Millet Idli (With Foxtail Millet)

Step by StepJump to Recipe

Idli are a favorite at home. And the reasons are many. They are tasty, simple and also make for a complete wholesome South Indian Breakfast meal when paired with a homestyle sambar and coconut chutney. In this post, I have shared another even more nutritious version of an idli. This Millet Idli is light, fluffy, steamed cakes made with foxtail millet, lentils and rice. We all love it at home, you will love it too.

thinai idli recipe how to make foxtail millet idli recipe

About Millet Idli

As I mentioned in the beginning, my family loves idli. They love having it for breakfast, and even for lunch, dinner and as a snack.

Easy to serve and easy to eat, idlis have been regularly cooked and enjoyed in nearly every household in South India. For the same reason, here’s the recipe of Millet Idli from my kitchen to yours.

Millet Idli made with foxtail millet is a healthier variation of the traditional South Indian idli, a popular breakfast item enjoyed across India.

Foxtail millet, known for its health benefits and nutty flavor, adds a unique twist to this beloved dish, making it not just delicious but also incredibly nourishing. This millet is known as ‘kangni’ in Hindi, ‘thinai’ in Tamil, ‘navane’ in Kannada and ‘korralu’ in Telugu.

This Milelt Idli recipe however is a bit different. As a millet (which is technically a seed, but classed as a grain) has been used as a substitute for the rice, but the foxtail millet is used in larger proportions as compared to rice.

To prepare Millet Idli with foxtail millet, the millet grains and idli rice are first washed and soaked for a few hours. They are then ground into a smooth batter along with black gram (urad dal) and fenugreek seeds. This batter is fermented overnight, which helps in enhancing its flavor and improving the texture of the idlis.

Using a wet-grinder to grind the batter and also a well fermented batter will yield softer, fluffier idlis. Using a damp muslin cloth over the idli moulds to pour the batter also results in softer idlis. For more tips, check out this post on How To Make Soft Idli.

Idli made with foxtail millet are a great way to incorporate the goodness of millets into your diet while enjoying a classic South Indian favorite.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Millet Idli


1. Wash 1 cup (200 grams) foxtail millet and ⅓ cup (80 grams) idli rice/sona masoori rice twice with water.

foxtail millet and idli rice for making millet idli.

2. Rinse or wash ⅓ cup (80 grams) black gram and 1½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds together.

I used split urad dal which is available here. Using whole urad will yield softer idlis, as I have understood.

black gram and fenugreek seeds for making millet idli.

3. Drain the washed foxtail millet and rice mixture. Soak in fresh water for 4 to 5 hours.

foxtail millet and idli rice soaked in water.

4. After rinsing, drain and soak black gram and fenugreek seeds adding fresh water, separately for 4 to 5 hours.

black gram and fenugreek seeds soaked in water.

Make Batter

5. After 4 to 5 hours, drain the millet-rice mixture, discard the water. Add the grains to the grinder. Grind adding about ¼ cup of water in small amounts.

Grind to form a slightly grainy batter, neither too thin nor too thick. Transfer to a deep container. Do not add too much water at once while grinding.

millet-rice mixture added to grinder jar.

6. Drain the lentil-fenugreek seeds mixture. Retain the water. Add to the grinder and grind adding about 2 tablespoons of reserved water to form a smooth batter.

(Use a wet-grinder, if you have it. Yields better results.)

lentil-fenugreek seeds mixture added to grinder jar.

7. The image of ground lentil-fenugreek seeds mixture as shown below.

ground lentil-fenugreek seeds mixture.

8. Add the lentil batter to the same container as the millet batter.

lentil batter added to millet batter.

9. Add salt to taste.

adding salt to the mixture of batters.

10. Mix well.

mixing salt into millet idli batter.

11. Cover with a lid. Allow to ferment overnight in a warm area for 8 to 10 hours.

If living in a cold region, place the container inside a preheated oven at 50 deg Celsius (lowest temperature in the oven).

Remember to turn off the heat when you place the container inside the oven. Leave the oven light turned on. Allow the batter to ferment overnight.

batter covered and kept for fermentation.

12. Next morning, the batter would be risen well. If you live in a warmer climate, you might get a better rise. Or you may need to ferment the batter for much longer.

fermented batter.

13. You will be able to note many air-pockets due to the fermentation as you stir gently with a ladle.

bubbles formed o n fermented batter for millet idli.

Steam Foxtail Millet Idli

14. Pour the batter into each of the depressions of the greased idli mold. Add water to the steamer, heat it. Once it begins to steam, place the stand inside the steamer.

idli stand filled with batter and placed in a steamer.

15. Cover and steam on medium heat for 12 to 14 minutes or until a fork or knife inserted at the center of the idli comes out clean.

steaming millet idli.

