Tag Archives: Pearl Millet

Mushroom & Mixed Sprouts Bajra Idli/Pearl Millet Idli with Mushroom & Mixed Sprouts

Mushroom & Mixed Sprouts Bajra Idli

  • Difficulty: easy
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Mushroom & Mixed Sprouts Bajra Idli







another kooky idli recipe from my kooky collection

There are some foods which are my “go to” dishes simply because they are time saving, labour saving, healthy, delicious and versatile. Using the base as a foundation, I can experiment, add, subtract knowing that the end result will turn out just fine. Idli is one such item.

Once you get the hang of the basics of fermentation, making idlis is a doddle. Soak, grind, leave to ferment and once the batter is fermented, you are good to go. Let your imagination run wild and play around with different types of grains and vegetables.

Today’s recipe is made of pearl millet batter and includes mushrooms and mixed sprouts. The combination may sound unusual because we don’t usually associate mushrooms with recipes from the southern part of India (I say usually, there may be exceptions).

If you are a fan of mushrooms, definitely give this one a go. These idlis are denser compared to the conventional ones but are super healthy, super yummy and super satisfying.

Serve with sambar and/or chutney. I had mine with carrot and coconut chutney.


1/2 Cup bajra grains

1/4 Cup urad dal

1 Tablespoon brown or regular rice

1 Tablespoon fenugreek seeds

200 Grams button mushroom

1/2 Cup mixed sprouts

1 Tablespoon paste of green chillies and ginger

1-2 Tablespoons instant oats

Salt to taste

Ghee to grease idli moulds


  1. Wash and soak the bajra grains, urad dal, rice and fenugreek seeds for about 8 to 10 hours.
  2. Grind them into batter of pouring consistency.
  3. Leave the batter to ferment in a warm place.
  4. Fermentation can take anything from 6 hours to 36 hours.
  5. Once the batter is fermented, you are ready to make the idlis.
  6. Wipe/wash and roughly chop the mushroom.
  7. Add the mushroom, sprouts, paste of chilli and ginger, instant oats and salt to taste to the idli batter.
  8. Mix well.
  9. Grease the idli moulds with a little bit of ghee.
  10. Pour the batter into the moulds and steam for about 40 to 45 minutes. You know that the idlis are cooked if you insert a toothpick or a knife and it comes out clean.
  11. Once cooked, remove the moulds from the steamer and let the idlis rest for about 5 minutes.
  12. Gently run a toothpick or a knife around the edges of the idlis to loosen them.
  13. Enjoy hot.


Diabetic Friendly, Rice Free, Bisi Bele Bhath

Rice Free Bisi Bele Bhath

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Diabetic Friendly, Rice Free, Bisi Bele Bath








The other day, I had my friend Shamala and her husband Bachu over for dinner. Both have diabetes and Shamala doesn’t eat rice.

I decided to make bisi bele bhath, the famous one-pot meal of rice, lentils and vegetables from Karnataka.

Kind of ironic since Shamala doesn’t eat rice, right?! Well, in my kooky version, rice is replaced with diabetic friendly pearl barley and pearl millet (bajra).

Now I make bisi bele bhath (with rice) quite often and, if I am allowed to boast a little, today’s diabetic friendly version is just as good – if not better – than the traditional one. The best part, it got full marks from Shamala and Bachu who loved it.

some of the words I would use to describe bisi bele bhath: comfort food, crowd friendly, healthy, nutritious, balanced, delicious, satisfying

A couple of points on the vegetables and spice mix used in this recipe.

You can use any vegetables of your choice but avoid sticky ones like okra.

The traditional recipe does not call for onion or garlic so I have not included them either.

For the spice mix, I have used MTR bisi bele bhath masala. If you can’t get hold of it or want to make your own powder at home, click on this link and have your pick from the list of recipes.

Serve this with some savoury boondi or potato wafers/chips/straws and a dollop of ghee.

I didn’t serve any starters, just some Bombay mix with beer and wine. But I did make a diabetic friendly dessert which is coming up next!


