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Bajra Idli (Steamed Pearl Millet Savoury Cakes)

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Gluten Free Bajra Idli is steamed savoury cakes made using Pearl Millet. Nutritious and easy to cook. It can be simply enjoyed with a dollop of ghee or butter. It is Vegan, and perfect for your morning breakfast, kids lunchbox or your meal.

4 Idlis served along with chutney, sambar, podi with ghee on a white plate

What is Bajra?

Bajra called Pearl Millet in English. One of the nutritious millet grown in Africa and India. Staple. It is well adapted to growing in arid areas or areas characterized by low soil quality or drought. Hence it is no surprise that Rajasthan, India is one of the largest producing states for Bajra.

Bajra refers to the edible seeds of Pearl Millet plants. Its seeds are tiny and typically cooked as a grain or used as a flour. Bajre ka Raab, a drink made from yoghurt and bajra is very common in Rajasthan.

According to Healthline, this is low in calories, and may also promote weight loss and may improve sugar levels.


How to eat Bajra for maximum benefits

Bajra is generally eaten during winters and provides natural warmth to the body. To gain the maximum benefits of this grain, it is advised to eat it with Gud/Jaggery or Ghee. According to Ayurveda, if these three are combined it helps in maximum absorption of calcium and iron.

Recipes with Bajra

Hence one of my favourite during the winter season is to make this Bajre ki Tikki aka Pearl Millet Cookies, which uses Bajra, Gud and sesame. Sesame another must during the winter season.

Bajra Paratha or Bhakri as called in Maharashtra, with Spicy Garlic chutney is another healthy and delicious everyday food. One of my favourites is this Stuffed Bajra Paratha with Pudina Raita. A must during the winter season.

4 Idlis served along with chutney and sambar

One-Pot meals with Bajra

On regular days, when we need something light, during winters, I love to cook this Bajre ka Bhat a one-pot meal made using Bajra and this Bajra and Green moong dal khichdi. Both the recipes are easy and quick to make, and kids’ favourite too.

However, this grain is at times not liked by the fussy eaters. So one needs to find ways to add it to your diet. I make all the above but still at times it is difficult.

As the texture of bajra is a bit dry in bajra paratha it is not enjoyed wholeheartedly by kids. So along with my one-pot meals, I also make this Bajra Idlis.

I am making this Idli now for a few years. The texture of this Idli is soft and porous and kids loved to binge on this. And I am telling the truth, try this for yourself and let me know if your kids loved it in comments below. I am all ears to listen to your feedback.

This time, when I made this, it was my little one’s first try for Bajra Idli. She happily ate it with Butter and told her dad I made different colour Idli again :-). It is different, but I liked it. And an honest review to her dad without me being nearby. So job done.

Close up look of Bajra Idli showing soft and porous texture

If you are a follower of my blog you might know I make different types of idlis. The reason it comes in handy as it is easier to cook and kids love it. So if you are looking for different varieties check these different types of Idlis on my blog.

Rice free Idlis

This Bajra Idli has some bit of rice in it. However, if you are looking for Rice free Idlis, check this Kulith Idli or Horse Gram Idli and this Split Green Moong Dal Idli. Completely rice-free, loaded with proteins, little carbs and healthy.

Recipe Process of Bajra Idli

Ingredients used in Bajra Idli

I have used Whole Bajra, rice, urad dal and a few fenugreek seeds to make the batter. One can add ¼ cup of soaked Poha or cooked rice to the batter if you are struggling with fermentation or Idlis are not turning soft.

Fermenting the Batter

Grind the batter with just enough water. Do not add too much water or else the batter will not ferment or Idlis will turn hard. You check my detail post on how to Ferment Idli Dosa batter in a cold climate. It has all the detail tips and tricks.

I have fermented this batter when we had snow here and temperatures were around -7 Deg C. It takes a bit longer like 18-20 hours, but if you follow the tips and tricks on how to ferment the batter in a cold climate you should be able to ferment it successfully always.

Why are my Idlis hard?

Do not grind the batter with too much water. Add only as needed. Adding too much water in the batter results in hard Idlis. Also if you keep the batter in the fridge, it is best to let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Cooking time for Bajra Idli

As Bajra is a little hard to cook, I cook this Idlis for 15 minutes instead of 10. They are perfectly done in 15 minutes and you get the perfect soft and porous texture.

Can this be stored?

Idlis can be stored at room temperature for 7-8 hours. However, I prefer it piping hot. Many even store cooked Idli in the freezer, I have not tried that as for me it is easier to make the batter as the batter can be refrigerated for 4-5 days.

Can batter be stored?

Yes, you can store the batter for 4-5 days in the fridge. It is said the batter can be stored in the freezer too. I have not yet tried storing batter in the freezer.

Can I make Dosa with the same batter?