16. Take out the stand from the steamer. Using a damp, slightly flat spoon inserted at the base of the idlis, remove each idli from the steamer.

stand with steamed idlis.

17. Place the steamed idlis in a heat-retaining casserole. Cover.

steamed millet idli placed ion a casserole.

18. Serve Millet Idli with Sambhar and chutney of your choice.

millet idli sprinkled with podi and served on a white plate with a side of bowls of sambar and coconut chutney.

Serving Suggestions

Millet Idli is typically served hot with traditional accompaniments like sambar and Coconut Chutney. You could also sprinkle some Idli Podi on these idlis.

The combination of soft, steamed idlis with spicy sambar and creamy chutney creates a delectable culinary experience that is both comforting and satisfying.

This hearty breakfast option is not only popular among health-conscious individuals but also appreciated for its taste and versatility. I have also shared another healthy recipe of Sama Chawal Idli made with barnyard millet and tapioca pearls.


Being rich in fiber, protein and minerals, the foxtail millet grains have the quality to stop blood sugar from rising too quickly, soon after consumption. Millets in general, is an alternative to rice in many recipes.

Makes them apt for diabetics and promotes heart health. However, if you have been advised to avoid this millet by your doctor or dietitian, then please do as advised.

More South Indian Breakfast Recipes To Try!

Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

foxtail millet idli recipe, thinai idli recipe

Millet Idli (With Foxtail Millet)

Millet Idli are light, fluffy, savory idli variation made with foxtail millet, lentils and rice. Foxtail millet is also known as 'navane' in kannada, 'thinai' in tamil, 'kangni' in hindi, 'korralu' in telugu.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 13 hours
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 13 hours 12 minutes
Cuisine South Indian
Course Breakfast
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 14 Millet Idli


  • 200 grams foxtail millet (navane or kangni or thinai or korra) or 1 cup thinai
  • 80 grams idli rice or raw rice or ⅓ cup rice – I used sona masoori rice
  • 80 grams urad dal or ⅓ cup urad dal
  • 1.5 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • salt to taste
  • water – as required for grinding, approximately ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons water


Soaking millet and grinding the batter

  • First wash the foxtail millet and rice twice with water. Drain, soak with fresh water for 4 to 5 hours.
  • Rinse, drain and soak urad dal and 1½ teaspoon methi seeds together separately for 4 to 5 hours.
  • Then, drain the millet-rice mixture, discard the water. Add this to the mixer/grinder.
  • Grind adding about ¼ cup of water in small amounts, grind to form a slightly grainy, neither too thin nor too thick batter. Pour this into another deep container.
  • Drain the urad dal-methi seeds mixture. Retain the water.
  • Add the dal, methi seeds to the same mixer/grinder and grind adding about 2 tablespoons of reserved water to form a smooth mixture.
  • Pour this to the same deep container. Mix both the batters well adding salt to taste.

Fermenting batter

  • Cover and place in a warm area to ferment overnight (about 8 to 10 hours).
  • The next morning, the batter should have risen well. You will be able to note bubbles of fermentation as you stir gently with a ladle.

Making thinai idli

  • To make the millet idli, add water to the steamer or a large pot and heat.
  • Meanwhile, grease the idli moulds with oil.
  • Pour batter into each of the depressions.
  • Place the filled idli stand inside the steamer once it begins to steam.
  • Cover and steam for 12 to 14 minutes or until a fork/knife inserted at the center of the idli comes out clean.
  • Remove the idli plates.
  • Using a spoon dipped in water, slide along the base of each idli and remove carefully.
  • Serve Millet Idli with chutney/sambar of your choice.


  • If you live in a cold region, pre-heat the oven to 50 degrees Celsius. Place the container inside. Remember to turn off the heat when you place the container inside the oven. But leave the oven light on. Allow the batter to ferment overnight.
  • The recipe can be scaled to make a small batch or make more servings. 
  • Warm temperature is crucial for proper fermentation. In cooler climates, the batter will take more time to ferment.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Millet Idli (With Foxtail Millet)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 93 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 0.1g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g
Sodium 84mg4%
Potassium 36mg1%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 3g13%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 1IU0%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.1mg7%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.05mg3%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 0.1mg5%
Vitamin C 0.3mg0%
Vitamin E 0.01mg0%
Vitamin K 0.1µg0%
Calcium 6mg1%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 26µg7%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 18mg5%
Phosphorus 47mg5%
Zinc 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This Millet Idli recipe from the archives was originally published on November 2015. It has been updated and republished on May 2024.

Share This Recipe:


Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

Get My Secrets to Great Indian Food
Sign up for my FREE Beginners Guide to Delicious Indian Cooking

More Vegetarian Recipes You'll Love