3/4 Cup tuvar dal (pigeon pea)

1/4 Cup pearl barley

1/4 Cup pearl millet

1 Tablespoon fenugreek seeds

1 Green pepper

4 Ripe tomato

100 Grams french beans

100 Grams shelled green pea

1 Large carrot

1 Small head cauliflower

1 + 1 Teaspoon turmeric powder

1 Tablespoon rasam powder (optional)

2 Tablespoons bisi bele bhath powder

2 Tablespoons tamarind paste

1 Tablespoon mustard seeds

A large pinch of asafoetida

15-20 cashew

15-20 Curry leaves

1 Tablespoon oil

Boondi to sprinkle on top

Ghee to drizzle on top


  1. Wash and soak the tuvar dal, pearl barley and pearl millet along with fenugreek seeds for 6 hours.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste and boil the lentil and grains till they are soft and mushy. You can either do this in a pressure cooker or on stove.
  3. Now prep the vegetables.
  4. Chop the cauliflower into bite size pieces. Use the leaves and stalk if tender.
  5. Wash the green pea.
  6. Top, tail and cut the french beans into 1 inch pieces.
  7. Scrape, wash and chop the carrot into bite size pieces.
  8. Wash, de-seed, de-core and chop the green pepper.
  9. Wash and chop the tomato.
  10. Break each cashew into two.
  11. Heat the oil in a large pot.
  12. When it is hot, lower the heat and add mustard seeds.
  13. Once they start crackling, add the asafoetida.
  14. After about 10 seconds, add the curry leaves and stir for 30 seconds.
  15. Next, add the broken cashew and stir for a couple of minutes till the nuts turn a shade or two darker.
  16. Now, add the chopped green pepper, cover and cook for about 3 minutes.
  17. Uncover, add the chopped tomato, salt to taste, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  18. Uncover and add the chopped cauliflower, french beans, carrots and peas.
  19. Add the rasam powder (if using), turmeric powder and salt to taste.
  20. Mix well, cover and cook for about 15 minutes till the vegetables are tender.
  21. Uncover and add the boiled lentil and grains.
  22. Add the bisi bele bhat powder and tamarind paste.
  23. Add about 2 cups of water.
  24. Mix everything thoroughly.
  25. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
  26. Uncover, check for salt, spices and tamarind. If you feel it needs any of these, add a bit more according to your taste.
  27. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee and a sprinkling of savoury boondi or potato chips/wafers/straws .

Pearl Millet Pilaf with Mushroom & Red Pepper

A Nutty & Seedy Pilaf of Pearl Millet, Mushroom & Red Pepper

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pearl Millet Pilaf with Mushroom & Red Pepper








Wikipedia tells me that “pearl millet is the most widely grown type of millet.” Its roots lie in India and Africa. India is the largest producer of this grain which is also extensively used across the Sahel region and which is a staple of Namibia.

My introduction to pearl millet was by way of bajra roti (pearl millet flatbread) when I was growing up . Till a couple of years back, I would not have considered using the whole grain or its flour in any other type of cooking.

But since I have become an adventurous – albeit a rather kooky (!) – cook, I have started discovering and experimenting with new ingredients along with staples in my quest to make healthy and delicious meals. “Healthy” doesn’t have to mean dull and boring. And today’s pilaf recipe demonstrates just that.

Pearl millet is good for those with gluten allergy and the versatile cooked grains can be used as a base for pilaf, in stuffings, in soups, as a side dish, in puddings, in baked goods and even sprouted.

toasting the grains before soaking and boiling lends them a nice and nutty flavour

I like to consider this pearl millet pilaf recipe balanced as it includes vegetables (mushroom, red pepper, onion, celery and tomato), calcium (cheese), seeds (sunflower and pumpkin),  herb (parsley) and good fat (pistachio nuts and olive oil).


