No Rice Idli with Millets

I have been meaning to try Idli with Millets instead of rice for a while now, but have been putting it off. This is primarily because I am trying to use millets on a regular basis in my diet. I have already posted recipes for Varai Pulav/Sama Upma, Pongal with Barnyard Millet (Kuthiravali), Bajrichi Bhakri, Bajrichi Khichdi, and Jowar Dosa. However, if I am able to make Idli and Dosa with millets, then I can include millets in breakfast also.

A piece of spongy Millet Idli with some Molaga Podi
Spongy Millets Idli

I made Idlis with Barnyard Millet (Kuthiraivali in Tamil, Udalu in Telugu) as I had that at home. This time I used no rice or poha at all. The batter fermented quickly (4 hours in Mumbai’s hot and humid conditions) and the idlis were spongy though a bit drier than the regular idlis. I think next time I will steam them for a lesser duration.

The taste of these Idlis with Millets was quite close to traditional idlis, and I think I can safely say this idli variation will be made often in my home.

I also have some batter left and will make dosas with them tomorrow. 🙂

Idli with Barnyard Millet
Idli with Barnyard Millet

How to Make Idli with Millets

Idli with Millets served with Molaga Podi
Print
Idli with Millets
Prep Time
6 hr
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
6 hr 10 mins
 

This is a recipe for Idli made with millets instead of rice. The result is a spongy idli that tastes pretty close to the traditional idli.

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian
Servings: 4 People
Author: Aruna
Ingredients
For the Millet Idli Batter
  • 1/2 Cup Udad Dal
  • 2 Cups Any Millet I used Barnyard Millet
  • 1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • Salt to Taste
Other Ingredients
  • Oil to Grease Idli Mould
Instructions
Making the Batter for Idli with Millets
  1. Wash the millets well and soak in 4 cups water for at least 4 hours.

  2. Wash the udad dal till water runs clear and soak it with the fenugreek seeds in 2 cups water for at least 4 hours.

  3. Drain and discard all the water from the millets. 

  4. Grind the millets to a fine paste.

  5. Drain and reserve some water from the udad dal and fenugreek.

  6. Add the udad dal and fenugreek to the ground millets.

  7. Grind to a smooth and thick paste using some of the reserved water.

  8. Take the batter out into a large enough vessel and let it ferment for at least 4 hours or till the batter rises. It won't rise as much as the regular idli batter.

Making the Idlis
  1. Add water to the steamer/pressure cooker, and let the water start boiling.

  2. Add salt to the batter and mix with a very gentle hand.

  3. Grease the idli mould with a few drops of oil.

  4. Add enough batter to each cavity to just fill it.

  5. Place the Idli stand in the steamer/pressure cooker and steam for 5 to 7 minutes.

  6. Turn off the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes.

  7. Serve hot with Coconut Chutney, Molaga Podi and Oil, and/or Sambar.

Recipe Notes
  • Be careful not to steam these idlis too much as they then become very dry. They do not need beyond 5 to 7 minutes of steaming.
  • Ensure that the water in the steamer is boiling already before you place the idli stand in it.
  • You can even use a 4:1 ratio of millets to udad dal.
  • I prefer to serve Idli with Millets with Sambar or Coconut Chutney as the idlis are a bit drier than the traditional idlis.

 

Step-by-Step Recipe for Making Idli with Millets

  1. How to Make Batter for Idli with Millets
    1. You can use any millet including Bajra and Jowar.
    2. Wash the millet well under running water and then soak in 3 to 4 cups water for at least 4 hours. The millets will not swell much but soaking helps with grinding.

    3. Wash the udad dal under running water till the water runs clear and then soak it with the fenugreek seeds in 2 cups water for at least 4 hours.
    4. Drain the water completely from the millets. We do not need this water.
    5. Drain all water from the udad dal and fenugreek and reserve some of the water as we will use it in grinding. This water helps the fermentation process.
    6. First grind the millets to a fine paste. Unless you are using Bajra or Jowar, the millets do not need much grinding.

    7. To the ground millets, add the udad dal and fenugreek.
    8. Grind to a smooth and thick batter (dropping consistency) using some of the reserved water.
    9. Remove the batter out into a vessel.
    10. Let the batter ferment in a warm place for at least 4 hours or till the batter rises. The batter for Idli with Millets won’t rise as much as the regular idli batter.

