Well well well, aren’t we getting adventurous? These Swanky Little Millet Idlis have no rice at all, not that we don’t love rice, but if you were looking for ways to eat more millets (aren’t we all?) I can’t say enough about సామలు known in English as Little Millet and in Punjabi as Swank. Yes, Swank. So here are the names in various languages – check if your store has them so that you can get your swank on!
Hindi: Kutki, Shavan | Gujarati: Gajro, Kuri| Kannada: Same, Save
Marathi: Sava, Halvi, Vari | Oriya: Suan
Punjabi: Swank | Tamil: Samai | Telugu: Samalu
The idlis are very easy to prepare. Note that the grey color comes from the chilka (peel) of the urad and not from the millet which is an off-white or beige color. You can use the same batter to make dosas or uttappams. Dosas or idlis made with whole grain urad or urad dal will be grey in color.
2 cups సామలు – little millet
1 cup మినువులు or మినపప్పు – urad or urad dal (black gram – split or whole, with peel intact)
Salt to taste.
Instructions: Soak for 8 hours, add salt, grind, let rise for 8 hours or overnight, pour into idli plates and steam for 20 minutes on the stove or in a rice cooker.
And here are the pictures:
Step 1: Soak 1 part మినువులు (urad) and 2 parts సామలు (little millet). Wash grains prior to soaking so that you can use some of the soaking water while grinding.
When the urad soaks it will burst through its skin. If you use urad dal the skin will separate. Do not drain it off. Use a sieve when washing the dal so as to retain the skin. Better yet wash the dal prior to soaking so that you need not wash it afterwards. The soaking water contains some of the nutrients from the bean plus those newly glamorous oligosaccharides also known as prebiotics – those things that help your body make helpful bacteria also known as probiotics.
Here is what the soaked millet and soaked urad look like:
Step 2: Grind the soaked millet and urad in a stone grinder, mixie or wet grinder. Add the salt and enough water to make a smooth batter. Below are pictures of the batter as it becomes smoother.
Note: In a stone grinder you gradually add the soaked grains and water and keep rotating the stone until it fluffs up. Takes some muscle but it is mesmerizing. In a mixie you will need to grind a cup or two at a time, for 1-2 minutes each until you are done grinding all the soaked grains. In a wet grinder you can gradually add all of the soaked grains as it grinds, and then let it continue grinding for 20 minutes. You don’t have to watch, but it is kind of mesmerizing:
Step 3: Sleep. Yes! As you sleep the batter will rise. In 8 hours in a warm room it will double in bulk. Longer than that and it may become very spongy and somewhat sour but still good. If it is not very warm it may take 12 hours to rise but if it is cold then it may take up to 24 hours. Rather than wait for 24 hours, I prefer to keep the batter in a closed space like a box, cabinet or oven and put a pot of hot water nearby to keep the area warm.
Step 4: Pour batter into idli plates:
So I hope you understand that I am calling these swanky in jest. Like so many millets and traditional foods, they are still grown in the remote rural areas, especially in forest and hillside villages and there they are actually inexpensive or free … in fact people are starting to forget them in favour of this fluffy white thing called polished rice and all manner of packaged powders and biscuits. In the cities it can be difficult to find many varieties of millets in the provision stores, but do ask, and encourage your local grocer to supply all kinds of millets.
You can even show them this handy publication on Millets from the Deccan Development Society.
And don’t forget to serve millet idlis at your next party. You can always smile if people call them swanky 🙂