Millet Recipes, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Ragi (Finger Millet) Custard


We all make different variations of easy ragi pudding – cooking powdered ragi in water/milk with jaggery or sugar – an easy way to provide good nutrition to kids. This is a slightly more sophisticated, tastier, nutritionally beneficial custard made from whole ragi. It is soft and has a melt-in-the-mouth texture with the mild flavors of coconut milk and goodness of ragi. It is easy to make, uses minimal ingredients, has excellent nutrition and safe even for small children. Ragi is high in proteins and minerals. Since this sweet uses jaggery and not sugar, healthy amounts of it will not do any harm even to diabetics. Also, the use of minimal ingredients helps us enjoy the mild and natural flavors rather than multiple ingredients vying for attention. But what fascinated me most about this recipe is the use of jaggery and coconut milk rather than sugar and cow’s milk. The taste is completely different and mild when coconut milk is used. I would never even want to try the other version or think of shortcuts like using readymade coconut milk or ragi powder instead of grinding whole ragi. The custard tastes delicious only when made as described below. The soaking and grinding does seem like a lot of effort but trust me it isn’t and the taste will motivate you to make it again. The original recipe calls for extracting ragi and coconut milk separately but I have simplified it by grinding both together. This does not compromise the taste in any manner.

Whole Ragi / Whole Finger Millet – 1 cup
Grated coconut – 1-1/2 cups
Jaggery – 3/4 cups (adjust to taste)
Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp
Water as needed

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves 5-6

Soak the whole finger millet overnight (or 8 hours) in plain water. Wash and drain the water.
Add jaggery to a cup of water and let it melt. No need to heat this as we will be heating all the ingredients together later. Just let the jaggery dissolve in room temperature water. Sieve to remove any impurities and keep aside.
Add the soaked ragi into the mixer jar along with grated coconut. Add small quantities of water and blend well. If you are adding whole elaichi, you can add it along with the ragi and grated coconut. Transfer the blended mixture into a muslin cloth. Squeeze the contents in the muslin cloth and extract the milk out of the blended mixture into a cooking pan.

This step needs to be done thrice to extract the maximum milk from the coconut and the soaked ragi. Add small quantities of water, blend the mixture well, and then extract milk by squeezing the mixture through the muslin cloth. You will end up with a pan of light pink milk extract. (If you have access to cows near your house, you may give them the pulp remains of ragi and coconut. They will love it!)

Add the strained jaggery water into this light pink milk.


If you are adding powdered elaichi, you may add now. Keep the pan on fire and stir continuously. Keep the fire low and cook slowly. Do not stop stirring.


You will notice that the mixture starts thickening slowly.

When the whole mixture thickens, turn off the fire. Let it cool. Transfer to small bowls / moulds and refrigerate for about 4-5 hours. Custard is ready to be served.

Recipe courtesy – Ragi-Ragini: Chronicles from Aji’s Kitchen by Anjali Purohit

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Millet Recipes, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Little Millet (Samai) Idli and Dosa

Little MilletMillets are one of the oldest food crop cultivated by man. Millets have much more calcium, protein, and iron than rice and wheat. These poor man’s grains are high in fiber, rich in minerals, low fat, and gluten free also. Millets are not just good for you but for the environment as well. Millets can grow in dry lands and even in poor soil quality. They need only one-fifth to one-tenth of the water that rice and wheat cultivation needs. As if these reasons werent enough, most millets are grown organically because they are naturally pest-resistant!
Yet, a word of caution. Just as too much of anything is not good, consuming too much millets is also not good for health. All millets, in general, have giotrogenic effects and hence people with thyroid related problems need to be careful about how much millet can be included in their diet. Please consult your dietitian/doctor about this.

Post World War 2, India experienced severe food scarcity. My mother still remembers having to modify their diet from the staple of rice to wheat and millets such as chama. Little millet / Chama can be used to make nutritious and tasty idli / dosa. The below recipe makes soft and fluffy idlis that remain so even after 4-5 hours.

