Samai Idli – Steamed, Little Millet Cakes

Millets the natural food from the arid areas of southern India found their way into my cuisine over a period of time. This particular one has been used and tried and tested many times. If you are looking for a great way to substitute the rice out of your routine , little millets or Samai or Vrat ka chawal is a great alternative. With a lower  GI than rice, this is a welcome indulgence on breakfast mornings..

Soft fluffy Idlis served with piping hot mixed vegetable sambar ( recipe will be updated for this later )  , coconut mint chutney  and Idli chili  powder ( also known as Molagai podi or chutney powder). True weekend indulgence without alarming calories .

Samai Idli - Steamed, Little Millet Cakes


  • Samai arisi / little millet / Kutki  : 2 Cups
  • Urad dal / whole or split without skin : 1/2 cup
  • Red poha : 1/4 cup
  • Methi seeds : 1 tsp
  • Toor dal : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp + as required
  • Water as required to grind


  • Soaking the millets and pre prep : Soak for 6 hrs – overnight:
  • Wash the millets very well and soak in copius amount of water. Enough for it to be absorbed.
  • Wash the urad dal as well and  soak along with fenugreek or methi seeds and toor dal.
  • Soak the Poha about 20 minutes before you grind the batter. Infact you can soak it just as you start grinding the urad dal.

 Grinding the batter & fermentation: 1 hr + fermentation time

  • Grind the urad dal  and methi seeds and toordal  in your mixer grinder or wet grinder until pale and fluffy. Add water in small quantities while you grind.
  • Scoop out the fluffy dal mix in a wide and deep mixing bowl.
  • Next add the soaked poha and samai millet and grind to a fine grain mix. There is no need to to grind it to a super fine paste. A little grainy structure would yield a preferable texture for the Idlis. So add water as and  when required while grinding.
  • Mix this along with the urad dal batter and add salt . Ensure salt is homogeneously mixed.
  • The consistency of batter is neither too thick or watery.
  • Cover and keep in a warm place .
  • Fermented batter will swell in volume so make sure your mixing bowl can handle the volume.
  • Hot humid weather will  speed up the fermentation process. So it might take anywhere from 7 hrs to overnight for your batter to reach the desired stage of fermentation.

Steaming the Idlis:

  • Grease Idli moulds and keep aside.
  • Using the steamer/ cooker of your choice add the water and heat it well.
  • Stir the batter well scoop ladlefuls on to the prepped idli moulds.
  • Steam for about 7-10 minutes.
  • Turn of the flame, rest it for a minute or two. You should be able to demould it now.

Serve hot accompanied with chutney, sambar and chutney/ Molagai podi.


  • This batter makes awesome dosas well. I tried it out and it was really good.
  • Makes about 32-40 Idlis depending on the size of the idli mould. 
  • Fermentation of the batter is essential to maximize the nutritional value of the millet.

Millets and Red Rice Flour Dosa(i) – Instant and Nutritious

A quick post on a traditional recipe..

Millet is not just a more affordable  alternative to the more common grains like rice and wheat, it is also  a good source of some very important nutrients, including copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. The fact that this can grow in the arid climates is a boon in many of the developing nations of the world. Known as Kambu in tamil and Bajra in hindi, this grain has found a permanent place in our pantry.

A quick and easy flat Crepe/ Dosai that served a good portion of your nutritious needs in one shot. As part of the traditional south indian household, certain dishes hold a special place and Dosai is one such thing. This particular one uses certain dry flours readily available in the household and is a quick prep one. No added soda, eno or any leavening agent . Just mix of flours, yoghurt and seasonings.

Bajra Red Rice Instant Dosai

 Prep time : 10 min  Resting time : 15 minutes    Serves : 4-5

Ingredients :

  • Bajri Flour ( Pearl millet flour ) – 1 cup
  • Red rice Flour – 1/2 cup ( if not available use plain rice flour)
  • Flaxmeal : 1/4 cup
  • Rava/ Sooji : 1/4 cup
  • Sour Curd : 3/4 cup
  • Whole Wheat Flour : 2-3 Tbsp.
  • Water : 1/4 cup + more required for consistency
  • Hing / Asafoeida : A generous pinch
  • Cumin seeds : 1 Tbsp.
  • Black pepper Crushed : 6-8
  • Cilantro : 1/4 cup, chopped finely
  • Ginger grated : 1 inch ( optional)
  • Green Chilies : 4 ( finely chopped ) – optional
  • Salt : 1 tsp + to taste
  • Gingelly oil / sesame oil / oil of your choice to make the dosas.

Preparation :

  • Mix the fry ingredients along with the dry spices initially and the salt and whisk it well.
  • Beat the yoghurt with water and add it to the mix. Add additional water if necessary to make it to the dosa batter consistency.
  • Add the chopped cilantro and grated ginger and chilies if using.
  • Whisk it well again and let it sit aside for 15 minutes.

Making the Dosa(i)

  • Heat  a nonstick or a well seasoned flat  crepe pan on medium heat.
  • Stir in the Dosa(i) batter and pour ladlefuls to make the crepes.
  • Dot the edges with sesame oil or oil of your choice.
  • Let it cook till reddish brown before you flip to the other side. (This is cooked on both sides)
  • Serve hot with chutneys or idli chutney/chill powder or molagaipodi.

Nutritious, quick and made in a jiffy!


  1. Resting the batter for 15 minutes or so is essential for the dry flours added to soak up the liquid and for faster cooking as well.
  2. Sour yoghurt/ curd will enhance the taste of the dosa (i).
  3. Adding the ginger and chilies is optional but they do add to the flavors.
  4. Sesame oil or Gingelly oil is traditionally used in South India for cooking of Dosai and definitely kicks it up another notch.
  5. Cooking on medium high heat is highly recommended.

Perfect for breakfast and add a refreshing Orange Banana Smoothie and your are power packed for the day !

Bajra Red Rice Instant Dosai


Rava Idli’s – Quick and easy royal fare on a budget!

I quite honestly was not planning on writing a post on this one.  Today was the beginning of a long weekend  and I woke up craving filter coffee. For the uninitiated, the filter coffee process is a near sacred ritual in many south indian households including the one in which I grew up. This drip mechanism in which hot water percolates through fresh ground coffee is quite aromatic and then coupled with hot steaming milk and a pinch of raw cane sugar- Nirvana in a cup !

Steaming hot cuppa
Steaming hot cuppa

Well cravings not withstanding, I think my inner south indian also felt like having hot Idli’s.. And of course no Idli batter at home. ( cause someone was a headless chicken the entire week and so did not get to do the required prep work)

Well this quick mix will satisfy that and the best part is the super soft Idli’s that it yields. Perfect results with minimal efforts. Now only if my daily routine would mimic this..Tsk!Tsk!

 Steaming hot Idli’s with  a hot cup of filter coffee  and I yearn for  the sounds of the yesteryears.. Amma and Amma ( M.S Subbalakshmi)

Perfect Combo!
Perfect Combo!

 A super easy and quick method to make Sooji / Rava/ Semolina Idlis . Serve it with the accompaniment of your choice from chutneys to potato palya.

 Prep time : 10 – 15 minutes  Steaming /cooking time : 10 minutes    Yields : 16 steamed cakes  Serves : 4-6


  • Sooji/ Rava/ Semolina  ( medium )- 1.5 cups
  • Channa dal : 1 tsp.
  • Split Urad Dal : 1 tsp.
  • Hing: A big pinch
  • Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
  • Jeera : 1/4 tsp. ( optional)
  • Salt : 1 tsp + adjusted to taste
  • Green Chili : 1  (finely chopped)
  • Fresh Ginger : 1/2 inch ( finely chopped)
  • Curry leaves : 6-8  (finely chopped)
  • Cilantro : 1/8 cup ( finely chopped)
  • Cashewnut  quarters/ halves : 16
  • Oil : 1/2 Tbsp. + 1/2 Tbsp.


  • Plain Yoghurt : 3/4 cup
  • Water : 3/4  cup
  • Lemon juice : 1 Tbsp.

