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Ragi Idli using whole Ragi seeds (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

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Ragi Idli using whole Ragi are soft and healthy steamed breakfast or a meal from South of India and are made using nutritious whole Ragi seeds also known as Finger Millet or Nachni. 

5 Ragi Idlis presented in a cream serving plate, with green coriander chutney, Idli podi and sambar. Seen in the background are some flowers and a glass of water

Steamed food like Idlis and Dhoklas are one of my favorite breakfast, lunch box, or travel snack options. The reason being they are healthy, quick to make once you have the batter ready. They also go well as finger food. So while you are traveling or you have a super active kid who refuses to sit and eat, such food goes well.

I have been making Ragi Idli and Dosa using ragi seeds now for more than a year but was unable to post the recipe. So when Anu Kollon from Ente Thattukada announced the theme as Steamed Dishes for this month’s Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge,

I thought of finally posting this recipe. Anu has come up with a delicious and healthy Kerala Style Steamed Rice Cakes – Vattayappam. Check out her recipe and pics, they are too tempting and definitely a must-try.

I asked my partner Swaty Malik who blogs at Food-Trials, If I can go ahead with this dish. She gave me Fenugreek seeds and Idli rice as the secret ingredient and Viola one healthy millet dish is added on the blog. I gave Swaty Oats Flour and Ajwain (Carom seeds) as the secret ingredient and she prepared this delicious Doodhi Muthiya and I liked her twist of adding oats flour to it.

As the co-admin, Mayuri Ji did from Mayuri Jikoni’s did not had any partner I gave her the secret ingredients. She made this interesting steamed as she did not had a partner. She made this Vegetarian Bao Buns & Sweet and Sour Sauce, a completely new dish to me. I am going to try this soon.

So what is Ragi? 

I have already detailed a lot about gluten free Ragi millet or Finger Millet or Nachni in my earlier post on Instant Ragi Dosa recipe.  Summarizing in Short Ragi is a gluten free millet and a good source of calcium and iron. One of the superfoods and it aids in weight loss too.

Today’s recipe uses the whole ragi seeds against ragi flour. Ragi seeds are tiny dark brown like small seeds that resemble mustard seeds.

Ragi Seeds or grains or Finger Millet or Nachni

My earlier recipes of Instant Ragi Idli, Instant Ragi Dosa were using Ragi Flour. This comes out handy when you do not have the time or have not prepared the batter well ahead of time. However, I like to use the whole ragi and ferment the batter as fermenting food is healthier than the instant ones. 

Why Fermentation?

Fermentation is a natural process where the carbs – sugar, and starches in food are broken down using naturally occurring yeast and bacteria. Fermented food becomes easier to digest and improves your gut health, Fermentation process creates a distinct sour flavor to different recipes. Fermentation is a common process followed worldwide.

Different types of vegetables are fermented. For example, we ferment and make a delicious drink using carrots, radish, vada (Fried urad dumplings)  just before summer. It is called Kanji.  It helps the body during the change in climate and is refreshing as well. Worldwide Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, etc. are fermented. My most recent experiment with fermented food is Spelt and Rye Breakfast Sourdough Bread. Once you start making sourdough bread, you will not buy the store-bought yeast bread.

Close up look of 5 Ragi Idlis

Ingredients Used in Fermented Ragi Idli

Whole Ragi Seeds, Urad Dal/ black gram/ split white lentil, Idli Rice, and fenugreek seeds are the ingredients used in the recipe. I make this recipe using Whole or split white urad dal. I have once made it using Black whole urad dal too. The texture of those Idlis was a bit too coarse and hence I switched it to the white one. 

Next, I use Idli rice, which is a short grain type of rice. One can use parboiled rice or any thick variety of rice too for idli, if not available. At times I even use Brown rice instead of idli rice. I have included the pic of both in brown rice and once soaked in normal Idli rice.

Fenugreek seeds are optional but it helps in digestion and hence I always add it to my idli dosa batter.

Texture of the Ragi Idli, Light and Soft

Soaking, Grinding & Fermenting of The Ragi Batter

I have soaked all the ingredients together. But one can soak them separately too. Soaking together helps in grinding all the ingredients to a smooth paste and hence I do so. I have tried soaking ragi separately and rice and dal separately, so that works too.

I do grind in a normal Mixer and Grinder. If you have the traditional mixer for grinding, I think the ragi would grind better.

Do not add too much water while grinding. We need a thick batter so that the batter ferments well and we get perfect idlis. For tips on how to grind the batter and ferment the batter in cold climate check out my detailed post on Fermenting Idli Dosa Batter in Cold Climate. Check out the below batter, which I have fermented in around 0-5 Deg C.

Can we prepare dosa using the same batter

Yes, of course, you can make dosa using the same batter.  One needs to adjust the consistency of the dosa batter. Also the more the batter is fermented the more good dosa is. So prepare idli on day 1 and make dosa the following day. 

Dosa from this Ragi batter comes out very crispy and I like to use ghee instead of oil for shallow frying this. Check out the below image on how crispy the dosa is.

Ragi Dosa using Fermented Batter from Whole Ragi Seeds presented along with sambhar

I have tried to explain and clear as many doubts as I can have but if you all still have some more let me know in the comments below and I would try to answer my best.

Here goes the recipe of Ragi Idli using whole Ragi seeds (Finger Millet or Nachni)

Fermented Ragi Idli are healthy, steamed vegan & gluten free breakfast/meal made using nutritious whole Ragi seeds also known as Finger Millet or Nachni.

