Healthy Idlis using Varagarsi ( Kodo millet )

For quite some time now I have been planning to use some healthy grains and substitute normal rice with Kodo millet / Varagarsi in Tamil.
Compared to rice, especially polished rice, millets release lesser percentage of glucose and over a longer period of time. This lowers the risk of diabetes . Millets are particularly high in minerals like iron,magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

This tiny white bead like almost resembling semolina or quinoa  but a little bigger is great to use in recipes such as porridge, Upma  and now am trying this in Idlis. Am beginning to wonder how I missed using this lovely millet. Recommended for diabetics and those suffering from hypertension.Info from Nutritious products .com

This is an old post which I updated with new pics as they were better than the previous ones. Now to the recipe.


3 1/2  cups    cups millets  ( Varagarsi/Kodo ) cleaned and washed well.otherwise your idlis will look dull.
1/2 cup idli rice ( or use only 4 cup kodo millets skipping the idli rice ).
1   cup Udad dal/Black gram
2   tsp fenugreek seeds
3 tbsp  poha ( beaten rice flakes ) washed, soaked in a cup.

Use the same cup to measure .

salt to taste  to be added to batter.
Water as required for grinding Idli batter.


You will notice , to make idlis we are just substituting rice with millets, proportions are the same as we do for normal Idlis.
Soaking time is also less. Soak both the millets and udad dal separately. Soak the millets for 3 hours and the udad dal with poha and methi seeds for 2 hours minimum.
Then first grind the udad dal with methi and poha to a smooth consistency as we do normally for regular idlis.
Grind the millets either to a very smooth texture or a slightly grainy texture. I prefer the grainy texture .Do not add too much water to millets while grinding to avoid a watery batter.It also  grinds very quickly in the mixie jar itself. 
Mix both the batter well with hand and keep covered overnight to ferment as we do for Idlis..The batter would have risen but not so much like the normal batter but well enough to give soft spongy idlis.
After fermentation, mix the batter slightly, thin it a bit only if necessary and prepare the idlis using greased idli plates and steam for 12 minutes.

Enjoy soft fluffy healthy Idlis with your favourite chutneys , sambar or chutney powder.

See the chart below for more info on millets.

Kodo millet pic

More about Millets

What are millets?

Millets are
small-seeded grasses that are hardy and grow well in dry zones as rain-fed
crops, under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. Millets are
one of the oldest foods known to humans and possibly the first cereal grain to
be used for domestic purposes.
Millets are also
unique due to their short growing season. They can develop from planted seeds
to mature, ready to harvest plants in as little as 65 days. This is important
in heavily populated areas. When properly stored, whole millets will keep for
two or more years.

Why eat millets?

They are highly
nutritious, non-glutinous and not acid forming foods. Hence they are soothing
and easy to digest. They are considered to be the least allergenic and most
digestible grains available. Compared to rice, especially polished rice,
millets release lesser percentage of glucose and over a longer period of time.
This lowers the risk of diabetes.
Millets are particularly
high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Finger millet
(Ragi) is the richest in calcium content, about 10 times that of rice or wheat. 
What kinds of millets are

• Barnyard Millet (Hindi:
Jhangora; Tamil: Kuthiravaali; Telugu: Odalu)
• Finger Millet (Hindi:
Mandua; Tamil: Kelvargu; Telugu: Ragulu; Kannada: Ragi; Malayalam: Koovarugu)
• Foxtail Millet (Hindi:
Kangni; Tamil: Tenai; Telugu: Korra; Kannada: Navane; Malayalam: Thina)
• Kodo Millet (Hindi:
Kodra; Tamil: Varagu; Telugu: Arikelu; Kannada: Harka)
• Little Millet (Hindi:
Kutki; Tamil: Samai; Telugu: Sama; Kannada: Same; Malayalam: Chama)
• Pearl Millet (Hindi:
Bajra, Tamil: Kambu, Telugu: Gantilu, Kannada: Sajje)
• Proso Millet (Hindi:
Barri; Tamil: Panivaragu; Telugu: Varigulu; Kannada: Baragu)
• Sorghum (Hindi: Jowar;
Tamil: Cholam; Telugu: Jonna; Kannada: Jola; Malayalam: Cholum)

How do we cook
Most millets can be
cooked like rice. Millets can replace rice in various dishes such as idli,
dosa, payasam/kheer. Millet flour can be used to make rotis..We can easily pressure cool them like rice but with fewer whistles as they cook pretty fast.

Millets are small seeded
grasses giving us grains which are healthy. They grow easily in drought like
conditions also.

• They release sugar
slowly – enough time for our body to produce required insulin. This is mainly
because the coat of the grain is intact and we take whole grain and not
polished one.
• They are nutritious –
well balanced at that – fibre,protein, iron etc.

Info from Millets .org and Healthy eating sites from Internet.



  1. says

    Awesome. Cant wait to try it out. Can u please pist a picture of the Millet you used? not sure what is looks like. I googled but see different kinds.
    Also the chana dal you used formaking chutney, is it the raw one used for cooking? Will roasting it a little remove rawness?

  2. says

    Trying it out today. But I have used 1 cuo millet, 1cup idli rice and half cup poha with 1 cup dal. Hope the ratio is ok. Also my batter became thin. Will it ferment well?

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