thinai idli | foxtail millet idli | fluffy savory okra idli

Okra idli or thinai idli or Foxtail millet idli recipe with step by step photos – light, fluffy, steamed cakes made with foxtail millet and rice.

My family love idli in any form. they love having it for breakfast/snack/lunch and even dinner. Easy to serve and easy to eat. Idlis have been regularly cooked and enjoyed in nearly every household in south India.

thinai idli recipe how to make foxtail millet idli recipe

This idli recipe however is different. As a millet (which is technically a seed, but classed as a grain) has been used instead of rice.

Below are the names in a few Indian languages for foxtail millet:

Foxtail milletKangniThinaiNavaneKorra

In this idli recipe, the foxtail millet is used in larger proportions as compared to rice. Foxtail millet is a yellowish colored millet and known by different names as above.

Being rich in fiber, protein and minerals, these millet grains have the quality to stop blood sugar from rising too quickly, soon after consumption.

Millets in general can be substituted for rice in many recipes making it more suitable for diabetics and promoting heart health.

Did you know, Magnesium found in large quantities in millets, has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and helps Prevent heart attacks especially in those with atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.

Not simply that, millets and other whole grains help in Preventing Type 2 diabetes, by lowering the risk, quite remarkably. Again the magnesium which is abundant in the millets, acts as a co-factor in the functioning of several enzymes including those which are involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion, thereby beneficial in diabetics. Read more.

One consideration that might come to mind when including millets in the diet, might be the suggestion of presence of goitrogens – substances which lead to Goiter-enlargement of the thyroid gland. however as you can read Here, if you begin to eliminate every such ingredient which is potentially ‘goitrogenic’; examples of which can be vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, spinach;  gluten, soy based products and even strawberries, peanuts; for the ‘fear’ of goitrogenic effects, you would be missing out on many nutrients these vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts provide.

So the bottom line is Moderation. include a variety of vegetables including the above but steam, cook or ferment them to remove goitrogens; include a variety of whole grains such as brown rice, barley, rye, wheat, millets and so on, in your diet and do not over indulge but Rotate your choices. this will leave you far from being compromised in any way.

However, if you have been Advised to avoid certain foods by your doctor or dietitian, then please do as advised.

Using a wet-grinder to grind the batter, also well fermented batter will yield softer, fluffier idlis. Using a damp muslin cloth over the idli mold depressions to pour the batter, also results in softer idlis. For more tips, check out this post on How to make soft idli recipe.

Serve Foxtail millet idli with chutney and sambar for breakfast or evening snack.

Few more South Indian breakfast recipes you may like are:

STEP BY STEP PHOTOS ABOVEMany of my recipes have detailed step by step photos and useful tips to help you make it easily and perfectly.

foxtail millet idli recipe

5 from 1 vote
Foxtail millet idli is light, savory idlis made with foxtail millet and rice. Foxtail millet is also known as 'navane' in kannada, 'thinai' in tamil, 'kangni' in hindi, 'korra' in telugu
foxtail millet idli recipe, thinai idli recipe
Author:Dassana Amit
Prep Time:13 hrs
Cook Time:12 mins
Total Time:13 hrs 12 mins
Cuisine:South Indian
Servings (change the number to scale):12 to 15 idlis
(1 CUP = 250 ML)


  • 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 (methi dana)
  • salt to taste
  • water as required - approximately ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons water


soaking grains 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 idli batter

  • Cover and place in a warm area to ferment overnight (approx 12 hours)
  • If you live in a cold region, pre-heat the oven to 50 deg c. Place the container inside. Turn off the heat. But leave the oven light on.
  • 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.

preparing thinai idli

  • To make the idlis, add water to the steamer and heat.
  • Meanwhile, grease the idli molds with oil or ghee.
  • 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 thinai idli with chutney/sambar of your choice.
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Step by step foxtail millet idli or thinai idli recipe

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

millet for thinai idli recipe

2. Wash ⅓  cup (80 grams) urad dal and 1½ teaspoon methi seeds together. I used split urad dal which is available here. Using whole urad will yield softer idlis, as I have understood.

dal for thinai idli recipe

3. Drain the washed, foxtail millet and rice mixture, soak with fresh water for 4 to 5 hours.

mixture for thinai idli recipe

4. After rinsing, drain and then soak urad dal and methi seeds adding fresh water, separately for 4 to 5 hours.

preparing thinai idli recipe

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.

thinai idli recipe

6. Drain the urad dal-methi seeds mixture. Retain the water. Add these to the mixer/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)

making thinai idli recipe

7. Grind urad dal mixture as below.

making thinai idli recipe

8. Add the urad dal batter to the same container as the millet batter.

making thinai idli recipe

9. Add salt to taste.

making thinai idli recipe

10. Mix well.

preparing thinai idli recipe

11. Cover with a lid. Allow to ferment overnight in a warm area. If living in a cold region, place the container inside a pre-heated oven at 50 deg C (the lowest temperature in the oven). Turn off the heat. Leave the oven light turned on. Allow the batter to ferment overnight.

making thinai idli recipe

12. The next morning, the batter should have 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.

batter for making thinai idli recipe

13. You will be able to note bubbles of fermentation as you stir gently with a ladle.

batter for foxtail millet idli recipe

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.

batter for foxtail millet idli recipe

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

making foxtail millet idli recipe

16. Steamed and ready idlis. 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.

thinai idli recipe, foxtail millet idli recipe

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

thinai idli recipe, foxtail millet idli recipe

18. Serve foxtail millet idli with chutney or sambar of your choice. I served them with regular coconut chutney with ginger and red coconut chutney.

thinai idli recipe, how to make foxtail millet idli recipe

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Dassana Amit

Dassana Amitnamaste and welcome to which i started in feb 2009 and is a pure vegetarian blog. i have been passionate about cooking from childhood and began to cook from the age of 10. later having enrolled in a home science degree greatly enhanced my cooking & baking skills and took it to a different level which i now share as foolproof recipes. i was formally trained both in mainstream indian as well as international cuisines.

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9 comments/reviews

  1. Can the same batter be used as Dosa batter too?

    • you can use the thinai idli batter as a dosa batter. if the batter is thick, then add some water and mix very well – so that the dosa batter can be spread easily.

  2. Hello,
    Mam,I am a regular reader and follower of your recipes .
    I wanted to ask whether I can soak all these together. Is it compulsory to soak millets+rice separately ?
    Another thing ,whenever we soak for idlis ,can we use the soaked water while we grind?
    Kindly reply.
    Warm regards,
    Sindhu Embramadathil.

    • thanks sindhu. you can soak everything together. yes you can use the soaked water to grind. welcome and happy cooking.

  3. Hi there,

    Great recipe, Please do not drain the soaked millet water,may loose the good stuff in millets. You can use for grinding.

  4. Lovely recipe

    • thank you ankita 🙂

  5. Very nice recipe. Thanks for sharing.
    Is foxtail millet mean Ragi??5 stars

    • welcome and thank you Anupam Thakur. ragi is finger millet which is sort of dark purple in color. foxtail millet is thinai another millet which is yellowish in color.