Tag Archives: Millet


Kara Kuzhipaniharam is a well known South Indian, savoury Chettinad dish made for breakfast and tiffin. This interesting offshoot of the Idli batter is tasty, vegan, gluten free, fermented, healthy and easy to prepare.

It is prepared on a traditional Kuzhipaniharam kalu chetty made of cast iron for heat retention, with several hemispherical indentations, placed directly on a stove top. Similar types of pan used in other cusines are Appam pan – Kerala, Æbleskiver pan – Danish, Poffertjes – Dutch, Gai dan jaan pan – Chinese, Takoyaki pan – Japanese.

Kuzhipaniharam’s distinctive sphere shape, makes it an inviting pick me up delight, fun and appealing to all, especially children.

An avalanche of scrumptious Kara kuzhipaniharams for one and all!

Prep time :  2 – 3 hrs; Cooking time : 20 mins; Serves : 4-6

Ingredients :

  • 3 cups of fermented Idli Batter (rice | millet)
  • 1 tbsp Channa Dal | Bengal Gram lentils
  • 2 – 3 green chilies
  • 1/2 cup Sambhar onions | shallots or 2 onions
  • 3 stems of curry leaves
  • 3 sprigs of coriander leaves
  • Rock salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil or any cooking oil
The Steps. Savoury Kuzhipaniharam sizzling away on the traditional kuzhipaharam heavy cast iron kalu chetty | pan


1. Finely chop the onions, green chilies, curry leaves and coriander leaves. To the fermented Idli batter add all of these, bengal gram dal and salt, keeping in mind the already salted fermented Idli batter. Mix well. Set aside for 2 – 3 hours which helps to soften the bengal gram dal and makes it a chewy bite.

2. Heat up the Paniyaram | kallu chetty | pan on the gas stove, pour 1/2 tsp oil into each of the pits and then pour a spoonful of the prepared batter till each pit is about 3/4 full. Cover and let it cook on low flame for 10 mins. Uncover and with a stick, a skewer or back of a spoon, upturn the kuzhipaniyarams and let it cook on this side too, for about 5 mins. Make sure to cook till no raw batter is inside the kuzhipaniyarams.

Variations :

1. Grated coconut, grated carrot – either or both can be added to the batter.

2. Pour the batter upto 1/4 into the pit then add 1/2 tsp of green chutney / tomato onion chutney / any chutney of choice. Nowadays restaurants have come up with grated paneer / tofu / cheese additions too. Then pour over, some more batter such that the stuffing is sandwiched in the center and prepare stuffed Kuzhipaniharams.

Savoury kuzhipaniharams can be served along with coconut chutney, flax seed molaga podi and tomato onion chutney.




Ven Pongal is a wonderful dish, served as breakfast or tiffin in South India and also quick and easy to make with simple ingredients.

Traditionally, Sakkarai pongal, the sweet version and Ven pongal, the savoury one are prepared for ‘Thai Pongal’ – the Tamil Harvest festival – the Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving. It is celebrated, by boiling the first harvested rice of the season and as it overflows, saying ‘Pongalo Pongal’  and “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning “the birth of the month of Thai (comes in January as per the English Calendar) will pave the way for new opportunities”. The act of overflowing denotes and symbolises, abundance and prosperity. All done outdoors, in appreciation of the Sun god, solar energy provider of the bountiful agricultural produce.

“You make these interesting dishes, when I am out of town.” observed Sri. Objection, my lord (feminist issue? no offence please, sticking to a standard phrase here), beg to differ “You are out of town, when I make these interesting dishes.”  Ven Pongal is a type of Kitchdi,  which I make often, as Pa loves it. He enjoys Millet Pongal and we have come to enjoy it along with him. Encore, made it again. We wolfed down, our respective share of the soft, buttery and peppery Ven Pongal. No one spoke, sign of good food.  Now ‘All izz well’ (did you just sing it like Rancho, in the bollywood movie Three Idiots?! Don’t even bother answering that, rhetorical question!)


Prep time : 5 mins; Cooking time : 15 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients for Pongal:

  • 1 cup rice | millet (preferably kuthiravalli | barnyard millet, samai | little millet, thinai | foxtail millet)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal | payatham paruppu | green gram lentil
  • 2 – 3 green chilies
  • 1 inch ginger
  • Rock salt powder to taste
  • 5 1/2 cups of water

Ingredients for Tempering :

  • 1 tb sp Ghee | clarified butter | cooking oil of choice
  • 9 -11 cashewnuts
  • 11/2 tsp jeera | cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 stems of curry leaves
One pot dish – Little MIllet | Samai Ven Pongal

Procedure :

1. Finely chop the ginger and green chilies. Set aside. Grind the cumin seeds and peppercorns together coarsely, in a mortar pestle or a dry grinder. Set aside.

