Sama ke chawal ki idli | Vrat ki Idli | Vari rice idli

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Sama chawal, which is not actually rice but a seed, is a very popular ingredient in India. It is used in the recipes of many dishes that are consumed during the religious fasting season. This Sama Chawal Idli or Vrat ki Idli is a unique variation to the South Indian idlis. These are made without the regular rice, but with sama ke chawal. Thus, a perfect choice of dish for your vrats or fasts and even on regular days. A vegan, gluten free and quite a nutritious recipe.

sama chawal idli served on a square white plate with a small bowl of coconut chutney kept on the top left side.

This is a fermented idli made from sama, samo, samvat or vari rice which is a millet grain used during fasting in India. I had made the idlis yesterday on the first day of Navratri fasts. Accompanied the idli with a no onion no garlic coconut chutney.

Apart from sama ke chawal (barnyard millet) I have also added sabudana (tapioca pearls). These idlis are not like the regular idlis, but for fasting they are good. So don’t expect them to be soft and fluffy like regular idlis. I am not saying they are hard. They were soft but don’t compare the softness with the idlis made from rice and urad dal.

On fasting days I prefer to have something light and healthy. So made these idlis. The batter is allowed to ferment overnight. There is a pleasant sour aroma the next day in the batter. To leaven I have added baking soda which does help in making the idlis rise while steaming.

sama idli recipe

A variation of these vrat ki idlis would be to add 1 to 2 tbsp yogurt and then add the baking soda before making the idlis. with the same batter, even khatta dhokla can be made.

For making dhoklas, stir in about 1/2 cup sour yogurt (curd) in the ground batter. Leave to ferment overnight. Before preparing, add 1 tsp eno or fruit salt and steam the batter to make dhokla.

To make these idlis, I just added about 2 pinches of baking soda in the batter. Since I don’t like the soapy aroma of baking soda, I always add less. If you don’t mind, then you can easily add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Other recipes you can make from sama ke chawal are Sama rice kheer, Vrat ke uttapam, Sama chawal khichdi and Sama ke chawal ka pulao.

Apart from being an excellent source of fibre, sama rice is also rich in proteins, low in calories and is ideal for diabetics. So do try to include them in your diet.

If you are planning to keep Navratri fast then you can refer this detailed post on Navratri recipes and vrat rules.

Kindly note that you can make these vrat ki idlis without the baking soda too. However, in that case, idlis will be slightly dense but still taste good. If you can use fruit salt (Eno), it is also a substitute.

vrat ki idli or sama ki idli

If you are looking for more Fasting recipes then do check:

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sama ke chawal ki idli recipe, vrat ki idli recipe

sama ke chawal ki idli

Vrat ki idli recipe – idli made without rice which you can make for fasting or for regular days too.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 9 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 9 hours 10 minutes
Cuisine Indian
Course Breakfast
Servings 9 to 10 idlis


  • 1 cup sama ke chawal (barnyard millet)
  • ½ cup sabudana (tapioca pearls)
  • 2 pinches of baking soda
  • rock salt (edible and food grade) as required
  • soak for 2-3 hours.
  • water for soaking


  • Take both the sama ke chawal and sabudana in a bowl.
  • Rinse then well and soak in enough water for 3 hours.
  • Drain and then grind in a wet grinder.
  • No need to add any water as the sago grains absorb enough water to help with the grinding. But if you are unable to grind in your grinder then just add 2-3 tsp of water.
  • The consistency of the batter can be a bit granular.
  • Take the batter in a bowl and allow to ferment for 8-9 hours or overnight,
  • Before preparing, add salt to the batter and mix well.
  • Heat water in a steamer or an electric cooker.
  • Add the baking soda to the batter and stir well.
  • Pour the batter in greased idli moulds.
  • Place in the steamer or electric cooker.
  • Steam the idlis for 8-10 minutes or till they are cooked.
  • Serve sama ke idlis hot or warm with your favorite coconut chutney

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This Vrat ki Idli Post from the archives first published in October 2013 has been updated and republished on December 2022.

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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.

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  1. Hi Dasanna, any other substitute for soda? Is soda necessary..we generally avoid soda for ekadasi fasting. Thanks for a wonderful recipe but!:)

    1. prepare without soda divyapriya. they will be slightly dense if soda is not used, but will still taste good. if you use eno or fruit salt, then you can add eno instead.

  2. Thank u dasana ji i tried to make idlis for fast firsr time and it turned out really tasty n soft too this navrata is just awesome because of ur reciepes many new varietes for fasting thank u

    1. we are glad to know you got new varieties of recipes to try from our food blog 🙂 you are welcome and thankyou.

  3. Tried Dhokla and idli absolutely amazing!!! If you thin the idli batter amazing Dosas were made from it! Divine recipe!5 stars

    1. himani, some people use and some people don’t use. it depends upon family to family.