Little millet dosa

Little Millet (Same/Chama) – 2 cups
Whole Urad dal- 1/2 cup
Fenugreek seeds / vendhayam / uluva – 2 tsp
Beaten rice flakes / aval / avalakki / Poha – 1/2 cup
Water as needed
Salt to taste
Oil to grease the idli mould (I prefer sesame oil)

Preparation Time:
Soaking Time: 4-5 hours
Grinding Time: 20 mins
Steaming Time: 15 mins
Yield: About 30 idlis

Little millet idliPreparing the batter:
Wash the millet in water, drain, and soak in water overnight or for 4 to 5 hours.
Rinse, drain, and soak urad dal and 1½ teaspoon methi seeds together overnight or for 4 to 5 hours.
Five minutes prior to the grinding time, soak the beaten rice flakes in 1/2 – 3/4 cup water.

Drain the water from the soaked urad dal and methi seeds into a cup. Keep aside. You will need this while grinding.

Add the soaked urad dal and methi seeds into a mixer jar or a wet grinder. Add small quantities of the drained water from the urad dal and blend to make a smooth paste. Remove into a large deep bowl and keep aside.
Drain the water from the soaked millet. Discard the water. Add the soaked millet to the mixer/grinder. Add small quantities of water and grind to a smooth paste. Add soaked beaten rice flakes to this and grind well. Remove this mixture from the mixer and add this to the large deep bowl that contains the ground urad dal. Add adequate amount of salt. Use your right hand to mix the batter thoroughly. The batter should be neither too thin nor too thick.

Cover the bowl with a lid and keep the batter aside in a warm area for fermenting (approximately 8 hours but this may vary depending on regional temperature) If you live in colder regions, keep the area at a warm place, near a warm stove or place it inside the oven that was pre-heated to about 50 deg C and leave it overnight with the oven light on. The next morning, the batter would have risen well.

The next morning (or after 8 hours), stir the batter using a ladle and mix well.

Making idlis:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUse a cotton cloth to grease the idli molds with oil. Pour batter into each pit. Pour water into the steamer and gently lower the idli molds with batter into the steamer and close the lid. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove the idli mold from the steamer and place the molds on the kitchen counter for at least a minute. This is important. If you try to nudge the idlis out of the mold while it is piping hot, you will break them.
After allowing the idlis in the mold to cool off for about a minute, use a sharp edged spoon dipped in water to nudge the idlis at the edges and gently remove them from the mold.

Serve hot, soft, and fluffy idlis with chutney, sambar, or the Kerala style vegetable stew.

1. You can use the same batter to make crisp dosas also. You may need to add a little bit more water to the batter.
2. You can make idlis only on the first day of making the batter. If you refrigerate the batter and make idlis the next day also, you may not get the same soft and fluffy texture. The next day you may use the batter to make crisp dosas.

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Main Dish, Millet Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Thinai (Foxtail Millet) Appam and Potato Mappas

Potato Mappas and Thinai AppamNever before have I thought of, collected info and ingredients, prepared, and executed a recipe with such urgency and efficiency. Appam is one of my favorite breakfasts and I wanted to try appam with Foxtail/Thinai millet. I was really excited about this gluten-free and healthy breakfast option. Soaked the ingredients (randomly without any reference), ground the batter yesterday evening. I tried to think of what side dish to prepare and suddenly remembered the vendakka mappas (a type of Okra stew, a typical Kerala preparation) curry that used to be my favorite while living in Kochi. Being unfamiliar with the dish since this is not prepared in our region, I read some recipes online and tried the same recipe with potato instead of okra. Both appam and mappas turned out to be excellent. Had to share this immediately with Samagni readers.

Foxtail Millet Appam

Foxtail millet – 2 cups
Raw rice – 2 cups
Grated coconut – 1-1/2 cups
Cooked rice – 1-1/2 cups
Salt as needed
Water as needed
Sugar – 1 tsp (to be mixed with the batter next morning)
Yeast – 1 tsp (optional – i skipped this)

Preparation time: 10 mins
Soaking time: 4-5 hours
Grinding time: 10 mins
Fermentation time: Overnight (8-12 hours depending on the climate)
Makes roughly 20-22 appams

Soak the millet along with raw rice for about 4-5 hours. Using a mixer to grind this
along with grated coconut and cooked rice to a smooth paste by adding adequate amounts
of water. Make a batter of dosa battery consistency. Keep aside to ferment overnight. In
warmer regions, overnight fermentation is enough. But in colder regions, you may need to
add yeast and keep the batter at a warm place (near the stove or closer to the
refrigerator compressor). In the morning, add a teaspoon of sugar to the batter and mix

To learn how to make appams, click here.

I did not add yeast to the batter but yet it turned out fluffy and crisp at the edges. You may choose to add skip it.

Potato Mappas

Potato – 300 gms, peeled and sliced 1″ lengthwise
Onion – 2 medium, thinly sliced
Tomato – 2 medium, thinly sliced
Green peas – 1/2 cup (optional)
Ginger – 1 tsp, thinly sliced 1-inch pieces
Garlic – 1 tsp, thinly sliced 1-inch pieces

Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp (you may use whole ingredients)
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Pepper powder – ¼ tsp (optional)
Green chilies – 2
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut milk powder/coconut milk – 50 gms/1 cup (I used two 25 gm Maggi coconut milk
powder packets)
Salt as needed
Cardamom pod, clove, cinnamon (Optional)

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves 3-4

Heat oil (coconut oil is preferred because this is a Kerala dish) in a pan and add mustard seeds.
When mustard seeds splutter, add chopped ginger, garlic, slit green chilies, and curry leaves. Saute for a minute. If you are adding cardamom pod, clove, cinnamon, add it at this stage.
Add sliced onion and cook for 5 mins.
Add chopped tomatoes. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add all the masala powders, i.e., coriander, chili, turmeric, pepper, garam masala. Saute and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add chopped potato and green peas. Stir. Add a cup of water.
Empty one packet of coconut milk powder into one cup water to make a thin coconut milk. Add this to the vegetables. Close with a lid and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until gravy thickens and potatoes and green peas look well cooked. Add salt, cover and cook for 2 more minutes.

Mix the other coconut milk powder packet in half a cup milk. Add this thick coconut milk to the dish, simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from fire. Garnish with freshly ground pepper, if desired.

You may use some cashew nuts while making mappas. Soak the cashew in warm water for 5-10 mins. Grind to a smooth paste and add this to the gravy when you add the first set of coconut milk.

Bachelor-friendly, Everyday Simple Recipes, Millet Recipes, Snacks, Tiffin, Vegan

Jowar Sundal/Steamed Jowar Snack

SorghumJowar/Sorghum dates back to 3000 BC! Millets have been part of the Indian diet for thousands of years. When wheat and rice took over the markets, the humble millets got buried deep down. What was earlier eaten only by animals and the poor has suddenly gained a place among health foods. With nutritionist harping on innumerable benefits such as higher content of calcium, packed with iron, protein, and fiber, millets are climbing their way back up. Jowar is usually ground and the flour is used for rotis and in baking. Since jowar is gluten-free, making jowar rotis can be tricky. My friends at Aurovika organic store shared this innovative recipe. Simple, easy, and nutritious. Wish that restaurants would start serving stuff like this!

Although millets have a lot of benefits, a word of caution to hypothyroid patients. Please consult your doctor before consuming millets.

Jowar grains – 1 cup
Raw peanuts/groundnut – 1/2 cup (optional)
Cooking Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Urid dal – 1/4 tsp
Chana dal – 1/4 tsp
Hing/Asafetida – a pinch
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
Water – 1 cup
Grated/chopped coconut – 1 tbsp (optional)
Lemon juice as needed
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 30 mins (pressure cooking time)
Cooking Time: 5 mins
Makes 4 cups

Jowar sundalMethod: Rinse and wash jowar in water. Drain and add a cup of water to the jowar and pressure cook 4-5 whistles. If you plan to use raw peanuts also, pressure cook the raw peanuts in a separate vessel inside the pressure cooker (not in the same vessel as the jowar).

