Ragi Idli Recipe (Finger Millet Idli)

Ragi Idli is a healthy, nutritious South Indian Vegetarian Breakfast Recipe made with whole Ragi or Finger Millet. Step By Step Recipe to make perfect Ragi Idli Batter, with tips on fermentation, batter consistency for pillow soft and spongy idlis.

Ragi Idli Recipe (Finger Millet Idli)

I am back with a nutritious and healthy South Indian Breakfast recipe called Ragi Idli. Mind you, this Ragi Idli Recipe is not the instant version nor uses Ragi Flour. This Ragi Idli Recipe is made with whole Ragi or Ragi Seeds, that is soaked, ground and fermented along with Rice and Urad Dal.

These Ragi Idlis are fluffy, soft, spongy and light. Can be eaten for breakfast with a side dish or Molagapodi and / or as an early dinner too with a vegetable loaded Sambar.

Soft and Fluffy Ragi Idli for Breakfast
Soft and Fluffy Ragi Idlis for breakfast

Side Dish for Ragi Idli

Having received great response for my Idli Recipe (the traditional recipe with white rice), I was asked by few readers to post some varieties of Idli that are healthy, diabetic friendly and would also encourage children to include them in their diet.

Since I make Ragi Idli often at home, I thought of documenting the process for the blog and also summarized a detailed recipe with a lot of notes.

This post also contains the most frequently asked questions about Idli Batter Consistency, Fermentation techniques and additional queries that were asked by readers. I have tried my best to answer everything and hope you find it useful, the next time you make any Idli Batter.

What is Ragi?

Ragi is Finger Millet and quite rich in nutrients. It is called Nachni in Hindi. India is the largest producer of this millet and thanks to the recent and now growing focus on millets, this is now consumed world wide due to its health benefits across all age groups.

Health Benefits of Ragi

  • Rich in calcium and high in fibre – This Gluten Free millet keeps you full for longer.
  • Excellent for diabetics, Growing kids
  • Growing up, we were fed Ragi Koozhu or Kanji as baby food. This is quite common in South India and my mother followed the same too.

Disclaimer – Do not forget to take your doctor’s advise before adding or subtracting ingredients from your diet.

Ragi Idli Recipe with whole Ragi Seeds
Spongy Idlis

Source

Idli is appreciated world over as the most healthy breakfast due to low oil content, fermentation that increases the nutrition value and the ease of preparation, especially for busy mornings. Once the batter is ready, all you need is 5 minutes to prep the steamer and your breakfast would be ready in 20 minutes.

You are free to do your chores and 20 minutes later, breakfast would be ready to serve. Best part is you can store the batter for longer in your refrigerator and that keeps you sorted for few days. With the same batter you can make Onion Uttapam, Paniyaram or Appe which serve as excellent kids tiffin box treats or after school snack too.

This Ragi Idli Batter is multipurpose. You can use this batter to make Dosa as well by adjusting the consistency (adding water to the batter). I usually make idlis for couple of days and then switch over to dosa.

How to Make Ragi Idli Batter

Like I mentioned above, this batter is made by using the ragi millet (seeds) and not the flour. The proportion of Rice in this batter is less as compared to the traditional idlis. (1 cup is 125 ml measurement and yields 18 idlis)

  • We require 2 cups of Ragi, 1 cup of Rice (Idli Rice used here) and 1 cup of Urad Dal with 1/4 tsp of Methi Seeds.
  • Soak the rice with Ragi and Urad Dal with methi seeds. Soaking time should be atleast 6-8 hours.
  • After soaking, drain the water (some retain it too, but I avoid).
  • Grind the Ragi and Rice together and the Urad dal with methi seeds.
  • Mix both the ingredients with hands gently (clockwise/circular motion) for atleast 5 minutes.
  • Keep the batter aside for fermentation by covering with a plate. I tend to also place a wide plate below the bowl so that excess batter, if overflows, doesn’t go waste.
  • Fermentation takes anywhere between 8 to 10 hours. Ensure the bowl is not disturbed and kept in a warm place. (more on this below)

Note – In case you do not have Idli Rice, you can opt for any short grain rice variety like Sona Masuri, Kolam etc too. The result would be same. 

