Kaguno (foxtail millet) is the grain I am in love with. It is an ancient grain, a type of millet, which is also considered as a first domesticated variety of millet. In Nepal, it is grown in many mid-hill areas in Karnali region, Lamjung and Kaski. Unlike other varieties of millet, it has very soft and creamy texture when cooked, and makes really delicious kheer (sweet porridge). I personally prefer the kheer made of kaguno than the typical one made of rice. However, for many reasons including the transition towards rice as the main staple, its production is declining. When I showed Kaguno grain to my mother and cooked her the kheer, she recognized the grain and told me that she had consumed when young. Her parents used to grow the grain and call it ‘kauno’. According to her, the grain didn’t even need a proper field to grow – they were grown in sloppy land or khoriya where maize and pearl millet were not grown. But people no more grow the grain in that area and has completely disappeared. I am hoping to reintroduce this lovely grain back to that area.
It is easily grown in a less fertile dry land and is nutritious with a high content of protein, fiber, and minerals, non-diabetic and gluten-free. It can be cooked simply as rice (bhaat) or made into kheer or salad (kaguno salad with roasted mustard oil dressing). The grain is also used in brewing local alcohol and flour is used in making roti and selroti.
The kaguno kheer is super easy to make and even if you are not really big fan of rice kheer like me, you are going to love this.
1 liter whole milk
2/3 cup or a big handful kaguno
3-4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt (optional)
Wash the kaguno grains couple of time to remove impurities.
In a large pot, add a liter of milk and put it over medium heat. When the milk starts to boil, add crushed cardamom, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Then add kaguno and cook it for around 15-20 minutes on low-medium heat with occasional stirring. Once the grains are cooked (pinch the grain with your finger to check if the grains are cooked), turn off the heat. If the kaguno is not cooked and the porridge is too thick, add some more water or milk and cook it for few more minutes.
The kheer is ready, and serve it hot or cold. Drizzle with locally sourced honey for more sweetness and flavor. You can also top up with nuts, fruits, and berries of your choice.