Heat an iron kadai, add oil and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, add urid dal and chana dal. When the dals turn pink, add hing and curry leaves. Add the cooked jowar and peanuts, add salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the fire. Add grated coconut. Sprinkle lemon juice and mix well. Serve hot as a snack.

You can also make variations to this by adding chopped onions, tomatoes, chopped coriander, chaat masala, and lemon juice to the cooked jowar and peanuts.

Recipe idea credits: Aurovika Organic Store, Bangalore.

Bachelor-friendly, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Main Dish, Millet Recipes, Vegan

Bajra Khichdi

Bajra is good for diabetics and helps maintain blood glucose levels. It has high fiber content and makes you full for a longer period of time thus reducing the tendency to snack. It is also good for the heart and reduces acidity problems. What’s more? Bajra can help you reduce weight. Bajra rotlas and bhakris are famous in the North.

Instead of rice and wheat, which is normally eaten thrice a day, I try to include bajra and ragi in my meals at least 3-4 times in a week, mostly as dosas. Bajra khichdi is something that I have picked up from Tarla Dalal’s recipe collection. Quick and nutritious yet super easy to make.

Bajra / Pearl millet – 1/2 cup
Yellow split mung dal – 1/2 cup
Oil / ghee – 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Tej pata /Bay leaf – 1 piece (optional)
Cinnamon / Dalchini – 1/2-inch piece (optional)
Hing powder / Asafoetida – 1/2 tsp
Haldi / Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves finely chopped – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 1

Wash and soak bajra in water overnight (8 hours). To increase the nutritive value, if you plan in advance, can even sprout the bajra. To sprout bajra, wash bajra, and soak in water for 8 hours. Drain all the water and keep the wet bajra in the same vessel. Keep it closed. You will notice sprouts in a day or 2. Wash sprouted bajra thoroughly, drain, and keep aside. Wash mung dal, drain and combine with the bajra. Add two cups of water (double of the combined quantity of bajra and mung dal) and pressure cook for four whistles. Allow the steam to escape naturally before opening the lid.
Heat oil/ghee in a kadai and add cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds crackle, add asafoetida, tej pata, dalchini, and turmeric powder. Turn off the fire. Add this to the cooked bajra and moong dal. Add salt and black pepper powder. Mix well. You can garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with raita.

Recipe courtesy: Tarla Dalal

If you enjoyed reading this recipe, please consider subscribing to this blog. It’s free and you will receive e-mail notifications with each updation.

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Main Dish, Millet Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Steamed Barnyard Millet Dumplings (Odalu Kozhukatai)

Kodo rice milletRecently there has been a hype about health foods like quinoa. Why look at videshi options when we have plenty of easily accessible, swadeshi, and cost effective options? Ragi, bajra, jowar, kodon, and the list goes on. Our villagers survived solely on millets before rice and wheat took over. For the same reason, during those times, lifestyle diseases were unheard of and people were healthy, energetic, and lived long and strong.
Barnyard millet

Millets have much more calcium, protein, and iron than rice and wheat. These poor man’s grains are high in fiber, rich in minerals, low fat, and gluten free also. Millets are not just good for you but for the environment as well. Millets can grow in dry lands and even in poor soil quality. They need only one-fifth to one-tenth of the water that rice and wheat cultivation needs. As if these reasons werent enough, most millets are grown organically because they are naturally pest-resistant! Can you beat that?
So it is established that millets are miracle grains. Now what? How do we include them in our diet? Earlier I had written about sprouted ragi dosa and sprouted bajra dosa. To break the dosa monotony, here are steamed dumplings made of barnyard millet. Simple, easy to make, and great for health.

Barnyard Millet/Odalu/Varagarisi – 1 cup
Water – 2-1/2 cups
Onion – 1 (optional)
Carrot – 1 small (optional)
Green chilies – 3
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup
Oil – 1 tsp
Asafetida – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
Chana dal – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Serves 3-4

Wash the millet in water thoroughly. Drain and keep aside. Peel and chop onion and carrots finely. Slit the green chilies. On a thick bottom pan, pour oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to crackle, add urad dal and chana dal. When the dals turn red, add slit green chilies, asafetida, curry leaves, and chopped onion. When the onion turns pink, add finely chopped carrots. Saute for two minutes. Add 2-1/2 cups of water. Add salt. When the water starts boiling, stir in the washed millet. Keep stirring until it thickens. When the water has reduced and the millet, vegetable, and water mixture has become thick like upma, turn off the fire. Add the grated coconut. Mix well and let it cool. At this point the millet is half cooked.