NoteIf you do not have access to the whole Ragi Seeds, you can make the batter with 1 cup Rice, 3/4th cup Urad Dal, 1/2 cup poha and 1 cup Ragi Flour. Add the Ragi flour to the batter of rice, urad dal and poha. Rice, Urad Dal and Poha needs to be soaked and ground like regular idli batter and the ragi flour needs to be mixed well and set aside for fermentation.

Ensure you mix the flour completely into the batter. In this case, chances are the batter would be slightly dense. You may have to add some cooking soda (even after fermentation) to improve lightness.

However, I prefer the whole seeds instead of flour as it turns out soft, just like regular Idlis.

What if Idly Batter is too watery?

  • Ensure you drain the soaked water, add some water only up to the point it covers the grains slightly (as seen in the pic above). Do not add any more water until the batter is smooth.
  • However, if you accidentally add more water to the rice and ragi mixture, ensure you add couple of tablespoons of water while grinding the Urad Dal Batter. Keep it thick and then mix, it would adjust.
  • If you still feel the batter is watery, add 1/2 cup of soaked and ground poha, aval or flattened rice to the batter. Alternatively, you can add 1/2 cup of cooked rice (mix it in the grinder in to a lumpy paste). Do not add water while grinding these ingredients. Add this to the batter, mix well and keep aside for fermentation.

Some Tips to Ferment the Idli Batter

I would urge you to read my post on Idli Recipe for all the basic tips for fermentation before reading the below points. These points are enumerated below based on the feedback or queries from readers.

  • If you are in India, fermentation is generally not an issue. However, my readers or even my friends who stay abroad, often complain about the batter not fermenting even after 10 to 12 hours, sometimes overnight.
  • A great option for such people and climate is Instant Pot (it has settings to ferment). However, since I do not own it, I can only suggest the techniques I have practiced over the years and even recommended to some of my friends.
  • In cold countries, ensure your batter is kept in an oven with light on.
  • If you do not have an oven, you can keep the batter in a pressure cooker too. Ensure the pressure cooker is clean, has no water below. I follow this method during winters when it is sometimes difficult to ferment the batter.
  • If your batter has still not fermented after 10 to 12 hours, Add 1/4 tsp of Baking Soda, mix lightly and steam your idli. With the rest of the batter, you may make dosa or Uttapam. You can alternatively add Eno Fruit salt, say 1/2 tsp. Note – This measurement of soda is for the batter quantity stated above.

After the batter has fermented, add salt and mix it lightly, do not apply pressure by whipping the batter rigorously.

Meanwhile, prepare your steamer, grease your plates and pour the mixture.

Common Mistakes while Steaming – Why my Idli’s turn hard or crack on top while steaming?

  • One of the most common mistakes is the idlis cracking from top while steaming or turning hard. It is because of excess batter and no space for the idli to expand or rise while steaming.
  • Always pour little quantity of batter, allow it to naturally spread. Add more, if required.
  • If you feel the batter is too thick, always add water with a spoon. Batter should be dropping consistency yet thick.
  • Pour the batter only when the steamer is completely ready. Do not place your batter inside the steamer and then switch it on for steaming.
  • Steam Idlis for atleast 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Never be in a hurry to open the steamer and/or demould the idlis from the plate. Allow it to cool down slightly.
Easy to Make Ragi Idli, Nachni Idli or Finger Millet Idli
Pillow Soft Idli texture
Spongy and Light Home made Ragi Idli
Perfectly cooked Ragi Idli
Ragi Idli recipe

Ragi Idli Recipe (Finger Millet Idli)

Ragi Idli is a healthy, nutritious South Indian Vegetarian Breakfast Recipe made with whole Ragi or Finger Millet. Step By Step Recipe to make perfect Ragi Idli Batter, with tips on fermentation, batter consistency for pillow soft and spongy idlis.
3.5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian
Keyword: Finger Millet Idli, low oil recipes, Nachni Idli, Ragi Idli Recipe, Ragi Recipes, South Indian Breakfast Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Fermentation: 10 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 18 Idlis

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Ragi or Finger Millet / Nachni 1 cup is 125 ml measurement
  • 1 cup Rice Idli Rice used here
  • 1 cup Urad Dal
  • 1/4 tsp Methi Seeds or Fenugreek Seeds
  • Water as required for soaking and grinding
  • 1-2 tsp Oil to Grease the Idli plates for steaming I have used sesame oil
  • Salt to taste Check notes below

