Origin: History reveals that the domestication of sorghum took place in northeastern Africa many many years ago. The records from the archaeological dig at a place near the Egyptian- Sudanese border called Nabtya playa, and at the Nile, show the remains and use of sorghum/jowar.
Sorghum was cultivated in different regions in Africa and this plant adapted the varied weather conditions and environments to grow. It sustained the highlands of Ethiopia to the semi-arid Sahel. Later, the crop spread to India and China and then to Australia.
It is believed that the sorghum or jowar was first found around 700 B.C ago. It was introduced during the trade between East Africa and India. The trade was done through Arabia and along the different coasts of Asia.
In the U.S., the first known record of sorghum is from Ben Franklin who wrote about its uses in producing brooms in 1757. A few years later, sorghum was cultivated in many U.S. states and was also crossbred to create new varieties.
In India, sorghum is popularly known as jowar, cholam, or jonna, and in West Africa as Guinea corn, and in China as kaoliang.
Scientifically: Sorghum or jowar are edible starchy seeds. It is a cereal grain plant of the grass family (Poaceae).
The word “sorghum” was derived from “sorgo”, the Italian name for the plant. Sorghum is a very important crop in hot and arid regions because of its resistance to drought and heat. Sorghum is a strong crop and usually grows up to a height of 0.6 to 2.4 meters (2 to 8 feet) and can also reach 15 feet. The leaves of this plant are generally coated with white wax, and the central portion, of the stalks of certain varieties, is juicy and sweet. The leaves are about 5 cm (2 inches) broad and 76 cm (2.5 feet) long. The tiny flowers are produced from loose to dense and each flower cluster bears 800–3,000 kernels. The seeds may vary in different types in color, shape, and size, but they are smaller than those of wheat.
Usage: It is rich in carbohydrates and has 10% percent protein and 3.4 percent fat, and is great source of calcium, iron, vitaminB1, and niacin. Jowar is a gluten-free grain and is popularly consumed as porridge, flatbreads, and cakes. The grain is also used in making edible oil, starch, dextrose (a kind of sugar), paste, and alcoholic beverages. Sorghum stalks are also used to feed livestock.
Jowar is also referred to as a new quinoa because of its innumerable health benefits. Jowar is loaded with fiber thus it helps in improving digestion and constipation. It also helps in fighting free radicals and prevents cancer. It is a good source of protein, thus helps in providing essential amino acids to the body. Jowar is also known to control blood sugar levels.
Below are some DIYs with sorghum/jowar:
- Take one tablespoon of coarsely ground jowar, a tablespoon of almond powder and a tablespoon of coconut oil. Mix all the ingredients together and add water to make a thick paste. Apply this paste on the face or any part of the body. Keep it on 10-15 minutes and then rinse it off in a scrubbing motion. This remedy helps in removing the dead skin.
- Take a tablespoon of sorghum flour and add some raw milk and honey to it. Mix them together and apply on the face. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then rinse. This remedy helps in skin lightening and tightening.
- Take a tablespoon of jowar flour and add a tablespoon of fresh milk cream to it. Mix it and apply it on the face. Keep it on for 15 minutes. Rinse later. This helps in deep moisturising of the skin.
- Take a teaspoon of jowar/sorghum flour and add some lemon juice and honey to it. Apply this remedy on the dark spots on the face or any pigmented area. This helps in the fading of dark spots.