Friday, February 26, 2010

Whole Ragi (millet) Idli and Khichdi (Rice cooked with lentils)

"Ten Acres Enough: The Small Farm Dream is Possible" - by Edmund Morris, a book written in 1864 by a desk worker turned farmer. Here are a few lines from the preface.

"I write more particularly for those who have not been brought up as farmers-for that numerous body of patient toilers in city, town and village, who, like myself, have struggled on from year to year, anxious to break away from the bondage of the desk, the counter, or the workshop, to realize in the country even a moderate income, so that it be a sure one."

If that does not a strike a chord for a lot of people I will be very surprised. It might be 2010, but what Edmund Morris so eloquently expressed in 1864 is still very much true. The book is out of print but can be read electronically from the link provided above.

A life of a farmer and a farming for someone stuck in the drudgery of a desk job might seem very appealing, peaceful almost. But there is no dearth of people warning about the hard life of a farmer and they are to be taken seriously.

It has been giving me great pleasure reading this book. I'd sure love to chuck my desk job once for all :)

I have for today 2 recipes that are simple but down home and comforting. One is ragi idli and the other is khichidi. If you want a bit of variation from the regular rice idlis try using whole ragi for a colorful, fluffy and soft idlis. As opposed to the dosai batter which does not require fermentation, the idli batter has to be fermented.

As for khichidi it is a variation on the Kongu version of arisim paruppu saatham and the South Indian favorite ven pongal. Amazing how the very same main ingredients but a change in the spices can give totally different but equally tasty results. I had this khichidi as prasadam after out Sunday Geeta classes and could not wait to recreate them at home.

Whole Ragi idli
For the batter
1. 2 Cups Whole Ragi
2. 1 1/2 cups of Rice
3. 1 cup of Urad dal [if you are using a ratio of 4:1 rice:urad dal, stick to that while using ragi + rice]
4. 1 tbsp methi seeds

1. Soak the above overnight. [I will explain why soaking overnight is a good idea]
2. Grind the ragi first remove to a container, followed by the urad and methi seeds and finally the rice. Add water as required to get the grinder/blender moving.
3. Add salt and mix it to a consistency of pancake batter, pourable but not watery.
4. Let it ferment overnight.

To make idlis
1. Grease the idli mould with sesame oil or ghee and fill with batter.
2. Put in a pressure cooker (without weight) or a idli steamer and steam for 10-12 minutes.
3. Let the steam abate, remove and serve with a chutney of choice.

1. Soaking overnight: Soaking overnight especially in the cold winter months helps the batter to ferment relatively easily. Grind the batter in the morning and let it ferment till the next morning. Summer months the batter should ferment by evening.

2. Fermentation: If you have a conventional oven or microwave over with a light, turn on the light and leave the batter inside for 8-24 hours and the batter will rise. If it does not, remove the batter container outside warm the oven, turn off heat, put the batter back inside and leave for another 2-3 hours.

Khichidi is mixture of rice and dal seasoned with pepper, cumin, ginger,green chilies and curry leaves. The rice is not cooked mushy like arisim paruppu saatham or ven pongal but in a such way that the rice and dal still retain their shape. The khichidi had that texture and that is the way I attempted to recreate. Split moong dal is generally used I used a combination of split moong and split cow peas. I am in a swoon over the taste. Use only ghee that is not an option but a requirement.

Khichidi - Rice with lentils
1. 1 1/2 Cups or rice (Ponni Raw Rice) - 4 Cups of water
2. 1/2 Cup split moong dal with skin
3. 1/2 cup split cow peas (thatta payar)
4. 4 green chilies slit and deseeded if needed
5. 10-15 curry leaves
6. 1 tbsp pepper-cumin powder + turmeric powder
7. 3 tsp ghee
8. 2 tsp cumin seeds
9. Salt to taste

1. In a pressure cooker heat the ghee and season with cumin seeds
2. Add the slit green chilies and curry leaves and saute for a few seconds
3. Add the pepper - cumin - turmeric powders and let it sizzle
4. Add the water and let it come to a boil, add the salt.
5. Add the rice, dals and let it come to a boil
6. Close the lid and let it cook for 8 -10 minutes (do not have to wait for the whistle to come, depending on the rice being used determine the optimum time to cook before it becomes mushy)

Serve with beetroot raita.


  1. Super dinner to being a weekend. I can eat this watch a movie and sleep like a kid.

  2. Never made ragi idli. But I use ragi flour to make dosai. Both idli and khichdi look very delicious.

  3. If desk jobs were considered stressful in 1864, I wonder what would be said of today. :-)
    I recently had khichdi as prasad at a temple and was tempted to recreate that taste too. Will try adding green chillies to my khichdi the next time. :-)

  4. That book sounds very interesting, Indo! One of my bosses at work does part time farming (wishes to go full time eventually); its always a delight to hear him talk about juggling between a cube job and the farm. I would surely be recommending this read to him. On the yummy front, ragi idlis and khichdi both look delicious and a comfort meal indeed.

  5. I haven't eaten much with ragi but I did make ragi upma once when I found some ragi flour, and it sat like a stone in my stomach - I got depressed about whether I'd be able to eat anything for the next two days!
    Really like the looks of the ragi idli, and the beetroot raita! Maybe I'll make the ragi idli just for the looks!