Instructions

  • Soak the rice with Ragi and Urad Dal with methi seeds. Soaking time should be atleast 6-8 hours.
  • After soaking, drain the water (some retain it too, but I avoid). Grind the Ragi and Rice together and the Urad dal with methi seeds.
  • Mix both the ingredients with hands gently (clockwise/circular motion) for atleast 5 minutes.
  • Keep the batter aside for fermentation by covering with a plate. I tend to also place a wide plate below the bowl so that excess batter, if overflows, doesn't go waste.
  • Fermentation takes anywhere between 8 to 10 hours. Ensure the bowl is not disturbed and kept in a warm place.
  • Once the batter is fermented, add salt to taste, mix lightly and keep aside (Avoid rigorous mixing as it would lead to dense idlis)
  • Prepare the steamer by heating some water and then grease the idli plates with oil
  • Carefully pour the idli batter on to the plates and steam them for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Do not open the steamer immediately. Allow it to rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Remove the Idli Plates and once they cool slightly, demould them with a sharp knife or spoon
  • Serve piping hot with chutney of your choice.

Notes

  • Ensure you keep the batter in a warm place for fermentation, undisturbed and covered.
  • It is ideal to place a plate below the bowl or vessel as the fermented dough might spill and lead to wastage (as you can see in the step by step images in the post)
  • Soak your grains (Rice, Ragi and Urad Dal) for longer (6 to 8 hours) or overnight for smooth idli batter, especially when using a mixer grinder. 
  • Mixing the ground batter gently for 5 minutes, aids in good fermentation. 
  • I avoid adding salt to the batter before fermentation, just like my mother did. It doesn’t affect fermentation nor in batter shelf life quality or taste. 
  • As stated above, this Ragi Idli Batter is multipurpose. You can dish out delicious Ragi Dosas with the same batter by adding a little water to achieve dosa batter consistency. However, once you add water, the same cannot be used to make Idlis. 
  • In case you do not have Idli Rice, you can opt for any short grain rice variety like Sona Masuri, Kolam etc too. The result would be same. 
  • This recipe yields 18 idlis and the batter stays fresh in the refrigerator for atleast 4-5 days. 

Other Varieties of Idli on the blog, which you may like to see –

  • Rava Idli / Semolina Idli – The Instant variety of Idlis which require no grinding or fermentation. Made for emergencies or weekends when you want to laze around. A favourite with kids too.
  • Kollu Idli / Horsegram Idli – Yet another nutrient rich recipe on the blog that uses less rice and more of Horsegram or Kulith and Urad dal. Soft and spongy Idlis, everytime!

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Thank you for visiting

Vidya Narayan

Views: 3527

Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hi Vidya,
    Will surely try the recipe. If grinding in grinder the ratio remains same?

    1. Hi, The ratio of ingredients and soaking time remains same whether you grind in the mixer grinder or your stone grinder. Just ensure you add water wisely while grinding. Do let me know how they turned out. Thank you for stopping by.

  2. 5 stars
    Hey Vidya….
    Thank you so much for the detailed recipe…have always tried the Ragi Dosa/Idly mix to make them..
    After seeing this post I immediately soaked the ingredients and made Idly the very best day…the best part was idlys were soft n fluffy even after a while…
    Also tried the dosa version …too yumm
    Once again thank you …keep sharing such healthy n easy breakfast menu recipes…

    1. Thank you for the wonderful feedback and glad you know you have ditched the ready mixes for the real deal! Healthy eating is totally fun and readers like you, reinforce this logic every single day.

  3. Hello,can we use rice flour,urud flour and ragi flour in the same ratio and make idli please?I have no whole ingredients but flour now but am very tempted to make it:)

    1. Hi, If you do not have access to the whole Ragi Seeds, you can make the batter with 1 cup Rice, 3/4th cup Urad Dal, 1/2 cup poha and 1 cup Ragi Flour. Add the Ragi flour to the batter of rice, urad dal and poha. Rice, Urad Dal and Poha needs to be soaked and ground like regular idli batter and the ragi flour needs to be mixed well and set aside for fermentation. If you are planning to use all flours, then I would suggest making a dosa instead. Soaking Urad Dal and Rice is crucial for a good Idli. Hope this helps. Do let me know.

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