Hainanese chicken with millet
Hainanese chicken with millet

This one is inspired by the Singaporean favorite Hainanese chicken rice, except it does not use any rice. Its been a while since we have moved from rice to millet, the barnyard or sanwa variety often called ‘Sama ke chawal’ in Hindi, and had during Navratri or other vrat seasons. Not to reiterate the numerous health benefits of millet, most of us know its healthy, neutral in taste, gluten-free, non-fattening, and diabetic-friendly – in other words, the best guilt-free substitute so far for the rice-loving Bengali who is looking for an accompaniment to have his beloved fish curry with. Yes we’ve cooked it like usual short grain white rice, made sheddho bhaat out of it, added daal and veggies to make khichdi, stir- fried it with some curry leaves and mustard tadka to make pongal, added curd and grated carrot to make amazing curd rice, turned it into couscous, so the possibilities are endless.

This weekend I decided to make a Hainanese style Chicken rice equivalent with the barnyard millet. I’m not sure how true it was to its origins but I tried to keep the ingredients in line with tastes of the region.

Ingredients: (serves two)

  • Chicken breasts: 2 nos, preferably with the skin on
  • Dark soy sauce: 2 tbsp
  • Oyster sauce: 1 tbsp
  • Ginger: 2 inches, sliced into thin long strips
  • Vinegar/Lime juice: 1 tbsp
  • Mirin: 1 tbsp (optional)
  • Sesame oil: 1 tbsp
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Millet: 1 cup
  • Chicken stock: 2 cups


  • Marinate the chicken with all the seasoning agents except the oyster sauce, and retaining half the ginger strips.
  • Set aside for at least half an hour, or as long as you can afford to.
  • Place a sheet of aluminium foil on a baking tray, place the chicken breasts along with the marinade, add some water if needed – to allow some amount of liquid in the tray that would be enough to form a sauce and also keep the chicken from sticking to the tray.
  • Set oven at 200 deg C and grill for 30 mins.
  • During the last 10 mins of grilling, brush some oyster sauce on the chicken, skin-side up, and turn on the top heating coil of the oven.
  • Meanwhile, boil the millet with the stock and the remaining ginger. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and keep covered till its time to eat.
  • Slice the chicken breasts when they cool down slightly. Makes it easier to tackle on the plate.
  • Serve with sliced cucumber and spring onions as garnish and the drained sauce on the side.

Note: While buying the chicken for this, try to find a smaller chick, preferably under a kilogram. This one weighed 800 gms and I had asked them to cut the entire bird into four. Was perfectly juicy and much tastier than the bigger birds.

Hainanese chicken with millet
Hainanese chicken with millet