  2. Making the Idlis
    1. Get the steamer/pressure cooker ready by adding water and ensuring that the water has started boiling. This is important as it helps to cook the idlis faster and ensures the idlis afre soft and spongy.
    2. Add salt to the batter and mix with a very gentle hand. You will see that the batter has a lot of air and is spongy in itself. Avoid over mixing it as the idlis will become hard.
    3. As with traditional idlis, use a few drops of oil to grease each cavity of the the idli plate.
    4. Drop enough batter into each cavity to just fill it. The idli will rise quite a bit after steaming.
    5. Steam the idlis for just about 5 to 7 minutes and then turn off the heat.
    6. Let the steamer/pressure cooker cool for 5 minutes, and then open it.
    7. Let the idli rest for 2-3 minutes before de-moulding.
    8. Serve the Idli with Millets hot with Coconut Chutney, Molaga Podi and Oil, and/or Sambar.
No-Rice Idli with Millet
No-Rice Idli with Millet

A Roundup of Chutneys for Idli and Dosa

I have posted so many chutneys and podis that serve as wonderful accompaniments that I decided to a round-up of the recipes I have posted so far. If you try even some of them regularly, I promise  you will not be bored.

Nalla Kharam – Spicy Podi for Idli, Dosa or Rice!

Nalla Kharam for Idli, Dosa, or Rice
Nalla Kharam

Think of a spicy accompaniment for Idli or Dosa, and most people think of the traditional, Khara Podi (aka Molaga Podi). My favourite, however, is Andhra Nalla Kharam; a name which literally means Black Chilly Powder. 🙂

The relatively bland Idli or Dosa serves as the perfect vehicle to enjoy this absolutely delicious and spicy powder. Another great way that Andhra’s relish Nalla Kharam is to mix it with some rice and ghee.  On a more serious note, the curry leaves and coriander seeds in this spice blend are give one a good dose of calcium, carotene, potassium and Vitamin C. Given that Nalla Kharam is almost always eaten with ghee, a person can get a good dose of Calcium in one shot.

Read more about the nutritive value of various spices on this webpage maintained by the Spices Board of India.

Apart from being nutritious, Nalla Kharam is absolutely delicious!

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  1. Dhania or Coriander Seeds – 1/4 cup
  2. Fresh Curry Leaves – 3/4 cup
  3. Udad Dal – 2 tbsp
  4. Red Chillies – 8 to 10
  5. Tamarind – 1/2″ ball
  6. Oil – 1 tbsp
  7. Salt to Taste

Method

  1. Wash the curry leaves and spread them on a newspaper or cotton cloth.
  2. Let the curry leaves dry completely.
  3. In a heavy bottom vessel, heat 1 tbsp oil.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-low.
  5. Add the whole red chillies and stir-fry till chillies start to turn a dar red color.
  6. Remove the chillies and set aside.
  7. Add udad dal and fry till light golden brown.
  8. Add the coriander seeds and stir-fry for about 3-5 minutes till the seeds start to change colour.
  9. Add the curry leaves and stir-fry for 5 to 7 minutes till the leaves start to change colour and turn crisp.
  10. Turn off the heat.
  11. Add the tamarind and red chillies.
  12. Let the mix cool completely.
  13. Grind the spice mix to a coarse powder.
  14. Add salt and mix well.
  15. Store the Nalla Kharam in an airtight bottle.

How to Eat Nalla Kharam

  • Serve Nalla Karam by itself along with idli or dosa.
  • If you are in a decadent mood (or even otherwise), mix 1 tsp of Nalla Kharam with 1 tsp of melted ghee. Have this delicious mix with idli or dosa.
  • At the start of a meal,  mix 1 tsp of Nalla Kharam and 1 tsp of melted ghee with 1/4 cup hot cooked rice. Savour every morsel. This is my favourite way. 🙂

Tips

  • 1 make small batches of Nalla Kharam and use it up within 5 to 7 days because it becomes less aromatic as time passes. 🙂
Andhra Nalla Kharam for Idli, Dosa, or Rice
Andhra Nalla Kharam for Idli, Dosa, or Rice

Super Soft White Idlis

Super Soft White Idlis
Super Soft White Idlis

Idli….a simple, steamed dumpling synonymous with South India.  In South India, we don’t think twice about making Idlis, but the rest of India goes into paroxysms of delight at the sight of an idli. You have to just visit any Udupi outlet in Matunga in Mumbai to witness the craze for Idli. Most non-South Indians start with an order of Idli dunked in Sambar and a side of Molaga Podi. The phenomenon is especially exaggerated on a weekend morning! 🙂

The perfect idli is white, spongy, and light as air; and making it is subject of much discussion. The secret of the perfect idli lies in the batter. In Mumbai, freshly ground idli batter is widely sold at many a local grocer. However, I find that many of the versions contain artificial fermentation agents like buttermilk or yeast. 🙁 So after some years of persisting with store bought batter, I have reverted to making Idli batter at home, just as we have always done.

