or poultry. Since most of them have many alternative common names the only clear way to list them is by their botanical names.