Rice, a staple in much of India, doesn't grow in the desert climate of Rajasthan, so people eat millet instead, cooking the grains in buttermilk or yogurt rather than water. At Chhatra Sagar, a luxury camp near the city of Amjer where guests stay in beautiful hand-stitched tents, Peggy Markel discovered this millet stew at a morning cooking class. Vibrantly flavored with spices and chiles, the dish has the texture of pleasantly grainy mashed potatoes and is a great accompaniment to Rajasthan's tandoori meats.
In a large skillet, toast the millet over high heat, shaking the pan often, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large plate to cool.
In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil. Add the cumin seeds and toast over high heat, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the millet and the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until the millet is just tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the yogurt, coriander, turmeric, crushed red pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, until the yogurt is thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt. Transfer to a bowl, top with the chile and cilantro and serve right away.