Ask Amma

Teff Idli and Dosa!

In Recipes on 13 February 2016 at 3:11 am

Sometimes our millet dosas remind us of injera, a traditional Ethiopian dish we ate a few years ago when visiting friends in Boston.  Khiyali and her friends enjoyed chanting, “eat the plate!  eat the plate!”   The injera was the edible plate on which the various toppings were served.  After tearing off pieces of injera and scooping up the steamed and stir-fried vegetables, the rest of the plate, which had absorbed some of the flavors from the toppings, was fun to eat up all by itself.

Out of curiosity I bought a bag of teff at David’s Natural Market when I was in Maryland but did not get around to finding out how to make anything with it.  By the time I left for India the bag was still unopened so I brought it along with me.  When I searched for recipes for injera it seemed I needed teff flour and not whole teff.  Of course this grain is so tiny it is almost like flour but anyway that gave me the free pass to try using it like all the other grains in my collection – to make dosas!  How different could they be?

Teff and Urad

Teff and Urad, ready to get soaked.

So I soaked the grains as usual, ground them and was happy to see the next morning that the batter had risen well.  Though I had only planned to make dosas I became bold (and lazy) and put on a dozen idlis.  (Only one dozen since this was a new experiment.)  Again, to my pleasant surprise they rose!  Not as much as other idlis, but still they rose (unlike, say, amaranth idlis).

Idlis made of teff and urad. The idlis rise and taste good, but the texture is on the dense side.

Idlis made of teff and urad.  While the texture is on the dense side, the idlis rise and taste good with the dip of your choice.

The dosas came out well.  Not as spongy as injera but good in their own right.

As usual, I oiled the griddle for the first 1-2 dosas and then stopped oiling it.  In the case of these dosas I found that the batter was easier to spread when I did not oil the griddle.  See how this one is a bit more round than the above:

Dosa made of teff and urad. As usual I used oil only for the first one. I thought the batter spread better when there was no oil!

Dosa made of teff and urad. As usual I used oil only for the first one. I thought the batter spread more easily when there was no oil!  Lightly oiling would also be fine.

Still curious to see whether teff would work for idlis I went ahead and soaked it again, this time with an equal part of proso millet.    Stay tuned.

Update: It worked! The idlis were lighter than those made with teff alone.
Proportions: 1 cup teff, 1 cup urad and 1 cup proso millet.

A closer look at teff.  The grain is tiny!

Teff in a cup.

Teff in a cup.

The Whole Grains Council says that teff is a reliable crop for farmers in various climates.

Teff also thrives in both waterlogged soils and during droughts, making it a dependable staple wherever it’s grown.

It is nutritious too!

Teff leads all the grains – by a wide margin – in its calcium content, with a cup of cooked teff offering 123 mg, about the same amount of calcium as in a half-cup of cooked spinach.

Visit The Whole Grains Council page for more details.

Idlis made of teff and urad.

Idlis made of teff and urad.

SO here is the recipe:


2 cups teff (whole) OR 1 cup teff and 1 cup proso millet
1 cup urad or urad dal (black gram, whole or split, with peel intact)
1⁄2 – 1 tsp salt (to taste)

Note: In lieu of proso millet, you may use little millet, kodo millet, or rice.   Just see that you have 2 cups of grain for 1 cup of beans.


Wash and soak teff and urad. (And any other grains used.)
After 8 hours or overnight, grind with enough water to make a smooth batter.
Allow to rise. In a warm humid environment, it will rise in 8 hours or overnight.
Add salt and stir thoroughly.
Steam in idli plates or make dosas as usual. You can also use this batter to make waffles.

For illustrated step-by-step instructions for making idli or dosa please see any of the following:

Ragi Idli and Dosa, Take 3
Whole Ragi Idli and Dosa Take 2
Ragi Idli and Dosa, Take 1
Bajra-Kodo Idli
Proso Millet Idli and Dosa
Kodo Millet Idli and Dosa
Swanky Little Millet Idli & Dosa
Whole -grain idli and dosa




  1. […] or rice.  To make dosas, just dilute the idli batter with a bit of water.   See, for example, teff dosa. Of course, first she had a lot of fun observing how the different grains soaked  – how […]


  2. Thankyou for your beautiful posts. Isn’t Teff flour same as Ragi that is available in South India? Can you please clarify what is proso millet.


    • Nice to hear from you Tasneem and thanks for your kind words. No, teff is not the same as ragi. There are many varieties of millet. I once collected 8 varieties and ground them all together along with rice and urad to make 10-grain idlis!

      Ragi is known as finger millet. Proso millet is another kind of millet. Teff is yet another grain, I don’t know if it is considered to be a variety of millet but I used it in a similar fashion.


  3. I tried this idli dough. . teff baga soft ga grind avutunda mixie lo, iurid and teff mix chesi soak cheya vachha? naku antaga soft ga teff nalagaledu. have to cook after fermentation.


    • మినువులు , టేప్ కలిపి నాన పొయ్యచ్చు, లేకపోతె విడిగా నాన పోసి కలిపి రుబ్బచ్చు
      టేఫ్ నాన పోస్తే మెత్తగానే నలిగిపోతుంది.
      కానీ నేను మిక్సీ లో చెయ్యలేదు, wet ginder లో రుబ్బాను
      రాసినందుకు చాలా thanks నేను మల్లి టేఫ్ కొనుక్కుని blender లా రుబ్బి చూస్తాను


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