Gluten free Pearl Millet Idli Recipe


Idli‘ is a popular Indian breakfast recipe served with sambar and chutney. Typically Idli’s are prepared using batter of rice and urad dal. But in this post, I have given a twist to regular rice idli recipe and prepared it using ‘Pearl Millet‘ or ‘Bajari‘ (as known in India).

Millet are small-grained cereals widely used in traditional Indian recipes. There are variety of millet like foxtail millet, sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet etc. These millet are naturally gluten free and highly nutritious. Millet are integral part of Indian kitchen and we use them to make roti/bhakri (type of flatbread), porridge, dosa, idli, khichdi etc.

For this gluten-free Idli recipe, I am using whole pearl millets. Recipe is pretty much similar to regular idli, only millets are replaced with rice. This little millet is hard in texture, so need to soak enough before grinding into thick paste. Pearl millet idli’s are delicious with slight earthy taste. They make a healthy and nourishing breakfast, dunk it in hot spicy sambar and enjoy !!

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3 cups of whole pearl millet

1 cup of urad dal (either split or whole, I used split one)

2 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tbsp poha/ flattened rice

Salt to taste

Water for soaking


Soak pearl millet, urad dal and fenugreek seeds overnight or at least 6-8 hours.

I usually soak pearl millet and urad dal separately. And fenugreek along with urad dal.

Do not use too much water for soaking, just cover with 1-1.5 inch water over it.

Once millets and dals are soaked enough, they’ll swell in size.

Grind urad and fenugreek dal mixture into thick paste. Transfer it into the bowl.

Next add poha into the bowl of soaked pearl millet. Grind millet and poha together into thick paste and mix it with ground urad dal.

Add salt into the batter and mix thoroughly using spoon or hand.

Batter should be soft and fluffy, ribbon like consistency. Refer below image for batter consistency.

Cover the batter and store it in a warm place for fermentation.

Batter needs warmth to start fermentation process. In India, it takes just 6-8 hours for fermentation. But in colder countries like UK, sometimes it is difficult to maintain required temperature.

Hence, I use my oven to ferment the batter. First, preheat the oven at 120 degrees, once it is preheated switch off the heat and keep batter inside the oven. After 5-6 hours; repeat same steps. Take the bowl out of oven; preheat it at 120 degrees. Switch off the heat and then shift bowl of batter inside the oven.

(PS. while oven is pre-heating, remove batter from the oven. Transfer it back to oven only when heating is off. So we are only creating warm surrounding to help fermentation).

Batter gets fermented beautifully after 8-10 hours.

Refer below image of fermented batter.

If batter could not ferment even after 24 hours then you might miss something and it won’t result into good Idli’s.

Pour water into steamer and switch on the heat.

Meanwhile, grease Idli mould and pour batter into it.

Once water starts boiling, transfer idli mould to hot steamer.

Cover the steamer and steam it for 12 minutes.

After 12 minutes, remove the lid of steamer and gently touch top of idli with wet fingers. If batter is not touching to fingers means idli’s are ready.

Serve these idli’s with piping hot sambar and chutney.

Few things which are important for soft Idli’s:

  • Consistency of batter – it should not be thin. Use minimal water while grinding, if possible use same water which was used for soaking.
  • Mix millet and urad dal paste thoroughly with hands. Keep mixing it in one direction for approximately 8-10 minutes to incorporate sufficient air. You’ll see small bubbles in the batter. It helps for soft and fluffy idli’s
  • Temperature and total time for fermentation. If you are staying in colder countries, use warm place or keep the batter near heater. Or you can use my oven technique, where I preheat the oven and keep batter inside it. 8 -10 hours are sufficient for fermentation process.

These are some of my tips, batter fermentation is a tricky process and needs few trial & errors.


I hope you enjoyed reading this post and would love to give it a try.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading this blog 🙂. If you liked my blog, then do check out my other recipes and follow me on Pinterest || Instagram || Twitter

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