 Required before steaming:

  • Eno : 1 tsp. + 1 Tbsp. of water


  • In a big skillet, add in one tbsp. of oil and add the cashew nuts and fry it and remove it when golden brown.
  • In the same skillet , add in the hing, mustard seeds, channa dal and urad dal. Fry it for a minute or two.
  • Subsequently add in the green chilies, ginger, chopped curry leaves. Fry it well too.By now the channa dal and urad dal would have attained a nice golden brown hue .
  • Add in the 1.5 cups of rava and fry it too . Take care to not let it brown. Just a couple of minutes would do.
  • Remove the mix in a wide bowl.
  • Add in the salt and whisk it to ensure it is distributed well.Cool it for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Meanwhile grease the idli molds , place the cashew pieces in it and get the water steaming in the pressure cooker of your choice.
  • Add in the  beaten yogurt + water + lemon juice and mix it well to the cooled Rava mix.
  • The mix would be a little watery initially, but would absorb the liquid in a couple of minutes as the dry sooji rehydrates itself.
  • Just before steaming, add in 1 tsp. Eno and add in the tbsp. of water on it. You should see instant frothing which indicates Eno is active.  Stir it in for well. Do not over mix it as you will kill the activity of the leavening agent.
  • Distribute the wet batter into the 16 greased molds. Top with chopped cilantro.
  • Steam in for about 7-9 minutes. Turn off the flame and let it remain in the steamer for a minute.
  • Hot steaming and super fluffy Idli’s ready in a jiffy.
  • Serve it with tomato chutney, idli chutney powder or potato palya.


  • The batter mix should not be too thick or dry . You will have rock hard Idli’s then. Your batter should be wet and of a thick cake batter consistency.
  • Check to make sure the mix is to the right consistency and mixed well before adding the Eno salt.  Once added, just whisk it for 30 secs. to ensure even distribution and pour it into the molds.
  • You can add grated carrot or cooked peas as an variation. In fact this is such a blank slate, you can top it with almost any veggie of your choice or make it a stuffed one.
  • if your Eno salt is not active, then you will not have soft and fluffy Idli’s.

Barley dosa(i) and Pearl onion Sambar – Snowed in days and .. cabin fever results!

What do you do when get snowed in for like say 3 days ?

DH half stuck on the other side of the country ( might as well be the other end of the world.. cancelled flights and ice st(r)uck travelers..yikes ).. Anyways to beat the cabin fever blues and to make sure we do have something on hand to fuel the stomachs ( you know just in case, electricity plays truant ), yours truly decided to have a few basics or staples made . It was when I was foraging in the pantry , I noticed a neatly labeled container if whole barley  grains ( yes, yes, I have heard all bout my labeling obsession. You know I have been ragged on it incessantly , when you have  two cousin sisters who make you the butt of their jokes, you have heard it all.… I rest my case ).

I know Barley is pretty good as a diuretic and has a whole lot of other health benefits to it. But I had not really experimented with it much. When in doubt, dosa(i)s are a better bet than idles. No seriously, MTR has this multi grain instant dosa variation available at any Indian store . I mean how tough can it be right to make an alternative version at home.

Generally sticking to the proportions I normally use for dosa , I attempted the same here.

Basic FAQ :

Soaking time : 8 hrs or so.

Grinding and prep time : 30 min .

Fermentation time – based on climatic conditions. Seriously ,be nice to weather god, or fake it in the oven.

Cooking time : pretty quick …Devouring time : Instant

Requirements :

  • 2.5 cups of whole grain barley ( note, I used the grain.  Not the broken version or the flour )
  • 1 cup of Brown Basmati rice
  • 1 cup washed whole or split urad dal
  • 1/2 tsp of Methi seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of Toor dal

 Soaking Preparation:

  1. Wash the Barely grains well  to remove any gunk and soak it in copious amounts of water.
  2. Wash and soak the brown basmati rice as well in a separate container. Again make sure you have enough water covering the grains as you need them absorb it as much as you can.
  3. In a third container wash and soak the urad dal, methi seeds and toor dal together.

Grinding process:

  1. Grind the dals first to yield a smooth and fluffy batter. Remove it in a fairly large container in anticipation for enough room for fermentation volume increase.
  2. Next grind in the rice and the soaked barley . This grind would be quite smooth and you do have to take the time to grind it well. You will notice a good volume and  might even feel the batter to be very very smooth.
  3. The next stage is to mix in both the batters thoroughly . If you are not squeamish, your clean hand will do. If not use a ladle to mix it and salt it and set it aside in a warm dry place.

