The health benefits of Millets in general, have been written about extensively in almost all posts in the Power Packed Pancakes Series. Hence, I haven’t rewritten those facts. Additionally, useful details of information are available in the internet in abundance. A blogger’s job, especially that of a food blogger is simplified to crisp menu cards and videos. That gives much more space and time for conveying several other like minded ideas isn’t it??
Millets, like rice, are versatile cereals. Cook them like Rice and have with curries; flavour them with lemon, tamarind, coconut or yoghurt; make desserts with jaggery; or enjoy as spicy Pongal on a rainy day. With pound millet flours available in stores, make Puttu (steamed cylinders) or Kozhukkattai (sweet and savoury dumplings) or Idiyappam (string hoppers) – all staples of Tamilnadu.
Since, this series comes after many years of posting Millet Dosais, there might be repetition of facts. I have tried to take care in avoiding that. Bear with me for any unknown recurrence of thoughts.
Among the variety of millets, Samai Idli can be an exact replica of White Rice Idlis due to its color. It is sometimes softer than Rice Idli and puffs up better.
Samai Idli/ Idli with Little Millet
Ingredients (makes approximately 25-30 idlis)
samai /little millet – 3 cups
ulundham paruppu/deskinned black gram – 1 cup
uppu/salt – as needed approx. 1 tsp
Method of Preparation
Wash and soak millet and black gram together in enough water for 6-8 hours
Drain excess water and grind them into a smooth batter
Once the batter is done in the blender, add salt and blend well
Leave the batter to ferment for 8 hrs or overnight
Millet batters do not need as much time as Rice Idli batter. They turn sour sooner
8 hrs in a warm place is enough; If the climate is too hot, check after 6 hours; In an air conditioned environment, I place it in the oven overnight with the oven light on
Once fermented, mix the batter well
Always keep the batter refrigerated for further use
If left to ferment more than needed, the batter might turn too pungent to make idli or dosai
Steam Idlis in the mould and serve them hot with chutney of choice.
Way back in April 2014, I had started a series on ‘Power Packed Pancakes’. The introduction post focussed on how having Dosai/Dosa batter at home can be a stress free affair, and the importance of including whole grains and millets for a Healthy Lifestyle.
How far the post was successful with regards to a stress free read …. not for me to decide.
From Power Packed Pancakes, now, its time to move on to Power Packed Idlis or Steamed Cakes. What the Tamils call Idli is generally described in English as Rice Cakes. Specifically, these are Steamed Rice Cakes. This time, the steamed cakes are with Millets and no Rice included. Hence, they are truly Power Packed and Healthy.
I don’t prefer to mix Rice in the Millet Idli batter, especially if the purpose is to cut down the Rice intake. A pack that reads ‘Whole Wheat Bread’ or ‘Brown Bread’ in the shelves of supermarkets, tricks the consumer to believe it is 100% original Whole Wheat bread. The soft and tasty bread is certainly a combination of White flour and Whole Wheat, or many a times 70-80% whiteflour with the inclusion of Wheat Bran.
Rice is a wonderful Grain, in comparison to the empty caloried White Flour. But, I’d like to keep my Millet Dosai or Idli, without the inclusion of Rice.
Hence, I use the best suited Millets for Idlis, as simple as that. Other Millets which don’t turn out soft and fluffy (that’s expected from a Steamed Cake), can be made as Dosai. The batter is rigidly the same, devoid of Rice.
Why are we talking about Rice here?
Well, there a two basic ways of making Idlis with millets. One – making the Idli batter with Millet and Black gram and NO Rice at all; the other is to substitute one portion of rice with millet. Certain Millets like Thinai (Foxtail Millet – one of the oldest millets of the Tamils), Samai (Little Millet), Varagu (Kodo Millet) or Kuthiraivali (Barnyard Millet) are best suited to make fluffy soft Idlis, with NO Rice at all. A few others like Kezhvaragu (Ragi/Finger Millet) or Kambu (Bajra/Pearl Millet) don’t create the best steamed cakes with millets alone, they need the addition of Rice.
But, Horse gram, which is a lentil and not a Millet, should be treated like the black gram in Rice Idlis. That’s why, Rice and Horse gram are blended to make Steamed Cakes.
This series aims at providing an alternative way to incorporate millets in our diet. Having included them in our daily life style for several years now, I strongly feel this has been one of the healthiest changes I’ve adapted. Also, one that makes me stay very close to a few of the countless traditional foods of my soil. Especially, when there is written literary document that proves these were consumed by my ancestors several thousands of years ago.