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.
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.
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.
If you are looking for more Fasting recipes then do check:
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sama ke chawal ki idli
- 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
This Vrat ki Idli Post from the archives first published in October 2013 has been updated and republished on December 2022.
Can we eat baking soda in fast
Baking Soda is pure Sodium Bicarbonate. According to me you can use it. But not baking powder as it has a grain flour – cornstarch. But some folks use baking soda and some don’t. It depends from family to family.
I made these idlis yesterday. They were a little bit on the harder side. I think it is because of sabudana. Have you tried without adding sabudana, only with sama chaval?
these are not hard. did you add enough water for grinding. the batter should not be very thick. the batter can be of medium consistency or slightly thick like idli batter. if sabudana does not get soaked well, then also the idli can become hard. so here both the batter should have the enough water in it and sabudana should be soaked well. i have never made without sabudana. but you can try. hope this helps.
Instead of idli can we make dosa of the same batter.
Charu, i didn’t made dosa with this batter. so don’t know. if you try then do let us know. i will experiment and try to post dosa recipe as well.
ate this just now.. it was amazing.. so I had to come and leave a comment… I love idli and thanks to you I can fulfill my idli cravings during navratri tooo…
welcome naina. glad to know that you liked this idli recipe. i will try to experiment and post sama ke chawal ka dosa also.
I used the same batter .. just added a little water and amazing dosas were made.. have shared the recipe with other family members and they too cooked and loved the idlis/dosas from this batter..
thanks naina for letting me know. i will give a try this time. also thanks for sharing the recipe with your family members.
I tried these as directed but turned out very hard from inside. Any suggestions ? Thanks
if water in the batter added is less, then the idli becomes dense and hard. so this could be the reason. the amount of baking soda can be also increased a bit to make the idli soft and fluffy. hope these tips help.
I prefer to eat at night during navratri. Can I keep the batter in the fridge in the morning and use it at night to make idlis?
naina, you can keep the batter in the fridge and prepare idlis at night.