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Proso Millet Idli  (Vegan & Gluten-Free Steamed Millet Cakes)

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Soft and fluffy, Proso Millet Idli is a rice-free idli that can be enjoyed for breakfast or as part of your main meals. 

Idli served in a blue plate with Chettinad Spicy Red chili chutney. Seen in the background are some porso millet in a white bowl and a pink scarf.
Proso Millet Idli with Vara Milagai Chutney (Chettinad Spicy Red chili chutney).

These idlis or steamed rice-free cakes are vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. They are made with a fermented batter made using Proso millet and Split Black gram dal. 

The idlis are steamed, using minimum or zero oil. They are best served piping hot for breakfast or for your main meals along with some coconut chutney, sambar, or this Kongu Thakkali Kuzhambu | Coimbatore Style Vegan Tomato Curry.

As they are soft and full of nutrition, these Idlis are also an ideal food for your toddler, or best packed for your kids or your lunchbox. They are also a great travel food or picnic idea. 

What is Proso Millet

Proso millet is another type of millet and is widely grown and consumed in India. It is called Chena/barri in Hindi, Cheno (Gujarati), Vari in Marathi, Pani Varagu in Tamil, etc. It is believed to have various health benefits associated with it.

How to consume Proso Millet

Like other millets, Proso millet too can be consumed in a variety of different ways. One can make Millet Upma, Khichdi, pulav, dosa, chila (Pancakes), ladoo with this millet

Millets in your diet

I love to add millet in my diet. Every week I make one or two meals that involve either one of the millets. So be it Barnyard Millet, Foxtail millet, ragi, etc. Some millets take time to acquire the taste. One can add this slowly to your diet.

Recipe with Millets

To start off with this proso millet idli, or foxtail millet idli are a good replacement for the usual Rice Idli. If you are looking to make a rice-free khichdi try this Samak rice khichdi or barnyard millet Khichdi

Another healthy idli is this Ragi Idli which I make using whole ragi grains. I do have an Instant version of Ragi idli which uses ragi flour too, but I love the one with whole grains, as that uses the fermented batter and is good for digestion.

How to make Idli – Ingredients used in making Idli.

Idlis are generally made with a fermented batter of Rice and Black Gram dal. The rice can be replaced with millet or grains and one can make different varieties. There are many varieties of idlis and my blog too has more than 10 varieties of Idlis. Yes, I love to make Idlis, They are healthy, easy to make, and kid-friendly. 

Kids at times do not eat with chutney or sambar. Like my daughter loves to eat it with Butter. The leftover idlis can too be turned into delicious snacks. Our favorite is Idli fry, which earlier I sue to fry but now I do that in an Air Fryer

Proso Millet Idli with Vara Milagai Chutney (Chettinad Spicy Red chili chutney).

Idli Dosa Batter 

The rice and dal are soaked overnight or for at least 6-8 hours. Then it is ground to a smooth batter and allowed to ferment. Fermenting at times is trickier especially if you are living in a cold climate.

Fermenting Idli Dosa Batter

For me, it was a challenge as I am living in a country where the temperature is usually in the range of -5 to 15. So I tried a lot of ideas and finally, I am able to ferment my batter every time. I have a detailed post here on how to ferment Idli Dosa batter in cold climates.

Time require to ferment Idli Batter

If you are in a hot environment, the batter gets fermented in 6-10 hours. But if you are in a cold environment it might take more time. At times it even takes 24 hours, so you need to be patient. 

What if the Idli dosa batter does not appear fermented?

One point to note however is that at times the batter might not be fermented even after 24 hours, but you certainly can use it to make Idli and dosa. I have done this many times and they come good. Just make sure it has not gone moldy, which is unlikely if you follow all hygiene practices. 

Equipment used to make Idli  

Once the batter is made, the idlis are steamed in an Idli steamer. If you do not have one do not worry, you can still make it in individual bowls or cupcake molds. Even a small plate will work and will give you something similar to thatte idli.

Shelf life of Idli Dosa Batter

Making a batter at times is time-consuming. And people fret about that. But once you have the batter ready, it stays good for 4-5 days or more. Also, the same batter can be used to make dosa or uttapam the next day. The more it gets fermented, the better it tastes.

Proso Millet Idli Ingredients

Coming to today’s recipe of Proso Millet Idli, I have used Proso Millet, Urad dal (Split black gram dal), and a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. I have not added any soaked poha or leftover rice. But to aid the fermentation process one can add a handful if required. 

It is always a good idea to soak millet before making any recipe with it. It helps in digestion as well as fastening the cooking process. And as with all the Idli batters, I soak the millet, dal, and fenugreek seeds for 6-8 hours. 

Once soaked a quick rinse to get rid of any impurities and then I grind it to a smooth batter. I then add salt and give a nice mix with my hand. This helps in the fermentation process as it injects good bacteria into the batter. You can read more about how to ferment Idli dosa batter here.

Idli served in a white rectangular plate with Chettinad Spicy Red chili chutney.