1/2 Cup uncooked pearl millet

200 Grams mushroom (button or any other variety)

1 Red Pepper

2 Onions

1 Garlic pod

2 Tomatoes

2-3 Stick celery

1-2 Birds eye chilli

A small bunch parsley (curly or flat-leaf)

1 Tablespoon shelled, unsalted pistachio

1 Tablespoon mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds

1 Tablespoon raisin

1 Tablespoon cheese of your choice

1 Tablespoon oil

1 Teaspoon sumac (optional)

1-2 Teaspoons paprika

2-3 Anchovy fillets (optional)

Salt to taste


  1. First we need to work on the pearl millet. Heat a wide base frying pan and throw in the pearl millet. Lower the heat and keep stirring till the grains release a nice and nutty aroma (about 5 to 7 minutes).
  2. Once the grains have cooled, wash and soak them for 8 to 10 hours.
  3. At the end of the soaking period, boil the grains in about one cup of water with a pinch of salt. They will take about 20 minutes to cook but keep checking. If you cook them in a pressure cooker, let them cook on high heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the cooked grains (add a squeeze of lime to the remaining liquid and drink it, nutritious and delicious!).
  5. At this stage, you can refrigerate the boiled pearl millet and cook it later or keep aside and start working on the vegetables if cooking straight away.
  6. Peel, wash and dice the onions.
  7. Peel and slice the garlic.
  8. Was, de-core, de-seed and chop the red pepper.
  9. Wash and chop the celery.
  10. Wash and chop the tomato.
  11. Wash and chop the parsley.
  12. Wash/wipe and slice the mushroom.
  13. Grate or crumble the cheese (will depend on the type of cheese you are using).
  14. Toast the pistachio and seeds together in a dry frying pan till they are nice and toasty and turn a couple of shades darker. Remove and set aside.
  15. Heat the oil in a frying pan to which add the raisins and chilli. Stir around a bit for a minute or so till the raisins plump up a bit.
  16. Now lower the heat and add the chopped onion, tomato, garlic, celery, red pepper and anchovy fillets (if using). Add a pinch of salt, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  17. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the sliced mushroom, paprika, sumac (if using) and a bit more salt to taste. Stir, cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes till the mushrooms are cooked.
  18. Next, add the boiled pearl millet along with the chopped parsley. Stir, check for salt, add some more if necessary, cover and cook for 7 to 8 minutes.
  19. Take it of the heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  20. Scatter toasted pistachio, seeds and cheese on the pilaf before serving.

My Experience Popping Amaranth Seed, Pearl Millet, Quinoa & Unhulled Barley

Popping Amaranth Seeds, Pearl Millet, Quinoa & Unhulled Barley








I have spent this Sunday morning playing around with grains in my kitchen cupboard.

Wanted to pop some amaranth seeds as I will be using them for a totally kooky experimental dinner tonight. While I was at it, I thought I would try out pearl millet, quinoa and unhulled barley as well.

The method I used was dry heat one taken from here.

The photo above shows all four grains after they have been popped. Top row: Left – amaranth seeds; Right – quinoa. Bottom row: Left – pearl millet; Right – unhulled barley.

Popped Amaranth SeedAmaranth seeds (right) popped really nicely and very quickly (compared to popcorn).






Popped Pearl MilletPearl millet (left) was not very successful, only a few grains popped. But even those which didn’t pop were nice to munch on.






Popped QuinoaQuinoa (right) made a lot of popping sound and the taste is of a popped grain although it doesn’t look popped; it looks like dry roasted quinoa.





Popped Unhulled BarleyUnhulled barley (left) was the most surprising one of the lot. It split open to reveal the white popped bits inside each grain although it did not fully pop. When you eat it, it tastes just like popcorn.





If you decide to pop these (or any other) grains, I would suggest that you try one spoonful at a time to see whether or not they pop. Also please make sure you cover the pan with the lid while the popping is happening else the grains may fly all over your kitchen (am suggesting based on personal experience!).


  1. Heat a wide based frying pan with a tight fitting lid on.
  2. Once the pan is very hot, keep the heat on its highest level, remove the lid and add one spoonful of the grain of your choice.
  3. Cover with the lid and keep shaking the pan, holding the lid with one hand.
  4. You will know they are popping when they start making the popping sound.
  5. Take the grains off the heat when the popping sound stops or reduces.
  6. Tip them onto a dry plate and let them cool down before using or storing.