  6. hey ragi idli looks so good and colorful..and the khichadi also looks so good with that beetroot raita..totally comforting..

  7. I am learning to cook and appreciate Raagi these days as this is a very new ingredient in my far only having sprouted raagi which I mix to everything from Salad to Poha. the raagi idli looks fluffy and very colourful would like to give it a try. how about the texture?is it chewy?

  8. I imagine the life of a farmer to be a very hard one, with the fickleness of the weather, fluctuations in prices etc. Can't be easy, and I admire the people who raise our food.
    The idli looks gorgeous. Ragi is an ingredient that I haven't embraced yet, but should.

  9. I have quite a bit of Ragi to use up so hope to try this soon - the idlis look really fluffy
    I love khichdis too very satisfying & comforting.

    I've always been fascinated by life in a farm and absolutely enjoyed trips to my periammas house amidst paddy fields sugarcane fields cows and chickens. They were always so self sufficient.

  10. "Grass is always greener on the other side" as they say!

    Being a farmer is not fun at all unless we had our fill with office work, got fed up, made lots of money, retire or resign and then buy a piece of farm land with a house and rocking chair spending our pension or savings.
    My MIL is trying to sell off 30acres of spare coffee estate and there are no takers! He is finding so hard to get laborers to pick coffee and maintain the land he has and he is ill too. I feel so bad.

    Must try Ragi idli,looks delicious. I love Kichadi of course.

  11. Sra, I have never tried ragi upma. As sitting in the tummy like a stone, it is very true (probably why lot of people turn to it for dieting). Few things that I tried to do while making dosai. Add equal parts wheat flour and left over idli batter to the amount of ragi flour to make it soft and fluffy.

    As for the whole ragi cannot be compared to the ragi flour, when soaked and ground the texture is a lot softer. You cannot differentiate them from the regular idlis. Give it a try and let me know. When I made dosais with the left over batter, same results crispy and tasty.

    Sayantani, not at all. The idlis were soft and fluffy just like the regular idlis. Give it a try for sure.

  12. Asha, truer words have never been spoken. I probably long and read about the life my grandparents lead because I have seen the other side and there is nothing to write home about.

    That must be hard for your in-laws. These days especially in India farming is looked on like it is a worthless pursuit. Sad.

  13. Great recipe fr ragi idli...a must try one..

  14. I have never made ragi idli... it looks so good n delicious and so does the khichadi...would be a perfect meal for me :)

  15. Absolutely love the idea of ragi idlis -have to buy whole Ragi as I currently have just the organic ragi malt for the little one -
    Will bookmark this recipe and try at the earliest.

  16. I can eat ragi idli anyday, my fav and nutritious dish btw khichdi looks fantastic and great..

  17. I am yet to read your post and seems very informative. I was actually looking for a good recipe for Raagi Idli, glad I found it.

  18. Healthy dishes here...Never made ragi idlis..Khichdi is so comforting and is welcome at any time :-)

  19. Loved this variation of ragi idli, looks yum ! Khichdi is one of my fave comfort foods, always welcome:-)

  20. Khichdi is my all time fav and the most satisfying meal ever! Havent experimented with ragi flour much, got to try these idlis soon! Thanks for sharing and wish you and your family a very Happy Holi!

  21. Will read from the link in between work ;-)
    Glad you didn't get all the snow this time

    I recently tried savory Pongal several times from a colleague's lunch box and liked it, almost like our Bengali Khichuri

  22. The idlis look yummm...I cannot seem to find whole ragi anywhere here in US?Is that from a particular store or from India?

  23. Shilpa, I brought them from India. I have seen them in Indian grocery stores here. I live in the DC area. Let me know if you want some shipped? Meantime I'll check in my local area stores.

  24. I have never used Ragi. I will get it from the Indian store. I love the red color.

    Beautiful khichdi. The dry khichdi like this reminds me khichdi we would make during puja.. with garam masala and hing.

  25. Ragi idli looks soft and yum, ISG!

    He was pining to get away from his desk job in the 1800's?! Wonder what he;d have said now :)

  26. Thanks ISG....I am tempted to take up your offer;-)But do have a good source of ragi powder from the local indian store.You are so sweet to offer that to me!Am humbled!My family back in the outskirts of Bangalore cultivate Ragi.Have finished my stach of this year's supply from home.But will surely get the whole ragi this time I visit India.Keep up the good work.Love your eco-green-recipe blogging!Am hooked onto Kongu cuisine from your's and dear Kay's blog!

  27. I like the ragi idlis. Looks so soft and fluffy. And somehow my hostel mess had created a great aversion for arisim parupum and hence not daring yet to try ven it's cousins ;)

  28. Thanks for the ragi idly recipe.
    Khichdi looks yummy!

  29. ISG...I am hosting an event- the home remedies, any chances you will share some info from sukham ayu?Or any secretly guarded remedies that you have tried on the kids :)

  30. What should be the proportion if I am using ragi flour instead of whole ragi for idlies?

  31. Deepti, I am not sure ragi flour will work well as a replacement. They work great for making dosais. I have never tried with idlis though.


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