Cooking of Proso Millet Idlis

Once you have the batter ready, grease Idli mould or individual bowls or whatever you are using with very little oil. Add a spoonful of batter in each mould and steam for 10-12 minutes. They are done when you insert a knife and it comes out clean. I now do not even check this, they are generally done in 12 minutes when you steam it on a full stove.

Once done, you remove it from the steamer. Allow the idlis to settle for a minute and using a spoon gently remove it. They should be done.

Replacement of Proso Millet

One can use any kind of millet instead of proso millet in this recipe.

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Idli served in a blue plate with Chettinad Spicy Red chili chutney. Seen in the background are some porso millet in a white bowl and a pink scarf.
Soft and fluffy, Proso Millet Idli is a rice-free, Vegan and Gluten-free idli that can be enjoyed for breakfast or as part of your main meals.
Idli served in a blue plate with Chettinad Spicy Red chili chutney. Seen in the background are some Proso millet in a white bowl and a pink scarf.

Proso Millet Idli (Vegan and Gluten-Free Steamed Millet Cakes)

Soft and fluffy, Proso Millet Idli is a rice-free idli that can be enjoyed for breakfast or as part of your main meals.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Save
Course: Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine: South Indian
Keyword: Gluten Free, Healthy, Kids Food, Lunch Box, Millet, Steamed, Toddler Food, Vegan
Author: Renu Agrawal-Dongre


  • 3 cup Proso Millet
  • 1 Cup Split Black Gram Dal Urad Dal
  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
  • Salt
  • Water as required
  • 1 tablespoon oil Only for greasing the moulds


Preparing the batter

  • Clean and Rinse the Proso millet nicely 3-4 times.
    3 cup Proso Millet
  • Add fenugreek seeds in Urad dal and clean and rinse it nicely 3-4 times.
    1 Cup Split Black Gram Dal, 1 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
  • Soak them separately in enough water (Double the quantity) for 6-8 hours.
    Water as required
  • Drain the water and give the millet and dal a good rinse again.
  • Grind the dal to a smooth consistency. Do not add too much water, but only as required.
  • Similarly, grind the millet to a smooth consistency.
  • Pour the batter into a large container/pot, as the batter needs space to ferment.
  • Add salt, and Mix the mixture nicely with your hand for around 2-3 minutes so that the millet and dal get mixed evenly and the air is incorporated into the batter.
  • Keep it in a warm location for 8-9 hours or more, preferably overnight in a warm location. Check notes on how to Successfully Ferment the Batter in Cold Climate
    Fermented Millet Idli Batter.
  • Fermented Millet Idli Batter.

Preparing the Proso Millet Idli

  • Fill a large pot with water, or your Idli pot with water.
  • Make sure that the base of the idli stand is well above the water level when kept inside it.
  • Keep the water boiling.
  • In the meantime grease, the Idli Stand with little oil (just rub it with your fingers). I use just a drop of oil for each.
    1 tablespoon oil
  • Add salt to the batter if not added and adjust the consistency.
    Idli Batter Consistency.
  • Idli batter is of dropping consistency but not runny.
  • With the help of a spoon fill the moulds of the Idli Stand. Do not overfill.
    Idlis ready to be steamed in a Idli pot.
  • Once the water starts boiling, immerse the Idli stand in it, and close the lid.
  • Cook the idli for a minimum of 10-12 minutes.
  • Idlis should be done.
    Steamed millet idlis in Idli pot.
  • To test prick a knife or a toothpick, it should come out clean. If not let it cook for another 3-4 mins.
  • Remove it from the pot, separate each of the stand layers, and let it cool for a minute.
  • Remove them with the help of a spoon, they come out easily.
  • Yummy Idlis are ready.
  • Enjoy it with Coconut Coriander Chutney and Sambar.
  • One can even make Dosa from the same batter


  • 1 Cup = 235 ml, 1 tablespoon= 15 ml, 1 teaspoon = 5 ml
  • One can use any cup size, just make sure that the ratio you use is 1:3 for Black gram dal to Proso Millet
  • Any other kind of millet can be replaced in this recipe.
  • For people in a cold climate or facing issues with fermenting the batter, check out my detailed post here on how to Successfully Ferment the Batter in Cold Climate.
  • Missed taking pics before and after soaking millet and dal, will update it next time.
  • Excuse the quality of step-by-step pics, as was done in the dark and in hurry.
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5 from 1 vote
Recipe Rating

Sneha Datar

Monday 7th of November 2022

Love this rice free idli, perfect for vrat!

Sneha Datar

Monday 7th of November 2022

Love these rice free idli so healthy and perfect for vrat days!

Mayuri Patel

Sunday 6th of November 2022

I've yet to use proso millet in my kitchen. I use so many millets and wondering how I've missed out on this one. Proso millet idlis look so good and now I am craving for some.


Sunday 6th of November 2022

I have an egg poacher with little cups that would be perfect for steaming idli! Can't wait to try this. I've ordered idli in Indian restaurants but have never tried to make them myself.