Fermentation and volume increase:

  1. After about 14-16 hrs you should notice the fermentation process has done its job ! The batter takes on a slightly frothy appearance at least on the surface and volume has increased.
  2. Now mix in the batter once again thoroughly and start making dosa(i)s…

Making the Dosa(i)

  1. In a pre heated flat non stick griddle (  cast iron works great too), drop a ladleful of the batter and swiftly swirl it to make concentric circles . The outcome resembles a crepe.
  2. Do the the edges with a bit of oil.
  3. After a min or 2 , when you notice browning on the underneath and color changes, flipt it tot he other side to finish the cooking


Serve them with idli chutney podi, any of the chutneys you normally make  or as in my case with a bowl of steaming sambar. ( recipe for sambar coming up soon)


16 bean dumplings of glory!

NC boasted of an insipid and listless weather. It did not quite make up its mind on the sunny scale and we the poor residents were left with drizzle and chills , and added winds. So what do you do on a cold and lousy weather day.  Adding to the list of variables, 3 kids with cranky temperaments in various level in the crank-o-meter scale .  And it being Navrathri, we were fast exhausting the tolerance for steamed lentils ( aka sundal). Coming to my rescue was a packet of 16 bean soup mix which I had bought some time ago. And this recipe was born !


  1. 16 bean soup mix – 2 cups ( check my notes for substitutions)
  2. Brown basmati rice – 1.5 cups
  3. ginger – 2 inches ( skinned )
  4. whole black pepper – 2 tsp ( but please adjust according to your spice levels)
  5. Byadagi chilli –  2
  6. Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  7. Fresh grated coconut – 2 tsp ( optional)
  8. Curry leaves – 2 healthy sprigs
  9. Coriander leaves – a fistful, washed and finely chopped.
  10. Salt : 1.25 tsp or to taste

Preparation time :

  1. Soak the 16 beans in sufficient water for 4 hours at least so it can get rehydrated very well. Soak it along with the ginger , black pepper,cumin seeds and red chillies.
  2. Soak the brown basmati rice in a separate bowl with sufficient water. 4 hours should do for this.


  1. Grind the beans soaked along with ginger, red chilies and black peppers to a coarse paste.
  2. Grind the soaked rice to a fine paste.
  3. Mix the two to yield a nice semisolid batter.
  4. Add salt , and finely chopped coriander and the curry leaves
  5. The batter is now ready for shallow frying, deep-frying or to make thin or thick pancakes.

Shallow frying process:

  1. If you own a mini pancake pan in cast iron or non stick for stove top cooking, cyber high five for you! . This is exactly what I use.
  2. Heat the pan, add a drop of oil  or more in case of cast unseasoned cast iron pan, drop in spoonfuls of the batter , just until the holes are 3/4 full.
  3. Make sure you cook in medium heat. You will know the pan is ready when you add the batter in and it sizzles !
  4. In about 2-3 min, you can find the edges browning , you can flip it over. I used a bamboo skewer ( make sure it is dipped in water) to ease the process.
  5. Once flipped, you can see the reddish golden orbs of goodness glistening.
  6. The bottom side should take another couple of minutes to cook.
  7. These are sizzling hot, make sure you wait a couple of minutes before you put it in your mouth.
16 bean pan fried dumplings
16 bean pan fried dumplings

Deep frying:

I will commend you on taking this bold step ! Oh ye brave soul, if you decide to go for this process , you just need to drop spoonfuls of batter in hot oil in a wok.

Points for consideration/Notes:

  • Make this more nutritious by adding grated carrots, zucchini, squash, chopped spinach etc.
  • Batter a little runny? No worries ! Add in a tbsp of rice flour. No rice flour at home ? Improvise. add in corn meal, wheat flour etc. Yes, the taste will differ , but you would you rather not try it before you decide?
  • Make think pancakes out of this. It’s quite yummy.
  • Don’t have 16 bean mix – add a variety of lentils that you have. This is protein packed , so a missing lentil or 2 or 5 should not matter.
  • Sprouted lentils, beans? is even better.