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Sorghum: The 5th Principal Cereal Grain

sorghum

Healthy, hearty, and easy to grow, sorghum has attracted a lot more attention due to its versatility, nutrition, and gluten-free nature. Read on to learn more about sorghum, and easy ways to cook with it.

What is Sorghum?

Sorghum, an ancient whole grain, belongs to the grass family of Poaceae. The sorghum plant has a close resemblance to the corn plant, while its grains look like tiny balls covered in an edible hull. The color of sorghum grains ranges from white to yellow, and red to brown. 

The sorghum plant is cultivated widely in Asia, and Africa, where it’s used for cereal grains, molasses, beverages, and animal fodder. Sorghum grain is considered the fifth principal cereal crop of the world. This tasty cereal grain is gluten-free and is packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates. 

Origin of Sorghum

The ancient crop of sorghum is thought to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa about 8,000 years ago. Some evidence also reveals the crop origins to be Yemen and Sudan. However, the current top producers of sorghum are the United States, Mexico, Argentina, and Australia. The crop is especially known to be an environmentally friendly crop as it uses little to no fertilizers and pesticides. Moreover, its ability to grow in harsh climates makes it one of the easiest crops to grow. 

Flavor and Texture

Sorghum offers a mild, nutty flavor with hints of sweetness and an earthy undertone. The texture of cooked sorghum is firm, soft, and gooey. The tiny balls of cooked sorghum pop in the mouth while eating, giving a pleasant chew.  

Uses of Sorghum

Sorghum is a versatile grain that can be used to prepare sweet and savory dishes. Sorghum can be used to prepare any dish that calls for rice, quinoa, or other similar grains. Sorghum is a gluten-free cereal grain that closely resembles wheat grains. Sorghum can be cooked or baked into several dishes suitable for gluten intolerant individuals. 

You can prepare risotto, salads, granola, and even baked products from this healthy whole grain. Indian cuisine uses sorghum flour in Bakri, a circular, flatbread, while Ethiopians prepare Injera bread from sorghum. Try out our recipes for spring risotto, chicken grain bowls, and salmon with citrus and avocado salsa over quinoa with hearty sorghum instead.

Sorghum grains can be popped into popcorn or milled into flour for baking purposes. The stalks of sweet sorghum are also leveraged into sorghum syrup, an alternative to refined sugar. Sorghum syrup, also known as “sorghum molasses” is used in the wine industry as well as in processed foods as a sweetening agent. 

Moreover, soaked sorghum is cooked into nutritious porridges to start a healthy day. South African cuisine uses sorghum in a savory brown porridge served with soured milk, or Merogo (a boiled green vegetable mixture). Sorghum is also added into soups, and stews where it acts as a thickening agent and lifts the flavor.

Sorghum grains taste exceptional in stuffed bell peppers, zucchini, and sweet potatoes. You can try our black bean stuffed peppers and green chili black bean loaded sweet potatoes with sorghum grains as a healthy and pleasant alternative. Whether you use sorghum boiled in savory recipes or cooked into bread, cakes, and pancakes, this healthy, gluten-free, and hearty cereal grain is worth a try. 

Feature Image: Vijaya narasimha from Pixabay

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