  1. Even the grains which remain “unpopped” after the popping procedure are quite nice and crunchy so don’t discard them.




Rice Free Idli of Bajra (Pearl Millet) & Ragi (Finger Millet) Grains: Plain and Masala Varieties

Rice Free Idli of Bajra (Pearl Millet) and Ragi (Finger Millet) Grains









Let me start off this post with a disclaimer: I have nothing against rice. In fact, I like rice in all shapes and form although I rarely eat it. In my quest for a healthy and nutritious diet, I try to replace rice with other grains wherever possible.

today’s recipe is a tale of two idlis which met by chance in one cooking session

Having successfully made rice-free jowar (sorghum) idlis in the past, for this recipe, I thought of experimenting with two other types of millet grains: pearl (bajra) and finger (ragi).

a successful experiment which demonstrates that it is possible to make idlis without rice

Batter for Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Masala)
Batter for Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Masala)
Batter for Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Plain)
Batter for Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Plain)

Another fortuitous discovery I made while making these is masala idli.

While the first round of idlis were merrily steaming away, I suddenly remembered that I had some shelled peas and mixed sprouts lying around in the refrigerator. I thought of adding these along with some freshly grated turmeric and green chilli-ginger paste to the second round of idlis.

Both types taste equally good. They are soft like conventional idlis although not as fluffy (absence of rice I imagine).

The following makes 24 regular size idlis.

Ingredients for Plain Idli Batter

1 Cup bajra (pearl millet)

1 Cup ragi (finger millet)

1 Cup white urad dal (white gram/white lentil)

2 Tablespoons methi seeds (fenugreek)

Salt to taste

Ghee for greasing idli moulds

Ingredients for Masala Idli Batter (Optional)*

2 – 3 Tablespoons shelled peas

2 – 3 tablespoons mixed sprouts

1 Teaspoon turmeric

1 Teaspoon green chilli-ginger paste


  1. Wash the bajra, ragi, urad dal and methi seeds.
  2. Add water and soak for 8 to 10 hours.
  3. Grind in a food processor. The end result should be a batter which is neither too thick nor too thin. Some of the ragi grains may remain whole, this is perfectly okay.
  4. Cover and place the batter in a warm, dark place to ferment. This can take anything from a few hours to 34 hours depending on the temperature (see note below).
  5. When you are ready to cook the idlis, add some salt to the batter and mix well. If you are making masala idli, you can add the optional ingredients at this stage.
  6. Grease idli moulds and pour the batter in them.
  7. Put in a steamer and let the idlis steam for 40 minutes.
  8. Remove from the steamer and leave for a few minutes.
  9. Run a knife under each idli to remove it from its mould.
  10. Serve with chutney of your choice.


  1. In warm weather, the batter can ferment in a matter of 4 to 6 hours. If the temperatures are low, the fermentation process takes much longer.
  2. For masala idli, you can add any vegetable of your choice. Grated carrots, grated cabbage and grated bottlegourd would work equally well.
  3. I had fresh turmeric root which I grated and used which is why the colour of my masala idlis is so bright! You can use turmeric powder instead.

Here are the two friends side by side – plain and masala.

Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Plain)  Rice Free Bajra and Ragi Idlis (Masala)

Mixed Vegetable Broth with Pearl Millet

Ingredients for Vegetable and Pearl Millet Broth









Inspiration for this recipe comes from my member-turned-very-dear-friend Fatima who emailed a photo of her soup for dinner. The soup looked absolutely delicious so I asked Fatima to share her recipe (which she kindly did and which, with her permission, I have posted below).

As Christmas and New Year indulgences rapidly approach, I am motivated by Fatima’s soup dinner and plan to do the same on alternate days run up to the festive season. So look out for more soup recipes :-).

the best thing about this broth is that it is very forgiving and non-judgmental; you can add, subtract, modify, use what you have in the refrigerator and larder

Low fat, healthy, nutritious and delicious – perfect combination!

I have tweaked Fatima’s recipe a little bit and am presenting my interpretation of it. The following quantity is sufficient for two hearty servings.