2. Dry roast rice | millet and moong dal together, till fragrant. Wash and rinse them well. Take a pressure pan and add the rice, lentils, finely chopped ginger, finely chopped green chilies and water and pressure cook with the whistle for upto 3 – 4 whistles. Switch off heat. Once the pressure is released open the pressure cooker and add salt.

3. For tempering take ghee | oil in a pan, fry the cashewnuts, curry leaves and freshly ground cumins seeds and peppercorns in that order till lightly brown and fragrant. Add it to the pongal in the pressure cooker. Mix well.

Serve hot with Sambar, Coconut chutney or Gothsu (gravy of vegetables and lentils in tamarind sauce).




Idli, ranks as, a number one health dish. Fermented, steamed, easily digestible, you name it and It gets, all the ticks in the box, under that category.

Senior (as sometimes, Pa addresses my older one) when she was a little junior, used to be a pro at negotiating bedtime stories. She would say ” But Maa, am I asking you for 20, just 3 stories tonight, will do.” How does one argue this law point logic, with a mop of curly hair and peering big black eyes?! ‘Everything happens for good’ story most certainly her favourite, would feature as one of her 3 stories for the night.

Once upon a time, a king had a wise minister, whose all time advice was “Everything happens for good”. One day the King had an accident and he cut off his little toe, everyone around him sympathized but the minister maintained that “Everything happens for good”, upset by the lack of sympathy shown by the minister, the King, sends him to prison and jibes him to figure out ‘how this happened for good’. Later when the King ventured out hunting, he was caught, by the man-eating jungle cannibals, for their evening meal. Before putting him into the cooking pot, they happened to see his foot with a missing toe and declared him to be an imperfect meal, as per the Cannibal tradition. The king, who was spared, immediately comes back to his kingdom. Realizing the truth in his minister’s words, releases his minister and apologizes to him for the inconvenience faced in prison, to which the minister repeats “Everything happens for good”, for had he not been in prison, he would have gone along with the king and been the ‘next in line candidate’, to be a totally perfect meal for the cannibals.
No prizes for guessing, my lunch box during my school and college days, yes, Idlis, invariably. However, now I realize that, whenever I I look up for healthy recipes, I already have the best one, I can ever find, under my belt, effortlessly handed down to me. It is the most ‘taken for granted dish’ that is a daily standard affair as breakfast / tiffin in south. This soft and spongy steamed dumpling delight ‘The Idli’ is a sure testament of ‘Everything happens for good’!

Prep time: 9 – 12 hrs; Cooking time : 20 mins; Serves : 9 – 12

blog idli

Ingredients :

  • Parboiled Idli Rice / Parboiled Brown or Red Rice / Parboiled Millet Rice – 41/2 – 5 cups
  • Black gram dal / Udad dal (skinned whole / split) – 1/4 – 1/2 cup
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • Water – as required
  • Rock Salt – as per taste
  • Sesame Oil / ghee – 1- 2 tsps

Method :

1. Wash, rinse, soak the rice separately in one vessel and similarly, Udad dal along with fenugreek seeds in another vessel, with sufficient water, to assist in swelling up of the grains, for about 2 hrs.

2. Then, grind the udad dal along with fenugreek seeds in a wet grinder, adding water gradually, as required, for at least 20 mins, till you see stiff peaks in the fluffy batter. Remove it out into a vessel and set aside.

3. Now, grind the idli rice in the wet grinder, adding water gradually, as required, for at least 20 mins, till you get a batter of  pouring consistency. After about 20 mins, add the fluffy udad dal batter gradually in installments and continue grinding for another 20 mins. Keep the batter overnight for fermenting.

4. Next morning, add salt, about 1 1/2 tbsp or as per taste and mix well. Grease the idli plates with sesame oil / ghee, pour the batter in each of the moulds, place it on the idli stand and steam the idlis in a pressure cooker, without the whistle or an idli steamer for about 15 mins.

5. Serve these hot along with Coconut chutney, green chutney, tomato onion chutney, sambhar and Flax seed Molaga podi. It can combine with just about any accompaniments that you like.


1. For Millet Idlis, Brown rice and Red rice Idlis, Raw rice idlis (pacharisi idli for Varalakshmi Vritham) replace the the parboiled Idli rice with par boiled Millet of your choice, parboiled brown rice, parboiled red rice, raw rice respectively and follow the same recipe.( we cannot get healthier than this!)

