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The Best Millet Idli Recipe Ever! Enjoy with Sambhar, Chutney and a Spoonful of Story!

It’s not often that I share recipes here, even though I’ve felt compelled at times. I’ll be honest, part of the reason why I don’t is it’s not all that exciting to write down a step-by-step ingredients and process kind of article. It’s not real writing for me – something that stimulates me.

And yet, I feel I should share my kitchen and dinner table with you all, especially since we’ve gone vegan and brought about other interesting changes in food. There’s so much innovation and tinkering happening in my kitchen. Pari, my 12-year old daughter, is passionate too, about cooking and baking. Check out her recent food post – vegan, gluten-free lemon bars.

Starting from no dairy to zero sugar to lesser and lesser gluten, and an array of millets, my kitchen is a versatile and dynamic character.

So, starting with this simple millet idli recipe, why don’t I bring share more food and recipes to get us all thinking about food in all its wholesome hues, flavours, textures and value.

About this millet idli, you know when Pari, who’s not quite fond of idlis, told me, “this is the best idli I’ve ever eaten” and then went on to relish six idlis with a handful of chutney (dip), I knew I must share on the blog.

The recipe is simple. There’s a healthy twist to it though.

And, they turned out so light and fluffy and exploding with heavenly aroma of fermented urad.

Instead of rice, I used Proso millet.

And, instead of the broken white Urad dal (split black gram), I used whole black Urad (the husk intact).
I don’t see any sense in discarding the fibre of the food by opting for dehusked grains or lentils.

Ingredients: (this makes about 34 idlis)

Black whole Urad and Proso millet in the proportion of 1: 2
(That is – Urad one katori/bowl. Proso 2 bowls).

One teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)

1/2 cup red poha (beaten red rice). You can use the regular white poha too.

Salt. Coconut oil for greasing the idli plates.


  1. To make for breakfast/lunch, I soak these two separately in the morning (the idlis will be ready for next day breakfast or lunch.
  2. Throw in the fenugreek seeds into the soaked millet.
  3. Late evening, soak the poha 30 minutes before you plan to grind the Urad and Millets
  4. Then, drain the water from the soaked urad and millets and wash them rubbing nicely to discard any phytic acid.
  5. Grind them both separately with fresh water. Note that millets need less water to turn into a batter consistency. So, add bit by bit. Or, your batter will turn out runny.
  6. When grinding millets, add the soaked and washed poha. Grind the millets a little coarse.
  7. The Urad needs to be smooth but not super smooth. That might make the idlis sticky and dense.
  8. Mix both the batter – the urad and the millets. Add salt as per taste.
  9. Let them sit overnight (or a few hours, depending on the temperature in your place/house)
  10. Next day morning, spoon the batter onto the idli moulds (not upto the brim) and steam for 10-12 minutes. Once done, remove the plates and let cool down before you scoop out the idlis.

The Sambhar:

I made the sambhar using home-made sambhar masala and for vegetables, I added okra (ladyfinger/bhindi) and yellow capsicum. Why ladyfinger, one might wonder. Believe me, it adds delicious aroma as well as texture to the sambhar. I’d like to add that I make sambhar with various kinds of dals (lentils). But, primarily with either arhar dal (split pegion pea) or dhuli moong dal (split and washed green gram or petite yellow lentils as some call it).

The Chutney (the coconut dip).

This is the best part of eating idli or dosa, I feel. A coconut chutney is all raw, all vegan – super yummy and healthy. To make this one, I grinded coconut chunks with one medium-sized onion, a bunch of curry patta (curry leaves), bit of tamarind and himalyan pink salt. I make various combinations – coriander leaves instead of curry patta. Even mint (check this out I’d shared years back) Or, Italian basil. I also like a version with roasted bengal gram (chana dal) or sesame seeds. So, don’t stop at one when you can go on whipping up a new chutney each time.


Talking about food, just a little story. The other day, an unschooling, artist friend – Hema Bharadwaj – who’s been making Goddess/Devi clay masks these days, had posted one of her creations and asked people to send her their favorite Devi/Goddess names or stories. From any part of the world. She also asked to share why they loved her – that specific Devi avatar – any unusual story associated with the goddess. She mentioned that more info will help her get a sense of people’s personal connection with the goddess.

So, I shared too. And, in that moment, the Devi name that came up in my consciousness was Devi Annapurna. Annapurna – the provider of food and nourishment. This was my childhood name too!
Anna – grain. Pūrṇa (पूर्ण) means full, complete or perfect.

She prodded. “Tell me more. Why do you love her?”

And, I wrote back:

“I don’t know. This name (avatar) of the Devi came to my consciousness immediately in the moment. And, I instantly related because this is how I associate myself as a person too. I love food, I love to eat thoughtfully, slowly, I love to cook – gently, engrossed, mindfully, passionately. I care about my family’s tastes, likes, dislikes, nutrition. I can go on talking about how I feel on this topic. I only need to be spurred on. Like you did right now…”

How do you relate with food? Do you love to cook? Do you get the time to experiment, to make mistakes, make a mess and have fun while you do it, go wild in your kitchen? Are you a foodie?

I need help sustaining this blog…

Dear blog readers – It’s been exactly eight years now that I’ve been writing on this blog! Yes, eight long years and hundreds of articles. From art, creativity and learning; to food, health, gardening, travel, sustainable and mindful living, natural birth. In our un-schooling life, as we go on introspecting, questioning and evolving, I’ve strived to share our stories and experiences with as much honesty, care and sincerity as possible.

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Infact, I’d like to keep this blog ad free unless something truly meaningful comes across.
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