2 Small sweet potatoes

150 Grams sweetcorn kernel

150 Grams French beans

1 Carrot

2 Onions

1 Small head of cauliflower

2 Tablespoons pearl millet, soaked for 1-2 hours

1 Stock cube (chicken or vegetable)

Generous pinch of freshly pounded black peppercorns

One tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste


  1. First, we need to cook the pearl millet. You can do this either in an open pan or in a pressure cooker. Follow instructions on the packet.
  2. Once the millet is cooked, drain and reserve liquid (if remaining).
  3. Now, we need to prepare the vegetables.
  4. Wash and dice the sweet potato. I prefer to leave the skin on, you can peel them if you don’t like the skin.
  5. Peel, wash and dice the onions.
  6. Wash the sweetcorn kernels (if using canned, drain and throw away the liquid).
  7. Chop the cauliflower. Use the stalk and leaves if fresh.
  8. Wash and chop the carrots. Again, I prefer not to peel mine but you can do so if you like.
  9. Wash, top, tail and slice the french beans.
  10. Heat the oil in a soup pot.
  11. Once the oil becomes hot, add the onions and salt.
  12. Sweat the onions for a few minutes.
  13. Add the sweet potato and mix well.
  14. Add 3.5 cups of water (this includes reserved liquid from millet, if using) and stock cube.
  15. Bring to boil and once it is on a roll, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  16. Open the lid, add the remaining vegetables, boiled millet and black peppercorns.
  17. Give it a good stir and turn on the flame to high. Once it comes to rolling boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for further 10 minutes.
  18. Take the soup pot off the burner and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

This is ow my broth turned out.

Vegetable and Pearl Millet Broth









it is surprisingly filling


Here is Fatima’s soup along with instructions on how to make.

Fatima's Mixed Vegetable Soup






This is my winter dinner and is real good as you don’t need anything else.  Its a full meal.

Vegetable Soup

1 small cauliflower – break into small florets
2 small potatoes – chopped into small cubes
2 carrots – chopped in small cubes
200 gms french beans – cut small
2 French onions or a big leek chopped.

1 big veg or chicken soup cube.  Check for salt only at the end because the cubes will give all the salt needed.

Take a largish pan. Boil half a pan full of water.  Add all the above vegetables and let cook on medium flame till veggies are just done. Serve with a couple of drops of olive oils and olives dropped in for additional taste.

A garlic toast or soup sticks on the side makes a good combo.

This soup will serve you for a couple of meals if you are going through it alone.  So you can halve quantities if you like.

Variations can include with the above ingredients:

Add a chicken breast to the boiling water and when done for ten minutes, remove from water, chop fine and return to stock along with the veggies.

You can also add tiny macaroni with the veggies or other vegetables – Peas, Corn, Mushroom.  Avoid Cabbage.

Tip: I chop the veggies while water is boiling.  Drop in potatoes and carrots first as they need a little longer to cook.  Then add the rest.  Veggies should be crispy still when done.

Heat only quantities you wish to eat in micro or on fire later as if you heat the whole lot, the veggies will wilt.



Carrot & Cabbage Bajra (Pearl Millet) Idli

Carrot and Cabbage Bajra Idli with Tomato-Ginger Chutney

A couple of months back, I had made the most delicious jowar idli. I am currently out of jowar so decided to replicate the experiment with bajra (pearl millet) instead.  Additionally, I decided to add grated carrots and cabbage to make a nutritiously balanced dinner.

like tomatoes, carrots are more nutritious cooked


1 cup whole bajra (pearl millet)

0.5 cup urad dal (split black gram)

2 tablespoons brown rice

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)

2 grated carrots

Half a head grated cabbage

Salt to taste

Oil/ghee to grease idli moulds


  1. Wash and soak bajra, urad dal, brown rice and fenugreek seeds for 10-12 hours.
  2. Finely grind them making sure the batter is of pouring consistency.
  3. Transfer to a container, cover and leave in a warm, dark place for 8-10 hours to ferment. (If you are in a cool climate, place container with the batter in a larger empty container which you have just warmed. My personal experience is that this speeds up the fermentation process.)
  4. When ready to cook the idlis, mix the carrots, cabbage and salt to the batter.
  5. Grease idli moulds and pour the batter.
  6. Steam for 25 minutes.
  7. Once cooked, take out the moulds and let them rest for about 5 minutes before removing the idlis.
  8. Serve with tomato and ginger chutney.

This is what the fermented batter looks like:

Fermented Idli Batter

Here are the idlis cooked to perfection:

Idlis Hot off the Steamer


If you don’t have idli moulds, you can still make this recipe. Just pour the batter in a cake tin or equivalent and steam. Once cooked, cool and cut in squares before serving.