Ragi Idlis and Milagu Podi

Ragi Idli with PodiThis summer is a mixed bag. Not a lot of time left for cooking. Most days, by the time I am done fending for the house and my house guest, I am wiped. I have not done a lot of creative cooking or spent time on this site. We have been doing a lot of tiffin dishes like idlis and the like. I am learning to refie my cooking through Aunty’s critiques. These Ragi Idlis with Milagu Podi is an example of such learning.

Ragi Idlis are a notch above their snow white counterparts in complexity.

An idli is a naturally fermented sourdough bread that is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast. The naturally gluten-free batter incorporates lentils and rice and gives you a great fresh start to the day. A podi  is a dry chutney or spice blend that can be made ahead and stored.  It is good to have on hand when you do not have the time to make fresh chutney. Perfecting my podi game, has taken some feedback from my house guest. We have currently settled on this version. All of this has helped discover another way to actually learn cooking.

Ragi Idli and Milagu Podi

I have also learned the joys of having an abundant supply of dosa/idli batter handy, the possibilities are endless. From meals for my house guest, to quick meals for kids, dads and then some this is one good thing to have handy. And once you realize the magic of podi, you are all set and squared away.  This variation uses ragi, or finger millet flour in the batter notching up the nutritional level many good levels.

Ragi Idli

There are many ways to make these idlis, I simply add in a cup of ragi flour to my regular idli batter, and ferment it the regular way. I will say that the ragi idlis harden a little more easily so I try to avoid making too many of them at the same time. The beautiful dark purple brown hue is very pretty and brightens your morning plate.

Ragi Idlis and Milagu Podi

Prep Time: 18 hours

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 18 hours, 20 minutes

A nutritious and healthy traditional South Indian breakfast recipe that is vegan and gluten-free,


    For the idlies
  • 1 and 1/2 cups idli rice
  • 1/2 cup urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup ragi flour
  • For the podi or dry chutney
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup channa dal (yellow gram dal)
  • 1/2 cup urad dal (white lentils)
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafotida
  • 15 dried red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar or powdered jaggery
  • 1 tablespoon amchur powder (I use this instead of tamarind)


  1. Soak the rice and the urad dal separately for at least 6 to 8 hours. Grind the urad dal with a little (about 1/4 cup) water until smooth and very fluffy. This is essential to a soft idli. Place in a large non reactive container.
  2. Grind the rice with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water until smooth with just a little sandy texture. Mix with the ground urad dal and salt. Stir in the ragi flour and mix well. I like to use my hands to mix in the batter.
  3. Cover and place the batter in a warm place for at least 8 hours. The batter will be forthy and smell lightly sour when ready.
  4. Grease the idli mould and add in the batter. Do not overfill.
  5. Steam for about 15 minutes or 25 minutes in the instant pot (like I did). Let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
  6. To make the chutney podi, heat the oil and in add in the channa dal, urad dal, asafetida and the chilies, coriander and cumin and roast until gently browned and fragrant. Add in the sesame seeds and the jaggery and amchur powder. Cool slightly and grind to a powder.
  7. Store the unused powder in a cool airtight jar. Serve the idlies hot with the podi.


Most of the prep time is for soaking and fermenting the grains



  • Fred Rickson

    Idlis remind me that on my first of many visits to India and Sri Lanka (1970s) for biology projects, I fell in love with an idli breakfast thali plate. So much so that I bought a three-tired idli steamer on the streets of Bangalore for a couple of bucks. Then paid PanAm $100.+ to air freight it back to Oregon. Still have it, and still love using it.

      • Fred Rickson

        Yes, back in 1972 I couldn’t find an Indian market….now, living in Tucson, Arizona we have four Asian markets in town. Each has stacks of idli makers. I also sent back a large hammered brass kitchen water pot, bought in a village, for five dollars as I remember. I think PanAm got about $125. To get that one home.


%d bloggers like this: