Jain Coriander-Scented Millet and Mung Bean Pilaf with Homemade Ghee

Otherwise known as Ahmadabad Jain Pullao, this wonderful recipe comes from Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian and Vegetarian Grain Cooking. I’ve been delving into this book lately, and finding that Indian cooking has a lot to do with different dairy preparation techniques. Yogurt is a complete main-stay, as is ghee….


To make 3/4 cup usli ghee, use 1/2 lb. butter. Place in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat until the butter melts completely. Stir often. Increase the heat to medium-low and simmer the butter until it stops crackling, thus indicating that all the moisture has evaporated and the milk residue is beginning to fry. As soon as the solids turn brown (10-12 minutes), remove from heat. Let the residue settle to the bottom of the pan, then strain the clear butterfat into another container. This is usli ghee. Well-covered, it will keep at room temperature for several months.

What chemistry, hey! It has a wonderful taste… a cousin of roux… creamy, nutty and toasty. It’s a very distinct flavour that I’ve noticed in Indian food before, and it was great to confirm that Yes, that is the ghee flavour.


This is a traditional dish of the Jain people of Ahmadabad in western India. It is delightfully toothsome. All the ingredients keep their shape, which made me feel very much like I was eating real food. Then again I have always been a millet fanatic. I use millet flour in my baking a lot, but this is the first recipe I’ve made with whole millet that has been honestly satisfying to me.

Hello, I'm delicious. Nice to meet you.
  • 1/2 cup whole mung beans (sabat moong)
  • 1 cup whole millet
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 tbsp. usli ghee (see above), or light vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 hot green chilis, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-1/2 tsp. coarse salt, or to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1-1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 4 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced

1. Soak the mung beans overnight, or place them in a saucepan with water, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let sit for one hour.

2. Place the millet, bay leaves, and 2 tbsp. ghee in a large pan (a 5 quart saute pan with a cover is good) over high heat for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and fry the millet, stirring, for 5 minutes or until it is light golden. Put the cooked millet in a bowl and set aside.

3. Add the remaining 4 tbsp. of ghee to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. When the ghee is very hot, add the mustard and cumin seeds. Keep the pot lid handy, as the seeds may spatter. When the spattering subsides, add the onions, chilies, and ginger and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until the onions are lightly browned. Add the ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Mix well and continue frying for another minute.

4. Add the reserved millet, the drained mung beans, the lemon juice, and the salt, and mix thoroughly. Add 1-1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 30 minutes or until the beans and millet are cooked but are still firm to the bite.

5. Transfer the mixture to a heated serving platter, sprinkle with garam masala and with chopped coriander. Serve garnished with slices of cucumber and tomato.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. This does sound good! Nice photo!


  2. Iep says:

    I’m making it right now and it seems to work out fine (The ghee smells good). BUT: The millet stays pretty hard while the mungbeans are already done. What should I do?

    1. Hi,

      My apologies. My sister posted this recipe and I have not made it myself. I do know that cooking times for grains and beans can vary depending on how old they are, which makes dishes like this that combine them tricky.

      If you have already cooked it for half an hour but the millet is still hard, add a bit more liquid and cook it for another 10 or 15 minutes. Also, grains like to left off the heat with the lid on after cooking for about 15 minutes, as it give the grains additional time to steam. Basically, it is important to leave the lid on when cooking grain or you let all the steam out. Good luck!


  3. Iep says:

    Thanks! i did experiment with that (adding hot water, cooking and leaving it for a while) and it worked out fine. Fir future attempts to make this I would suggest not to add the mung beans until one is sure that the millet and mung beans both have the right texture. Otherwise one of the both could get overcooked, which would be a pity 🙂 Thanks for sharing your recipe’s, it’s very inspiring!

    1. Thanks for letting us know how it turned out and also for the suggestion!

  4. J Qwest says:

    um… jains dont eat onions

  5. That’s true! I think that this is probably an adaptation of a Jain dish that the author made intended for a wider audience. It is very tasty as written, but would probably still be good without onions or with a bit of aestofetida instead of the onion.

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