When the cooked millet mixture has cooled down, take handfuls of the mixture and make small balls.


Place on an idli stand and steam for about 10-15 mins.

Steamed barnyard millet dumplings

I prefer serving steamed barnyard millet dumplings with sambar for a tangy combination. You can serve it with coconut chutney. Little ones can have it with sugar also.

If you enjoyed reading this recipe, please consider subscribing to this blog. It’s free and you will receive e-mail notifications with each updation.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Millet Recipes, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Roasted Multigrain Laddu

DSC01641.JPGMost traditional Kerala sweets are healthy and guilt-free – ari unda, ela ada, sweet dosa, and so on. They are not too rich or overwhelming yet utterly satisfying. Unni appam is the only exception that I can think of. Most other sweets including payasam (kheer) are rich in taste yet not fried or sinful.

Ari unda (Rice laddu) is an excellent traditional item that does not need any special expertise to make. If you are expecting guests at home and know that they will be staying over, this is an easy option to stock up. Since it has a week’s shelf life, it makes a wonderful gift item to take along with you while visiting a loved one. I tried my own version of ari unda by blending few other grains along with rice. Here is the recipe.


Parbolied Rice (Puzhukkal ari)- 1 cup
Whole Wheat/Broken Wheat – 1-1/2 or 2 cups
Green whole mung dal (cherupayar) – 1/4 cup
Ragi – 1/4 cup
Jaggery (grated) – 2-1/2 cup (as much as the quantity of grains. Adjust to taste)
Water – 1 cup
Grated Coconut – 1-1/2 cups
Cardamom – 4-5
Dry ginger powder/soonth/chukku – 1/2 tsp

Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 45 mins – 1 hr
Makes: 20-25 laddus

In a thick iron wok, roast the rice, broken wheat, green mung, and ragi separately until the raw smell is gone. The rice should turn crisp and golden brown. The secret to soft laddus is in the roasting of the grains. It has to be very well roasted until the rice breaks and pops up. Bite the roasted rice to see if it cracks easily. The other ingredients should change color and lose the raw smell. Remember to roast each ingredient separately because the roasting time for each is different. Remove from fire and let it cool.

Multigrain ladduGrind the roasted ingredients along with cardamom and dry ginger to a smooth powder. Keep aside. Grind the grated coconut in the mixer to a coarse powder. Do not grind too much as the coconut will turn into a paste. Stop grinding when the coconut becomes coarse. Transfer and mix well with the powdered grains.

Make jaggery syrup by adding a cup of water to the jaggery and heating it. When the jaggery is diluted, strain it to remove impurities. Then, boil the strained jaggery syrup to a string consistency. Turn off the heat. Add small quantities of jaggery syrup to the mixture of powdered grains and coconut. Add enough to moisten the powder. Taste a little bit of this mixture to check for sweetness. Add more jaggery syrup or powdered mixture as required to adjust to desired sweetness level. Use your palm to shape into small firm round balls. You can roll the shaped laddu on some dry powdered mixture to firm it up a little bit and make it less sticky. Repeat until all the blended mixture is made into small balls. Make sure that the jaggery syrup that you add to the powder is warm enough. For this, you may have to reheat the syrup depending on the time you take to shape the laddus. But you cant keep the syrup on flame all the while that you are making the laddu because that will make it too thick and sticky.

Transfer into an airtight container. This will last for 7-10 days. You can refrigerate this and use it for longer.

Multigrain Laddu

These sweet laddus are extremely flavorful with the aroma of roasted grains, smell of grated coconut, cardamom, dry ginger, and with its coarse yet soft texture, you will not stop at just one.