Making Idli batter is fairly simple, but needs some planning because of the preparation and eventual fermentation that is involved. However, once you master making the Idli batter, it becomes a routine activity. I, for example, make a fresh batch every Saturday and this lasts me through the week. 🙂

So here is my recipe for Soft White Idlis; batter and all.

How to Make Super Soft White Idlis

Preparation Time: 16-24 Hours

Cooking Time: 10 Minutes

Makes: ~24 Idlis

Ingredients

  1. Uppudu Biyyam, Ukada Chawal, or Parboiled Rice – 4 Cups
  2. Minapappu, Udad Dal or Husked, Split Black Gram – 1 Cup
  3. Atukulu, Poha, or Beaten Rice – 1/2 Cup
  4. Menthulu, Methi Dana or Fenugreek Seeds – 1 tsp
  5. Salt to Taste

Method to Make Idli Batter

  1. Wash the rice well under running water.
  2. Soak the rice in 3 cups of water for at least 8 hours.
  3. After 3 hours of soaking the rice:
    1. Wash the black gram well under running water.
    2. In a separate vessel, soak the Bengal gram and fenugreek seeds in 2 cups of water.
  4. About the rice has been soaking for about 8 hours, add the poha/beaten rice to the soaking rice.
  5. After 10 minutes, drain all the water from the rice and discard the water.
  6. Drain the water from the soaked gram and save the water.
  7. Grind the soaked gram first in a mixer-grinder till it forms a smooth paste.
    • If and when required, add a little of the water drained from the soaked black gram.
    • Do not add too much water. Just add a little at a time and patiently grind the batter till it is smooth and thick.
  8. Take the batter out in a large vessel.
  9. Grind the soaked rice + beaten rice with a little of the saved water till it is ground fine.
    • If and when required, add a little of the water drained from the soaked black gram.
    • Do not add too much water. Just add a little at a time and patiently grind the batter till it is fine.
    • The rice batter will remain a bit grainy.
  10. Add the rice batter to the gram batter.
  11. Add salt to the batter.
  12. Use your hand to thoroughly mix the two batters together.
    • Ensure that the vessel is only about 1/2 filled because the batter will rise quite a bit after fermentation.
  13. Cover the vessel and set aside to ferment for at least 8 hours.
  14. Once the batter is fermented, mix once gently.

Method to Make Soft White Idlis in a Pressure Cooker

  1. Remove the weight from the lid of the pressure cooker.
  2. Add enough water to the pressure cooker.
    • Do not place the lid on the cooker.
  3. Set the heat on high and let the water simmer.
  4. Lightly grease the idli mould.
  5. Fill each idli slot till it is just full or just short of being full.
  6. Place the idli stand in the cooker.
  7. Close the lid and let it steam for 8-10 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat and let the idlis rest for about 10 minutes.
  9. Open the cooker and take the idli stand out.
  10. Let it rest for 2-3 minutes,
  11. Take the soft white idlis out of the mould.
  12. Serve hot with sambar, senaga pindi pachadi, coconut chutney, and/or molaga podi.

Tips

  • The batter must ferment and almost double in size for the idlis to be soft and white.
  • The yellowish-ness of the idli is often because of inadequate fermentation and no other reason.

Idli Upma

Idli Upma
Idli Upma

Sometimes, I have leftover Idlis or a little leftover Idli batter. In either case, I use the resulting Idlis to make Idli Upma. This is a dish that tastes best when made with Idlis that are at least a few hours old.

I keep the extra Idlis in the an air-tight container and leave them overnight in the fridge.

Ingredients

  1. Idlis – 6
  2. Udad Dal/Minapappu – 1 tsp
  3. Mustard Seeds/Avalu – 1/2 tsp
  4. Red Chillies – 2 or 3
  5. Curry Leaves – 4 to 6
  6. Oil – 1 tsp
  7. Salt to Taste

Method

  1. Crumble the idlis into a coarse powder.
  2. In a kadai/wok, heat the oil.
  3. Add the mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  4. Add udad dal and fry till golden brown.
  5. Add split red chillies and curry leaves.
  6. Fry for a few seconds.
  7. Turn off the heat.
  8. Add the Idli powder and salt.
  9. Mix well.
  10. Serve warm with Kobbari Gulla Senaga Pappu Pachadi.