2. Idlis can be cut into wedges and dipped in Flax seed Idli Molaga podi and served as canapes or a hors d’oeuvres to be snacked up on or even a great ‘To go’ kids lunch box idea.

3. Idlis can be cut up into small pieces and made like upma and called Idli seeyali.

4. Idli batter is also used to make Dosas, Uthappams and Kuzhipaniharam.

Cook’s note:

1. All the steps for preparing, the idli batter (just like the cake batter) are important for getting soft and spongy idlis.

2. Stone Wet grinder is a must and grinding the batter for a longer time period, gives it good amount of aeration, once again, the key to getting soft and spongy Idlis.

All the very to best to all, towards your efforts in mastering the art of making Idlis!


“I need my space” that must be my refrigerator. It is so full that for 2 items to go in, 5 must come out.
My Grand Solution (got immediate approval from everyone at home) was Gluten free Cauliflower Parathas made with 2 cauliflower heads.

Prep time: 15 mins; Cooking time: 30 mins; Serves: 4-6

Sizzling on a skillet


  • Pearl Millet/ Bajra flour – 4 – 4 1/2 cups
  • Cauliflowers – 2
  • Onions – 2
  • Green chilies – 4
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Carom seeds / ajwain – 2 tsp
  • Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
  • Mustard oil / Vegetable oil – 3 tbsp s
  • Warm water – 2-3 tbsp s
  • Salt – to taste


1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp salt to it.
2. Dice the cauliflowers into small pieces and drop it in the large pot of hot water and let it soak for 10 mins. This step helps to clean the cauliflower thoroughly.
3. Chop the onions and green chilies finely.
4. Heat Mustard oil in a pan – I love mustard oil but some who find it pungent, may substitute with vegetable oil. Saute the onions till translucent, then add chopped green chilies, roughly mashed cauliflower, carom seeds, coriander leaves, salt and cook for about 10 mins till cauliflower is soft and dry. Let the mixture cool down.
5. Fold into the flour, the cooked cauliflower mixture and knead well. If required add a few tablespoons of warm water to aid kneading and form a dough.
6. Make small balls with the dough and press them into round circles with the help of a roti / tortilla maker. Non stick electric ones make the job easy, since millet flour is gluten free, it is tough to roll out on a rolling board.
7. Lay the pressed circle shaped parathas on a iron skillet and drizzle a few drops of oil around it. Let it cook for about 2 – 3 mins on one side, then flip it and cook it for another 2 – 3 mins, till evenly browned on both sides.
Goes well with chilly pickle, thinly sliced onions and yogurt (which can be skipped, if vegan).

Dhaba ishtyle paratha ready ji!



Humble and a number one Detox dish.
Works excellent for dinner but can contest for breakfast as well.
Make it with Millet of your choice, which are the new / actually age old  rediscovered wonder grains.
Yesterday, I sighed “Today, I don’t know why but I don’t  feel like cooking”. “That is everyday Maa” enlightens my younger one. Ooooh burn.
“1st April – fools day” I reply back aloud and perky new me gets down to making this one pot steamed, complex looking but very easy to make ( April fools day continues), guilt free, nutritious, vegetarian, detox dinner.

Prep time: 10 mins; Cooking time; 20 mins; Serves: 4

One pot meal


  • Millet – 1 1/2 cups
  • Onion – 1
  • Tomato – 1
  • Carrots – 2
  • Beans – 9
  • Potato – 1
  • Peas – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic – 4 cloves
  • Ginger – 1 inch
  • Green chilies- 2
  • Ghee/Coconut oil – 3 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cloves – 3
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch
  • Black cardamom – 1
  • Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp


1. Dry roast the millet in a pan till a nutty smell whiffs past your nose. Rinse the millet well. Set aside.
2. Chop all the vegetables to fines dices, slit the  green chilies length wise and julienne the garlic and ginger.
3. Take a pressure cooker pan add ghee or coconut oil, then add bay leaf, cloves, garlic, ginger, green chilies and onions.
4. Saute the onions till translucent, add turmeric powder for a sunny golden colour, then add the chopped tomatoes, carrots, beans, peas and potatoes.
5. Pour in 4 – 4 1/2 cups of water and then the rinsed millet and close the cooker lid without the weight on a slow flame for about 7 mins till you see steam coming out of the vent. Switch off the heat and place the weight on the cooker and let it sit for 10 – 15 mins. Mix well before serving and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Mmmm..Fragrant aroma that fills your kitchen tells you millet khichdi is ready for plating along with coconut chutney.

A la carte