Rava Idli

Rava Idli are savory steamed cakes made with semolina, veggies and spices. This quick idli recipe needs no fermentation and is best enjoyed with sambar and chutney!
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Rava Idli are savory steamed cakes made with semolina, veggies and spices. This is a popular breakfast item and often served with a bowl of sambar and coconut chutney. It’s quick, easy and needs no fermentation unlike the traditional idli. This recipe makes soft, light and fluffy rava idli for a delicious meal!

5 pieces of rava idli arranged in a plate with a bowl of sambar in the background

Idli is one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast and lunch. For those who don’t know, traditional idli is a steamed savory cake made with fermented rice and lentil batter. I have a detailed post on how to make that batter (which also works well for dosa).

Making traditional idli needs some planning, you need to soak the rice and lentil for 5 to 6 hours, then grind it and then let it ferment. So if you want to eat tomorrow for breakfast, you will have to start the soaking process today noon. Fermentation time can vary widely depending on the weather conditions.

So on days, when I am craving for idli but don’t have the batter ready, I make these instant rava idli. They need no fermentation and are a great way to satisfy your idli craving!

About Rava Idli

Rava idli or sooji idli is instant idli made with rava/sooji (semolina). This idli needs no fermentation and the batter gets the rise from the use of eno (fruit salt). The interaction between eno and yogurt leavens the batter.

Semolina is roasted with seasonings like curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger and then mixed with yogurt and eno. Veggies like carrots, peas are also often added to it.

Once the batter is ready, it is then steamed and served with sambar and chutneys. Unlike the traditional idli, you can enjoy a plate of rava idli in less than an hour!

Ingredients

ingredients for rava idli arranged on a board

Rava/Sooji: semolina is the main ingredient for these idlis, I have used regular rava which I use to make upma for this recipe. Fine rava will work fine as well.

Spices and seasonings: the idli is seasoned and flavored with ginger, curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing, chana dal.

Veggies: for this rava idli recipe, I have used grated carrots but you can also add onion, peas, beetroot.

ENO: aka fruit salt is the leavening agent that’s used in the recipe. You need plain eno for this recipe and you can find it at Indian grocery stores.

How to Make Rava Idli

1- Heat 2 tablespoons oil or ghee in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 12 raw cashews and fry them until they turn golden in color. Then remove them from the pan onto a plate.

2- To the same pan now add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds and 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds. Let the mustard seeds pop and cumin seeds sizzle. Then add:

  • generous pinch of hing
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1 chopped green chili

3- Sauté 30 seconds, then add 1 teaspoon chana dal. Sauté 30 to 40 seconds and then add around 12 curry leaves.

4- Stir and add 1 cup rava/sooji. Mix well so that all the spices are well combined with the rava.

step by step picture collage of making rava idli

5- Stirring continuously, roast the rava for 5 to 6 minutes until the raw smell goes away and it’s well roasted. Be careful that the rava doesn’t burn so stir constantly while doing so. You can skip this step of roasting if using pre-roasted rava.

6- Remove pan from heat and transfer the roasted rava to a large bowl. Let it cool down. Once it has cooled down, add the following:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated carrots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

7- Then add 3/4 cup plain yogurt and stir.

8- Add around 1/2 cup water and whisk to make a smooth batter.

step by step picture collage of making rava idli

9- The consistency of the batter should be like idli batter, not super thick and not thin either.

10- At this point, cover the bowl with a plate and let it rest for 20 minutes.

11- After 20 minutes, remove the plate. The rava would have absorbed the water and become quite thick. Add 3 to 5 tablespoons more water at this point to make a smooth batter. Meanwhile, add 2 to 3 cups in your steamer and put the water to boil. Also grease your idli plates with oil.

12- Add 1 teaspoon ENO (fruit salt).

step by step picture collage of making rava idli

13- Mix well, you will notice the batter becomes light as soon as you add the eno. You have to steam the batter immediately after adding the eno, so have everything ready (greased idli plates, steamer ready to go) before you add eno.

14- Place 1 fried cashew in each compartment of the idli plates. Now, fill each of them with the prepared batter. Don’t overfill too much as the batter expands during steaming.

15- Place the idli plates in the steamer. Cover and steam on high heat for 10 to 12 minutes.

16- You will know the idlis are done when you insert a knife in one of the idlis and it comes out clean. Remove plates from the steamer, let them sit for 5 minutes and then carefully remove from plates. I like to slide a silicone spatula or one of those cake spatulas underneath to take them put. Enjoy with sambar and chutney!

step by step picture collage of making rava idli

Serving Suggestions

  • Sambar: the classic sambar, a lentil stew made with veggies goes really well with this rava idli.
  • Coconut chutney: another perfect accompaniment is the coconut chutney made with coconut, ginger and tempered with curry leaves. The cilantro coconut chutney is another version of it with cilantro.
  • Vegetable Korma: I love eating this rava idli with veg korma which is a curry made with lots of veggies, coconut and spices.
  • Tomato chutney: this is yet another chutney which goes will with idlis. The chutney is made with tomatoes, garlic, red chilies.

Using Baking Soda

If you don’t have eno and you want to use baking soda, use 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 1/4 teaspoon citric acid (or 1/2 tablespoon lime juice).

Add it at the end and steam immediately.

idlis with sambar and chutney in a thali

Steaming in Instant Pot

If you want to steam the idlis in instant pot, add 2 cups water to the steel pot of your Instant Pot and press the sauté button. Once the water starts simmering, place the idli stand inside.

Close the lid and and press the steam button. Set the pressure valve in venting position and steam for 12 to 13 minutes. You will have to use an external timer since Instant Pot doesn’t count the time when the pressure valve is in the venting position.

