In India pearl millet is commonly popped. Dry grains sprinkled onto hot sand burst like popcorn. The pops are sometimes eaten with powdered sugar or brown sugar (jaggery).
The types that pop best have been given little or no special study. But popping is a promising method for bettering this crop (see Appendix C, page 297) and should be investigated further. Select types with round grains and impervious seed coats (so that the steam building up inside can reach the explosive levels necessary for good popping) will probably prove best.
Although most of the pearl millets so far grown are tan or brown, white-grained types for the large-scale commercial production of food for people are now under development. These are attractive to look at and are sweet to the taste. Some have high protein contents. Also known are some yellow-grained pearl millets that are rich in carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. So far, however, they have been little appreciated.
As noted earlier, pearl millet is among the more difficult grains to prepare. For one thing, the whole grain (caryopsis) contains a high proportion of germ. But more important, the germ is embedded inside the kernel and is difficult to remove. It is for this reason that traditional hand decortication often produces low yields of flour (not to mention its tendency to go rancid during storage).
The need for cultivars with improved dehulling properties is critical. Indeed, varieties with large, spherical, uniform, hard kernels that produce high milling yields already exist, but have not been documented systematically or brought into large-scale commercial production.
When pearl millets are processed into food products, there will be a need for larger supplies of more uniform grain with desirable milling properties and acceptable flavor, color, and keeping properties.
Most of the world's cereal breeding is done with foods such as bread, cakes, cookies, crackers, canelloni, or various breakfast