Rava Idli, How to make Rava Idli


This Rava Idli Recipe gives you an incredibly light, fluffy, soft and tasty rava idli.

A single Rava Idli dipped partly in a bowl of coriander chutney (cilantro dip) on a white marble backdrop

Rava Idli is a soft, pillowy steamed savory cake made from rava or cream of wheat batter that makes for a satisfying and healthy breakfast.

How is Rava Idli Made

Rava Idli is a popular variation of the traditional South Indian Idli made with fermented rice and lentil batter. Rava, also known as suji in Hindi and cream of wheat or semolina in English, is simply granulated wheat.

It is made with mixing ghee roasted rava (sooji or cream of wheat) with curd (yogurt), spices, herbs, cashews, water and a leavening agent like baking soda or eno (fruit salt) to make a nice batter of medium consistency.

The reaction of alkaline eno or baking soda with the acidity of the yogurt helps in leavening the batter thereby giving it a soft and fluffy texture. This flavorful batter is then steamed in an idli maker to make fluffy, pillowy cakes.

Why this Instant Rava Idli Recipe Works

Traditionally, idli is made from rice and lentils, which involves soaking the rice and lentils for 4 to 5 hours as well as grinding the lentils and then fermenting the batter.

As this recipe uses rava (cream of wheat), yogurt and a leavening agent instead, we do not need all that soaking or grinding time, thus making this an instant recipe.

For that reason, I make rava idli when we want some quick and easy breakfast or snack. The rava idli batter gets made within minutes and then, as the idli is steaming, I prepare the coconut chutney, which is the traditional dip to serve with idli.

Rava Idli arranged in a circular way on a white plate kept on a white marble backdrop with two chutney (dips) placed above the plate.

About this Rava Idli Recipe

Being an Idli and Dosa lover, I never say no to the different idli varieties out there. For this instant rava idli recipe, I have found the perfect combination of ingredients to make these savory cakes soft, moist, fluffy and delicious.

  • Leavening Agent: 1 teaspoon of eno (fruit salt) is perfect for the amount of rava and curd used in the recipe and helps the idli to be soft, fluffy without the soapy aroma. If you use baking soda, then add ¼ teaspoon (2 to 3 pinches) of it in the batter. The spices and herbs also add a lot of flavorings of their own in the recipe.
  • Veggies: I have also added some grated carrots to the batter which you can skip. You can even add steamed green peas. Just boil the peas beforehand and also grate the veggies ahead of time so they are ready to add.
  • Curd (Yogurt): I have used fresh curd. You can use both fresh or sour curd to make the idli. Another variation of idli to check out is Idli made with Rice Rava where cream of rice is used instead of cream of wheat.
  • Idli Pan: You will need an idli pan to make these steamed cakes. Idli pans are made to fit perfectly into a pressure cooker or steamer. If you can’t find an idli maker where you typically buy your kitchen equipment, you can always order one online at amazon.com.
  • Serving Suggestions:
    • Coconut Chutney: Rava idli tastes amazing served with coconut chutney. I have served rava idli with a coriander leaves coconut chutney.
    • Sambar: Rava Idli also tastes good with Sambar – a vegetable stew cooked with dal, veggies and tamarind.
    • Potato Sagu: Both rava idli and potato sagu is a great combination.Potato sagu is a lightly spiced potato curry from the Karnataka cuisine.
    • Idli Podi:  Idli podi makes for a good side with rava idli. Idli Podi is a dry powder made with lentils and red chilies and has a spicy, earthy flavor along with a somewhat crunchy texture. Sesame oil or ghee is then mixed with the idli podi to make a delicious paste to dip the idli in.

FAQ for Rava Idli

I have compiled below some frequently asked questions from readers on this rava idli recipe.

  1. Which type of rava to use?
    Use the finer variety of rava and not the coarser or bigger ones. You can use bombay rava or chiroti rava.
  2. Why is rava idli hard?
    Eno or baking soda should be fresh and within their shelf period. If they are not fresh or active, they won’t leaven the batter resulting in hard rava idli. Again, as soon as you mix eno, you have to steam the batter immediately – if you keep the batter resting the rava idli will not become fluffy.
  3. Can I make rava idli with rice rava?
    I have never made this recipe with rice rava, but you can try.
  4. Do I need to roast the rava?
    Yes absolutely. Roasting rava coats the fine rava grains with ghee and this helps in making the idli have a light texture without being sticky or gluey.
  5. Can I make rava idli with buttermilk instead of curd?
    Yes. You can make the rava idli with buttermilk. But add as much of it till you get a medium consistency batter.
  6. Can I skip eno or baking soda?
    You can skip them, but the rava idli won’t have a fluffy texture. They will be soft though with a slight denseness in the texture.
  7. Can i keep the batter in the fridge overnight and make rava idli next morning?
    Yes you can. But add eno or baking soda just before steaming them. The batter will also thicken, so add a few tablespoons of water and mix well before steaming.
  8. Can baking powder be used instead of baking soda or fruit salt?
    No. Baking powder cannot be substituted with baking soda or fruit salt. You will need to add more quantity of baking powder which will give a metallic and bitter taste to the dish.
  9. I do not have an idli maker so what is the alternative for steaming?
    You can use a pan or bowl for the batter and steam. Once steamed well, then slice in wedges or cubes.
  10. Why rava idli has become crumbly?
    Adding more eno or baking soda than what is mentioned in the recipe will give a crumbly texture.
  11. Why rava idli has become sticky?
    Not roasting the rava well and too much water can make them sticky.
  12. Why is rava idli dry?
    Less water and prolonged steaming will give a dry and denser texture to the rava idli.

