Say hello to the new super grain - sorghum

Already a staple in some parts of the world, sorghum is on the path to superfood status in the West.
Already a staple in some parts of the world, sorghum is on the path to superfood status in the West. Photo: iStock

Quinoa is blah, we've already got our freekeh on and pearl barley has had its fair share of plating up, it's about time for a super grain sea change.

Introducing sorghum – the new ancient wonder grain reaching global superfood status.

A traditional seed-like grain native to Africa, Sorghum is now gaining momentum as the healthy grain alternative ticking all the right superfood credentials.

In Australia, sorghum is still regarded primarily as a crop for livestock.
In Australia, sorghum is still regarded primarily as a crop for livestock. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Firstly, it's gluten-free, non GMO and is said to contain less fat than quinoa, but to top it off it's also massively high in protein and fibre and is proven to have a higher antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature than blueberries and pomegranates.

The grain also contains anthocyanins – powerful phytochemicals proven to fight off cancer and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and a Korean study found it may even have the potential to improve insulin and produce an anti-diabetic effect.

So where do we find this miraculous sorghum? While it's still new to the superfood market in Australia – according to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries sorghum is primarily cultivated as feed for livestock – it's already winning the hearts of some chefs, who are importing it from overseas, and is slowly gaining a host of online stockists.

Chris Yan, head chef of Lotus Dining in Sydney, has long been a fan of the grain, thanks to its known health benefits in China.

"Sorghum is the food of my childhood memories. It's a very popular superfood in China, used primarily for porridge and to make dumplings and Chinese cakes."

He even makes the effort to stock up on it whenever he travels there as his experience so far has found the availability and mainstream knowledge in Australia is still lacking.

"I once brought some back to Sydney and they stopped me at the airport as they didn't know what sorghum was! It's changing now, though, gradually it's starting to appear in Sydney."

Yan says while already a staple in Chinese food he believes it has the potential to be so in Australia too: "It will definitely become more popular in the local food scene here given that Sydneysiders are health conscious and it's both gluten-free and has a great texture."

So, how should we serve up the super-powered sorghum? Yan recommends making a punchy porridge with rice, oats, pearl barley and millet, using sorghum flour to make pork and vegetable dumplings or sprinkling through a salad as you would other ancient grains.

Alternatively, to get the full scope of its versatility, try these sorghum-approved snack solutions:

5 simple ways with sorghum

1. Pop it

Sorghum works wonderfully as popcorn – purchase it puffed or pop it yourself for the next Netflix night in. Honest to Goodness sells an organic pre-popped version, processed in Australia.

2. Bake it

With a neutral flavour, ground sorghum can be easily subbed in place of other gluten-free flours to whip up anything including flat breads, pizza bases, waffles, muffins, cookies and cakes. To get started, try The Source Bulk Foods ground version.

3. Slurp it

For an extra earthy smoothie, swap oats or protein powder for a scoop of sorghum and get a natural protein and fibre hit with added grainy goodness.

4. Bowl it

As a gluten-free grain, sorghum makes for a natural cereal choice. Sanitarium Weet-Bix now use sorghum as the main wholegrain in their gluten-free range, so simply add milk, top with berries and enjoy for an easy iron, fibre and B vitamin hit.

5. Flip it

If cereal is too conventional, make a luxe breakfast using sorghum as the main ingredient in protein pancakes instead. Use in place of another gluten-free flour and serve with berries, peanut butter and coconut shavings for an Instagram worthy meal.