Rava idli is a popular Breakfast food that originated in the Tiffin centers of Karnataka. It is a variation of the traditional Idli recipe but made with semolina, curd and some spices. Rava means semolina and idli are steamed cakes. Making rava idli is quick and easy since it is an instant recipe which needs no grinding and fermentation.
If you are new to South Indian foods, then read on to know more.
What is rava idli?
Rava idli are steamed cakes made with semolina, yogurt, spices, veggies & a leavening agent. These are eaten for breakfast with coconut chutney & potato sagu (recipe at the end of the post).
Traditionally idlis are made with soaked ground lentils & rice. The batter is then fermented and steamed in the shape of cakes. These rava idli are quick to make as it bypasses the entire task of soaking, grinding and then fermenting.
The batter is made by just tempering the ingredients & then mixing them up with yogurt. The leavener in the batter reacts with the yogurt or curd & cooks up to fluffy & airy steamed cakes.
The recipe shared here will give you delicious, soft & light rava idlis all without the flavor of curd or soapy taste of soda in it. If you have ever wondered how the rava idli from MTR tastes so delicious & good with a light texture then this recipe is a must try.
In this post I have also shared the recipe to make potato sagu that is usually served with the rava idli in hotels. You can find it after the recipe card at the end of this post.
1. Heat 2 tbsps ghee in a kadai. Fry 8 split cashews until golden. Remove to a plate and set aside.
2. To the same pan, add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, ½ tablespoon chana dal and 1 tablespoon chopped cashews. Saute until the dal turns golden.
3. Lower the heat. Then add 1 sprig chopped curry leaves, 2 chopped green chilies and ¾ teaspoon grated ginger. Saute for 30 seconds until the ginger smells good.
4. Immediately add 1 cup rava/ semolina and begin to mix well. On a low flame fry the rava until crunchy and lightly aromatic. Do not brown the rava.
5. Rava should be coated well with ghee. Cool this completely. You can also store the cooled rava idli mix in a jar for further use.
Preparing rava idli batter
6. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves and 1/3 teaspoon salt. Then pour ¾ cup fresh curd/ yogurt. I used homemade curd. Please make sure the curd doesn’t smell or taste sour. Otherwise the rava idli will have a smell of sour curd. Mix well.
7. Pour half cup water and mix.
8. Cover this and rest for 30 mins.
Preparing steamer & idli plates for rava idli
9. After 25 minutes, add few drops of ghee or oil to each idli plate/ mould. Grease the plates lightly and arrange a cashew on each mould. Sprinkle some grated carrots. Keep these aside.
10. Pour water to a cooker or steamer or pot or instant pot as you would do for regular idli.
To steam in Pot or cooker or steamer: I use 2.5 cups water in my pot. After 25 to 30 mins of soaking the rava, bring the water to a boil.
To steam in Instant pot: I pour 1.5 cups water and bring to a rolling boil on a saute mode. I also cover with a external lid to quicken the process.
11. After 30 mins of soaking, semolina absorbs some moisture and turns almost dry. The pour 1 to 3 tablespoons water as needed to bring the batter to a consistency. I used about 3 tablespoons but every time it varies by 1 to 2 tablespoons depending on the thickness of yogurt and the kind of rava.
12. Rava idli batter consistency should be thick and smooth as you see in the picture. When you drop the batter with the spoon it must be smooth on top and not lumpy. It should not be of pouring consistency either. It must be like idli batter. Check video to know the right consistency.
Steaming rava idli
13. Skip this step if using eno. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the batter and give a good mix. This will not make the rava idli sour. But is used to activate the soda.
14. When the water in the steamer is turning hot then add 1 teaspoon eno or ¼ teaspoon soda-bi-carbonate to the batter. Mix gently a few times to incorporate the soda into the batter.
15. Quickly pour this to the moulds. Do not let the batter rest after mixing eno/ soda. This recipe will give you 8 rava idli.
16. Place the idli stand in the steamer and steam for 10 minutes on a high flame. The water must be boiling and steaming well at all times. When done, a skewer inserted comes out clean or with little crumbs.
To steam in Instant pot: Once the water comes to a rolling boil, Place the idli stand in the instant pot. Press cancel. Secure the lid and position the steam release handle to venting. Steam for 11 to 12 mins.
17. Allow to cool down for about 3 to 4 mins. With the help of a moist spoon demould the rava idli.
Serve rava idli with coconut chutney or potato sagu. I have shared the recipe to make potato sagu below the recipe card.
Tips to make fluffy rava idli
1.Roasting semolina or rava on a low to medium flame until aromatic without changing the color, is the key to prevent them from turning sticky.
2.The right amount of curd and soda or eno are the key to making the best rava idli. The leavening agent makes them light & fluffy so do not skimp.
I have followed the same rule of using ¼ tsp soda or eno to 1 cup of flour, in this case it is 1 cup of rava. It doesn’t leave a soapy taste as ¾ cup of curd & 1 tsp lemon juice is used to activate the soda.
3.Do not reduce the amount of ghee or oil in the recipe as it is very important. With reduced amount of fats, they turn out sticky.
Can I skip roasting the rava?
There are different kinds of rava or semolina in the market. My mom makes these without roasting and they always turn out good. It depends on the kind of semolina.
She uses the chiroti rava which is a finer version of the regular semolina.
So the results will depend on the kind of rava used. To be on the safer side I always roast the semolina until it turns light.
Semolina or rava is a processed food so eating in moderation is good. Since I had lot of requests for a good rava idli recipe, I thought of sharing this. For a healthier version use fine whole wheat rava or red rava.