Tips & Notes

  • You can roast the rava in advance and keep it an airtight container. This way you don’t have to do the step of roasting the rava with the seasonings. Just, add the roasted rava, mix with everything and remove in a bowl.
  • For busy morning, you can save time by making the entire mix beforehand and keep it in an airtight container. Roast the rava with the seasonings and spices and let it cool down. Then store in a glass container. When ready to use, just add the yogurt, water, let it rest then add eno and steam.
  • Roast the rava well and evenly and stir continuously while doing it so that the rava doesn’t burn. Roast on medium heat.
  • Steam the batter immediately after adding Eno, if you want the idlis won’t turn out soft and fluffy. For best results, the idlis have to be steamed immediately. So have the steamer ready to go and idli plates greased with oil before adding eno to the batter.
  • Don’t try and remove the idlis from the plates immediately after steaming. Leave them for few minutes until they cool down a little and then remove carefully using a spatula. They break easily if you try to remove them when they are too hot.
  • Grease your idli plates well so that the idlis come out easily after they are steamed.
2 plates of rava idli with a bowl of coconut chutney and bowl of sambar in the background

This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in February 2016.

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Rava Idli

5 pieces of rava idli arranged in a plate with a bowl of sambar in the background
Manali
Rava Idli are savory steamed cakes made with semolina, veggies and spices. This quick idli recipe needs no fermentation and is best enjoyed with sambar and chutney!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Resting Time 20 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Indian
Servings 10 idli
Calories 109 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or you can use oil
  • 12 whole cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • pinch hing asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chili
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 cup rava/sooji semolina, 178 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated carrots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 cup yogurt I used plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water + 3-5 tablespoons, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Eno fruit salt

Instructions
 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil or ghee in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 12 raw cashews and fry them until they turn golden in color. Then remove them from the pan onto a plate.
  • To the same pan now add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Let the mustard seeds pop and cumin seeds sizzle. Then add generous pinch of hing, chopped ginger and chopped green chili.
  • Sauté 30 seconds, then add chana dal. Sauté 30 to 40 seconds and then add the curry leaves. Stir and add 1 cup rava/sooji. Mix well so that all the spices are well combined with the rava.
  • Stirring continuously, roast the rava for 5 to 6 minutes until the raw smell goes away and it's well roasted. Be careful that the rava doesn't burn so stir constantly while doing so. You can skip this step of roasting if using pre-roasted rava.
  • Remove pan from heat and transfer the roasted rava to a large bowl. Let it cool down. Once it has cooled down, add the following: 1/2 teaspoon salt, grated carrots and chopped cilantro.
  • Then add plain yogurt and stir. Add around 1/2 cup water and whisk to make a smooth batter.
  • The consistency of the batter should be like idli batter, not super thick and not thin either. At this point, cover the bowl with a plate and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, remove the plate. The rava would have absorbed the water and become quite thick. Add 3 to 5 tablespoons more water at this point to make a smooth batter. Meanwhile, add 2 to 3 cups in your steamer and put the water to boil. Also grease your idli plates with oil.
  • Add in 1 teaspoon eno (fruit salt). Mix well, you will notice the batter becomes light as soon as you add the eno. You have to steam the batter immediately after adding the eno, so have everything ready (greased idli plates, steamer ready to go) before you add eno.
  • Place 1 fried cashew in each compartment of the idli plates. Now, fill each of them with the prepared batter. Don't overfill too much as the batter expands during steaming.
  • Place the idli plates in the steamer. Cover and steam on high heat for 10 to 12 minutes. You will know the idlis are done when you insert a knife in one of the idlis and it comes out clean.
  • Remove plates from the steamer, let them sit for 5 minutes and then carefully remove from plates. I like to slide a silicone spatula or one of those cake spatulas underneath to take them put. Enjoy with sambar and chutney!

Video

Notes

  • You can roast the rava in advance and keep it an airtight container. This way you don’t have to do the step of roasting the rava with the seasonings. Just, add the roasted rava, mix with everything and remove in a bowl.
  • For busy morning, you can save time by making the entire mix beforehand and keep it in an airtight container. Roast the rava with the seasonings and spices and let it cool down. Then store in a glass container. When ready to use, just add the yogurt, water, let it rest then add eno and steam.
  • Roast the rava well and evenly and stir continuously while doing it so that the rava doesn’t burn. Roast on medium heat.
  • Steam the batter immediately after adding Eno, if you want the idlis won’t turn out soft and fluffy. For best results, the idlis have to be steamed immediately. So have the steamer ready to go and idli plates greased with oil before adding eno to the batter.
  • Don’t try and remove the idlis from the plates immediately after steaming. Leave them for few minutes until they cool down a little and then remove carefully using a spatula. They break easily if you try to remove them when they are too hot.
  • Grease your idli plates well so that the idlis come out easily after they are steamed.

Nutrition

Calories: 109kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 3gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 128mgPotassium: 85mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 569IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 32mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookwithmanali or tag #cookwithmanali!

26 thoughts on “Rava Idli

  1. I had never before heard about idli, but it sound delicious! I will have to try it (first I will have to look for the ingredients here -_-). I agree with you, breakfast is the best meal of the whole day!

  2. I’m the exact same way on Mondays, it feels like a fresh start to me. These little cakes look delicious and like a perfect breakfast for Monday 🙂

  3. I despise Mondays, hahaha! I enjoy my lazy weekends so much that Monday depresses me. But then I go into the kitchen to bake and all is well within my soul once again. I should probably start my Mondays with this idli. I bet I bet it’s cheer me right up. It looks delicious and I bet it would cheer me right up!

  4. I’m with ya, Manali. I feel charged and ready to go on Mondays…just like I feel tired (but excited) by Friday afternoon. I’m a creature of habit for sure, and I think I need to make these idli a habit. They sound delicious!

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