Ragi Idli using whole Ragi seeds (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Ragi Idli using whole Ragi are steamed vegan & gluten free breakfast/meal made using nutritious whole Ragi seeds also known as Finger Millet or Nachni.
4.91 from 22 votes
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Course: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian
Keyword: Gluten Free, Legumes / Beans / Pulses, Millet, Steamed, Vegan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Soaking & Fermentation Time: 16 hours
Author: Renu Agrawal-Dongre


  • 1 Cup Whole Ragi
  • ½ Cup Idli Rice
  • ½ Cup Urad Dal (Split or Whole White)
  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Dana)
  • Oil for greasing the idli molds.


Preparing the Batter:

  • In a bowl add all Ragi, Idli Rice, Urad dal, and Fenugreek Seeds.
    Whole Ragi seeds, Rice, Urad Dal and Fenugreek Seeds taken in a bowl
  • Clean and rinse it thoroughly using clean tap water 3-4 times.
  • Let this soak for a minimum of 3-4 hours.
    Ragi seeds, Rice, Urad Dal and Fenugreek Seeds soaked in water
  • Once soaked, drain the water and give it a quick rinse again.
    The Soaked Ragi, Rice, Urad Dal and Fenugreek Seeds
  • Now grind the batter into a smooth consistency.
    Ragi Idli Dosa Batter
  • For tips on how to grind the batter and ferment the batter in cold climate check out my detailed post on Fermenting Idli Dosa Batter in Cold Climate
  • Add salt and let the batter ferment overnight or for a minimum of 8-12 hours depending on climate.

Preparing The Idli’s

  • Check the consistency of the batter. For Idli, the batter should not be runny and be a bit thick. Like dropping consistency.
  • In a large pot or your idli steamer add 2-3 glasses of water.
  • Just enough that it would be able to boil for 10-15 minutes without completing evaporating or burning the vessel from the bottom.
  • Switch on the stove and allow the water to boil.
  • In the meantime, grease the idli mold with a bit of oil. A drop of oil per mold is sufficient.
  • Pour the batter into the molds. Around 2-3 tablespoons per mold. Do not overfill the mold.
    Ragi batter poured in Idli mold and ready to be steamed
  • Once the water is boiled we are ready to steam the idlis.
  • Put the Idli stand in the steamer and let the idli’s steam for a minimum of 15 minutes or until a knife or a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • After 15 minutes remove the idlis from the steamer.
    Ragi idli just out of the steamer
  • Let the idli’s cool for a minute or two before demolding. Do not rush or else it sticks on the mold. You would be able to remove the idlis nice and clean if you allow it to rest for 1-2 minutes.
  • Use a spoon to remove the idli
  • Serve it with Chutney, podi, and Sambar.


  • 1 Cup = 235 ml, 1 tbsp= 15 ml, 1 tsp = 5 ml
  • If you do not have idli mold you can make it in small bowls or individual muffin cups.
  • The same batter can be used to make dosa.
  • Only you need to adjust the consistency of the batter. The dosa will taste best the next day, i.e. with 1 more day of fermented batter.
  • The batter will stay good in the fridge for 4-7 days depending on the climate.
Tried this recipe?Share your feedback @cookwithrenu_ad or tag #cookwithrenu_ad
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. The nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. It varies depending upon the product types or brands.

Fermented Ragi Idli are healthy, steamed vegan & gluten free breakfast/meal made using nutritious whole Ragi seeds also known as Finger Millet or Nachni.

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Recipe Rating


Saturday 12th of August 2023

can we use parboiled ragi fof idli, i recieved parboiled ragi when j odered online .

Renu Agrawal Dongre

Saturday 12th of August 2023

Yes it should work. I have never used though.


Wednesday 30th of March 2022

My ragi dosa batter came out very grainy - how can I fix it Please guide me I soaked for 20 hours and used ninja blender for half an hour

Renu Agrawal Dongre

Wednesday 30th of March 2022

Soaking for 20 hours is not necessary. 3-4 hours or at the max overnight is fine. The Ragi would be on the grainy side as you can see in the picture of half idli. I have also included the batter picture which shows that you have ragi grains in between. This is when we use the Indian mixer grinder or ninja blender. But the dal and rice should grind properly. No issues with that. If that has not been ground properly, then I believe the blender is not working properly.

On other thoughts, have you used the same brand ragi seeds ever that you are using for the batter? Did you try to use them in any recipe? Are they old? If they are old that could also be one of the reasons.

Shruti M

Thursday 17th of June 2021

Hi thank you sooo much for this recipe I followed it completely and I had such beautifully fermented batter just as your video. Also the idli is fluffy and beautiful! Thank you so much I’m thrilled this is the first time I’m making any idli/dosa batter by myself. I felt motivated by your recipe and gave it a try. Infact we had bought whole ragi grains by mistake and I’m so glad we made that mistake so I landed on your page for help haha! Thank you !

Renu Agrawal Dongre

Thursday 17th of June 2021

I am so glad that you liked it and enjoyed it and were able to ferment the batter too. Sometimes mistakes are good :-). Would you also mind giving a rating to the recipe, it helps other readers as well as my blog. Thank You

Ranjana Chandak

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

I made this recipe. The idlis & disa turned out so well. Thank you dear for sharing

Renu Agrawal Dongre

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

Thank You so much for your feedback. Glad you liked it. It would be good if you can even rate the recipe. Thanks a mil.


Friday 29th of January 2021

Loved the healthy batter recipe. The Idlis turned out airy and spongy! For Dosa batter, I did a trial and added 1/4 cup raw rice and 1/4 cup poha for crispy texture..

Renu Agrawal Dongre

Friday 29th of January 2021

That's good. I just use the same batter. I generally use ghee for Dosa, and do cook on Cast Iron pan. So it makes it crispier.