Rava idli is served with Coconut chutney and potato sagu (find the recipe below). We do not prefer the sagu much for this so we usually serve with coconut chutney and Idli sambar. Sometimes I make rava idli for dinner if I already have this regular sambar made for lunch.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
Tempering ingredients for rava idli
- 1 cup semolina or bombay rava or suji or chiroti rava
- 2 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cumin or jeera
- ½ tablespoon chana dal or bengal gram
- 1 tablespoon cashews chopped (optional)
- 10 curry leaves
- 2 green chilies chopped (skip for kids)
- ¾ tsp ginger grated or paste
- 1/3 teaspoon salt – use as needed
- 2 to 3 tablespoon coriander leaves chopped finely
- ¾ cup curd or yogurt or dahi (fresh, not sour)
- ½ cup water for soaking rava
- 2 to 3 tablespoon water for batter consistency
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (skip if using eno)
- 1 teaspoon Eno or fruit salt or ¼ tsp cooking soda (or soda-bicarbonate) (* refer notes)
- 1 teaspoon oil for greasing idli plates
- 4 cashewnuts or 8 split cashews
- 1 teaspoon carrot grated
How to make the recipe
Preparation for rava idli
- Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a pan.
- Fry 8 split cashews until golden and set aside for garnishing.
- To the same pan add ½ teaspoon mustard, ¼ teaspoon cumin, 1 tablespoon broken cashews and ½ tablespoon chana dal.
- Fry until the dal turns golden.
- Reduce the flame and add 10 curry leaves, 1 to 2 chopped green chilies and ¾ teaspoon ginger.
- Saute until it turns fragrant just for 30 seconds.
- Then quickly add 1 cup rava.
- Mix well to coat the semolina with ghee.
- Roast on a low flame stirring consistently until the rava turns crunchy and slightly aromatic.
- Do not brown the rava. Set this aside and cool completely.
Making rava idli batter
- When the rava is cooled down completely, add salt, 2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves, ¾ cup curd and half cup water.
- Mix well until the batter is uniform. Cover this and set aside for 30 mins.
- After 25 mins, grease the plates and place a cashew in each of the moulds.
- Also sprinkle some carrots. Set this aside.
How to make rava idli
- Bring water to a boil in a steamer or cooker.
- When the water is just about to come to a boil in a few minutes, Check the consistency of the batter and pour more water if needed.
- The batter has to be thick like regular idli batter and must be smooth.
- When you drop it with the spoon it should not be lumpy.
- It should not be of pouring consistency either.
- Skip this step if using eno.
- Add 1 tsp lemon juice to the batter and give a quick stir.
- Then sprinkle eno or soda and gently give a good mix.
- Avoid over mixing. The batter needs to be steamed immediately otherwise the rava idli will not turn fluffy & soft.
- Immediately transfer the batter to moulds.
- Place it in the hot steamer and steam for 10 mins on a high flame.
- Allow the idlis to cool down for 2 mins.
- If the rava idli is properly done, then a skewer or fork inserted into it comes out clean or with little crumbs.
- When the rava idlis cool down for about 3 to 4 mins, demould them with a wet spoon.
- Serve rava idli with coconut chutney or potato sagu (recipe below).
Watch to make rava idli
NUTRITION (estimation only)
Notes on rava idli
- Curd and soda or eno are the 2 ingredients that make the rava idli fluffy and soft. Any changes in the usage of these ingredients will affect the texture of rava idli and they will turn hard & dense.
- Soda: Do not try this recipe without eno or soda. You can reduce it to a pinch but it will not really yield you good & soft rava idli. As a rule of thumb I suggest using ¼ tsp for every cup of rava. It will not leave a soapy taste as the soda is activated with ¾ cup of curd.
- Curd: I use homemade curd made using full fat milk. It must be fresh and not sour otherwise the rava idli will have the smell of curd.
- Ghee: Do not reduce the amount of ghee or oil as it prevents the idli from turning sticky. There must be enough ghee to coat the rava.
- Water:The amount of water absorbed by rava may differ, so add accordingly.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips.
Sagu for Rava idli
Ingredients for 3 servings
2 medium potatoes
1 medium onion sliced
2 green chilies
1 tsp besan
¼ cup water to mix besan
1 tbsp oil
¼ tsp mustard seeds
¼ to ½ tsp cumin
½ tsp split urad dal
1 pinch hing/ asafoetida
1/8 to ¼ tsp turmeric
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped finely
Boil potatoes in a pressure cooker. If cooking in a pressure cooker, dice them to 1 ½ cubes and cook them with ¾ cup water for 1 whistle. If cooking in an Instant pot, then place them in a bowl and pressure cook for 5 mins.
When the pressure releases naturally, open the lid. Potatoes must be fully cooked. Set aside.
How to make sagu for rava idli
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard and cumin.
When they splutter, add hing, curry leaves and green chilies.
Add onions and fry until transparent. Do not brown them.
Add turmeric and salt. Pour water just to bring it to a consistency. I use the ¾ cup water in which I boiled the potatoes.
Bring it to a boil.
Meanwhile stir in besan with ¼ cup water. Break the lumps and make it a smooth mixture.
When the water begins to boil, pour this gently and give a good stir. You can add more water as needed to cook this.
Let the mixture cook and thicken.
Meanwhile mash the boiled potatoes keeping small chunks here and there.
Add it to the sagu and mix well. Add more water if needed. When it comes to a boil, turn off.
The consistency should be slightly runny as it will thicken when it cools down.
Rava idli sagu is not very thick. It should also have some water in it so it is suitable to serve with rava idli.
Add coriander leaves and taste test it. Add more salt if needed.
Notes: This sagu should have more flavor of aloo and less of the besan. However if you prefer more, you can stir in more besan with some more water and pour it.
You may add ½ tsp grated ginger to the tempering but most times you won’t find that flavor in the hotels.