How to make Rava Idli

1. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a pan. Keep the heat to low or medium-low. Add 14 halved cashews.

cashews in ghee in pan

2. Stirring often fry the cashews till golden. Remove with a slotted spoon draining the ghee and keep aside. Reduce the heat to low or medium-low.

frying cashews in ghee in pan

3. To the same pan add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds. Let the mustard seeds begin to splutter.

mustard seeds added to pan

4. When the mustard seeds begin to splutter add 1 teaspoon chana dal (husked and split bengal gram).

chana dal added to pan

5. Stirring often fry chana dal till they look golden and crunchy. Then add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and fry for 4 to 5 seconds.

cumin seeds added to pan

6. Now add 10 to 12 curry leaves (chopped), 1 pinch asafoetida (hing), 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger and 1 green chilli (finely chopped).

curry leaves ginger green chillies added to pan

7. Mix well and fry for about 10 seconds. Keep the heat to a low.

mixing the mixture

8. Now add 1 cup rava (finer variety of cream of wheat, sooji, semolina).

rava added to pan

9. Mix the rava very well with the ghee and other ingredients.

mix rava with ghee

10. Roast rava till it become aromatic, changes color a bit (but should not get browned or golden) and the grains look separate. Keep on stirring often when roasting rava. Roasting rava will takes about 7 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness and heaviness of the pan and the flame intensity. Once the rava is well roasted, keep the pan aside. Let the rava become warm.

roasting rava in the pan

11. To the roasted rava, add 2 tablespoons finely grated carrots, 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves and ½ teaspoon salt or add as required. If adding any other grated veggies or steamed peas then add them at this step.

carrots and coriander leaves added to rava mixture

12. Next add ½ cup curd (yogurt) and ½ to ¾ cup water. Depending on the quality of rava and the thickness of curd, you can adjust the water. If the curd is liquid and has whey in it, then add ½ cup water. If the curd is very thick, then add ¾ cup water. Basically you need to get a medium consistency batter.

curd and water added to rava mixture

13. Mix very well and let the batter rest covered for 20 minutes. The rava idli batter is neither thick nor thin in consistency and has a medium consistency.

rava idli batter in a pan

14. Brush oil or ghee on the idli pan moulds. Place a fried halved cashew in the center of the moulds.

greased idli pan moulds with cashews

15. Before you add eno or baking soda to the batter, take 2 to 2.5 cups water in a pot. Keep a small length trivet stand or a rack in the pot. Heat the water till it comes to a boil.

heating water in a pot

16. After 20 minutes this is the consistency of the batter after resting. If in case the batter looks thick, then add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to get a medium consistency. Rava absorbs water and so the batter might thicken after 20 minutes. If the curd is thick, then also you may need to add more water. If you have added more water in the beginning, you do not need to add any water at this step.

rava idli batter

17. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon eno or ¼ teaspoon baking soda evenly over the batter. I have used eno.

eno added to rava idli batter

18. Quickly mix very well.

rava idli batter

19. Pour the batter in the idli moulds.

rava idli batter added to idli moulds

20. Stack the each idli plate and place them in the pot with the hot water. Cover with a lid and steam rava idli for 10 to 12 minutes.

steaming rava idli

21. I have used the Instant Pot for steaming and had set the time for 10 minutes (check notes section in recipe card on finer details for steaming in the IP as well as pressure cooker and pan). Keep a stop-watch or timer to check the time as Instant Pot does not beep in the steaming mode after the steaming time is over. It will continue to steam further. You can even steam rava idli in an electric cooker, pan or pressure cooker for 10 to 12 minutes.

steaming rava idli in instant pot

22. To check the doneness, a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the rava idli should come out clean. Remove the idli plates carefully and let them rest for 3 to 4 minutes. Then with a spoon remove the rava idli.

steamed rava idli in idli moulds

23. Serve the steaming hot Rava Idli with idli sambar and your favorite coconut chutney.

Rava Idli dipped in a white bowl having cilantro chutney placed on a white marble backdrop

More Indian breakfast recipes

This recipe post from the archives (November 2013) has been republished and updated on 9 June 2020.

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Rava Idli are quick, instant easy idli variety made with sooji or semolina. These sooji idli requires no grinding and fermentation.

Prep Time 35 mins

Cook Time 12 mins

Total Time 47 mins

Cuisine South Indian

Course: Breakfast, Brunch

Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 10 rava idli


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