Yes, you can make Dosa too with the same batter. I made it and it was delicious. I forgot to take the pic :-(. Make dosa with old batter, i.e. after 1-2 days. As the batter gets fermented more it adds a slightly tangy taste and makes crisp dosa.

How to eat this Bajra Idlis

Chutney and sambar go perfectly with this Bajra Idli. You can also enjoy it with a dollop of ghee for maximum benefits. It goes well with butter too or simply smear Idli with podi and ghee.

We enjoyed this with Chutney, Sambar and a bit of Horse gram podi and ghee. Absolutely comforting.

4 Idlis served along with chutney, sambar, podi with ghee on a white plate
4 Idlis served along with chutney and sambar

Bajra Idli (Steamed Pearl Millet Savoury Cakes)

Gluten Free Bajra Idli is steamed savoury cakes made using Pearl Millet. Nutritious, easy and perfect for your morning breakfast, kids lunchbox or your meal.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Breakfast, Lunch
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian
Keyword: Finger Food, Gluten Free, Idli, Kids Food, Lunch Box, Millet, Steamed, Travel Food, Vegan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Fermentation & Soaking Time: 18 hours
Servings: 20 Idli
Author: Renu Agrawal-Dongre


  • 1 Cup Pearl Millet – Bajra
  • 1/4 cup Idli Rice.
  • 1/4 cup Urad Dal.
  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds – Methi Dana
  • Oil for greasing the Idli stand.
  • Salt
  • ¼ Cup Poha or Cooked Rice – – Optional
  • Water for Idli Steamer


  • Clean and rinse the Bajra, Idli Rice separately, until clear water runs through
    Bajra getting soaked
  • Clean and rinse the Urad Dal and Methi seeds until clear water runs through.
  • Soak the Bajra, Idli Rice separately in enough water for 5-7 hours.
    Soaked Rice
  • Soak the Urad Dal and Methi seeds separately in enough water for 5-7 hours
    Soaked Urad Dal (Split Black Gram)
  • After 5-7 hours, drain the water and give a quick rinse again.
  • Grind the Bajra and Idli rice with just enough water to a smooth consistency.
  • If adding Poha or cooked rice, add it along with Idli rice while grinding.
  • Grind the urad dal along with methi seeds until smooth and fluffy.
  • Add all the ground batter into a large steel pot or container.
    Pearl Millet Idli Batter
  • Add salt and in anticlockwise direction with clean hands mix in the batter for 2-3 minutes.
  • Let the batter ferment in a warm place for 12 hours or overnight. You check my detail post on how to Ferment Idli Dosa batter in a cold climate. It has all the detail tips and tricks.
  • Once the batter is fermented, fill the idli steamer with water, making sure that the base of idli stand is well above the water level when kept inside it.
    Fermented Bajra Idli Batter
  • If you do not have Idli steamer, you can use clean bowls or muffin cases. In that case in a large pot add water, put an insert down and on top of that keep the muffin cases or bowls.
  • Let the water come to a boil.
  • In the meantime grease, the Idli Stand with little oil (just rub it with your fingers or with a silicone brush.
  • With the help of a spoon fill the moulds of the Idli Stand. Do not overfill
  • Once the water starts boiling, immerse the Idli stand in it, and close the lid.
    Idli ready to be steamed in Steamer
  • Cook the idli’s for a minimum of 15 minutes, Idlis should be done.
  • To test prick a knife or a toothpick, it should come out clean. If not let it cook for another 5 mins.
  • Remove it from the pot, and separate each of the Idli steamer trays.
    Steamed Idlis
  • Sprinkle some cold water on top. (Just a few drops). Let the idlis cool for a minute.
  • Remove them with the help of a spoon.
    Taking out Idlis with the help of a spoon
  • Enjoy.


  • Standard US Cup size used.
  • One can use any cup size. Just keep the ratio of ingredients the same.
  • Do not add too much, as this leads to batter not getting fermented properly.
  • You check my detail post on how to Ferment Idli Dosa batter in a cold climate. It has all the detail tips and tricks.
  • Read the tips and tricks above in the post, on how to store the batter, Idli etc. 
Tried this recipe?Share your feedback @cookwithrenu_ad or tag #cookwithrenu_ad


The recipe first appeared on Cook with Renu on 17th August 2017. Today I have updated the pics, content and added Recipe card.


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5 from 1 vote
Recipe Rating

Mayuri Patel

Monday 18th of January 2021

I've prepared bajra idli a couple of times and simply love them. A great way to get the family young and old to enjoy the health benefits of pearl millet. Your idlis look so soft and now you're tempting me to make them soon.


Wednesday 13th of January 2021

You had me at the porous texture of Idlis - so inviting . We love experimenting with diff idlis too and this has my generous vote !! great job...