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Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I, Grains
they cannot always be used in the normal manner. Nonetheless, there is a good possibility that they will make nontraditional quick-cooking products that will appeal to many.
These unusual types are found especially in East Asia. The starch in their grains is entirely amylopectin, rather than amylose and other normal forms.
Some sorghums in Sri Lanka and northeastern India are said to have the aroma of basmati, the fragrant rice preferred by millions of Asians. Although bland-tasting rice has dominated international markets, the basmati type has always been tropical Asia's favorite, and it is now increasingly sold worldwide (even in the United States) as a high-priced specialty. The discovery of sorghum counterparts opens up similar opportunities. They, too, might become specialty foods of high value. Also, they might help boost the acceptance of sorghum—normally the blandest of grains—even where it is a staple.
All in all, flavorful types like these present good opportunities for improving markets and increasing consumption, not to mention boosting the returns to farmers.
Deep in the misty green valleys of Ethiopia's highlands is hiding a unique sorghum that, in both nutrition and palatability, far surpasses the thousands of types found elsewhere.
Ethiopians call these types "milk in my mouth" (wetet begunche) and "honey squirts out of it" (marchuke). To anyone who has tasted normal, bland, sorghum flour, the names alone indicate something special. Both varieties produce somewhat lower yields than normal but everyone likes to eat them. The taste of roasted marchuke, for instance, has been likened to that of roasted chestnuts. People gather the grains, roast them over a fire, and pop them down like peanuts. Both are often used to enhance the flavor of local dishes made from regular sorghums. The taste comes from the reducing sugars that caramelize as they are roasted.
Until 1973 these two varieties were restricted to a tiny upland area of north-central Ethiopia. The growers hid them in the middle of their sorghum fields (mainly so the landlords wouldn't find out and raise the rents based on the extra income from these elite types). In 1973, however, researchers analyzing different sorghums for their food value