Varagu Arisi Pidi Kozhakattai – Kodo Millet rice cakes

Pidi kozhakattais are steamed cakes made with rice, vegetables, mustard and chillies. I go nostalgic whenever I eat them for my earliest memory reminds me of my grandmom and what a fine cook she was. I shot this recipe in a beautiful setting where the Trichy’s iconic malai kottai was behind me and I was surrounded by The River Cauvery and Srirangam Temple. I’ve traveled a lot of cities/ towns/villages to explore, research and document South Indian food. In case you’ve missed reading it here’s the Chettinad food trail.

For those of you who understand tamil,  watch the clip on how to make it:

This is a quick and easy to make recipe. Here’s how you make it.

Things needed:

  • Varagu arisi (kodo millet) – 1 cup
  • Vegetables of your choice – 1 cup finely chopped
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Salt – to taste
  • Hing/ asafoetida – a pinch
  • Urad dhal – 1 tbsp
  • Channa dhal – 1 tbsp
  • Dry Red chillies – 3-4 nos
  • Oil – 2tbsp
  • Curry leaves – 8-10
  • Grated coconut- 1/2 cup (optional)

1. Wash the millets in water and let it dry
2. Heat oil in a pan, and once hot and not smoking, add mustard, urad dhal, channa dhal, red chillies, curry leaves and hing
3. Add vegetables of your choice. (Preferable carrots, beans, beets, peas)
4. Sauté until vegetables are slightly tender but not overcooked.
5. To this add the millets of your choice and add 2 cups of water
6. Keep cooking until the millets slightly puff up and water is dry.
7. Switch off flame and add the coconut. This gives a different texture to the kozhakattais. Mix well
8. Once it cools down, apply oil in to your palm, make medium size balls and shape them in an oval shape.
9. Use an idly steamer or any steamer that you use to steam these balls until they are cooked
10. You’ll see a visible change in the way the millets look once steamed. They will be a lot more fluffier and softer.


  • I used coconut oil to shape these millet balls as it gives a beautiful flavour
  • You could substitute vegetables with greens like spinach and other varieties.
  • Instead of making kozhakattais you can make an upma by adding three cups of water  and keep cooking until dry/ millets fluff up.

About Author

The musings of two Chennaiites seeking to discover the world through food and travel. As they open themselves up to adventure, the accompanying puliyogare, travels well and ensures that the idea of home is never lost


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