“boiled grain dish.” This word is found in Northern Altai (E) with the meanings “thickened soup” and “barley.” In Salar (Kansu Province, China), it means “whole wheat porridge.” In Kazakh it is grain, sometimes fried, pounded and then boiled in soup or milk. In Kirgiz (Mid-Central) it is millet or wheat groats; in the Talas dialect of Kirgiz, noodles. TZ: “groats.”
Borrowings: The Persian-speaking Tajiks of Central Asia have borrowed this word as the name of a dish of groats boiled with sorghum flour and flavored with yogurt. The word was known in Medieval Osmanli, and Byzantinists have occasionally derived it from the Greek kokkion, seed. Needless to say, the antiquity of the word, its concentration among the Northeastern languages and its presence in China rule this derivation out.
Rationale for redaction: The annals of many travellers mention, ad nauseam, the use of boiled millet in various forms as a staple of the Mongol diet in period. Millet is not often experienced by the average Australian and so we added this dish as something novel that is both tasty and filling. It was also my hope to introduce a new food to the guests that they might think about including in their normal diet.
6 kilos hulled, food-grade millet
Water (double the number of cups of the millet)
3 kilos Brown Onion – finely chopped
1 kilo Salted Butter
- Measure your millet to see how many cups of millet you have; double this measure to figure out your water requirements. Millet is generally cooked at 1 part millet to 2 parts liquid. At weights as large as we are using, the measures of millet can change substantially based on the quality of the millet.
- (optional: given the amount of millet used in this dish but does improve the taste of the dish): In a large, dry pan, toast millet over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes until it is golden brown but not burnt.
- Add water to pan with millet, increase heat to high, and bring to boil.
- Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to simmer, place a lid over the pot, and leave it alone to simmer for about 15 minutes. Like with other grains, it is important to leave the cover on as much as possible. Continued checking and stirring (unless the grain is sticking to the bottom of the pan) will break the grain and cause the dish to be mushy.
- Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes.
- During this time, heat butter in a skillet and cook onion until clarified and slightly caramelised. Do not burn.
- Add butter/onion mixture to millet and gently incorporate.
- Serve hot or warm.
- The primary assumptions in this recipe stem from the use of a description/translation of a word within a language. We lacked a recipe but this is not because they did not eat millet in period. Rather, I feel that it was like many dishes nowadays. By the time you were old enough to make a millet dish, you already knew how to do it from watching others around you. You really did not need directions (similar to preparing cereal or a peanut butter sandwich). So, as we can see in the description, millet could be substituted and basically it was a boiled dish. We added to that description to make the millet less overpowering (as Master Drake said one night, ‘it is like eating bird seed and tastes like it.’ I was fortunate enough to eat millet occasionally as a child and knew that the dish can be quite tasty. The most important step to get rid of the ‘bird seed’ taste is to get hulled millet.
- Master Drake used the assumption of butter and fried onion being both available and accessible to improve the flavour of the dish.
- This is one of Master Drake’s recipes. I thank him for its use here.
- I will be looking into the use of boiled grains later this year.