By Deepak Pachauri

Last updated : 25 June 2021


Rawa Idli

Enjoy hot, soft and fluffy idlis anytime with this easy instant Rava idli recipe.


PREP TIME: 5 mins

COOK TIME: 12 mins


TOTAL TIME: 37 mins

Here is a quick recipe to enjoy those lovely soft fluffy instant Rava idlis whenever the mood strikes. Serve with coconut or peanut chutney for a delicious and healthy meal.

The traditional Idli preparation is time-consuming and labour-intensive. You need to soak the rice and the dal for 4-6 hours then grind it and let it ferment before it is ready to be steamed. The process from start to finish takes a minimum of 12 hours. It is not a dish that can be cooked up, on short notice.

That’s what makes Instant Rava idli so popular amongst idli lovers. They are just as delicious and nutritious and can be made without any preparation in advance.

What is Rava idli?

Instead of using the traditional rice and urad dal mixture, Rava idli is made with a mixture of semolina, Yoghurt and a leavening agent. The Rava needs to be soaked in the yoghurt mixture before being steamed.

The Origin of Rava Idli

This scrumptious dish originated in a time of deprivation and war. During the Second World War, the main ingredient for idli, rice was in short supply which made it difficult for people to make idlis the traditional way. As they say, necessity is the mother of all inventions, one enterprising restaurant, Mavalli Tiffin Room, better known as MTR, in Bangalore, Karnataka came up with this recipe of instant idli. They substituted the rice/urad dal combination with Rava (semolina). And that’s how this instant version of idli was born that we now call Rava idli or semolina idlis

How to make Instant Rava idli

Step by step instructions to make Rava idli

  1. Take some ghee in a non-stick pan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Prepare the tempering by adding asafoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the ghee. Once these start to sputter, add urad dal, channa dal, green chillies, curry leaves to the tempering and stir fry them for 10-20 seconds. Next, add sooji and fry stirring constantly for about two minutes till it starts to change colour and turns aromatic.
  3. Take the mixture off the heat and set it aside to cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Mix in salt, yoghurt, and water (about 1.5 cups or as required) to form the batter. Cover the batter and let it rest for about half an hour.
  5. After about 30 minutes, the semolina would have soaked up most of the liquid. The batter is now ready to make the idlis.
  6. Add 1 cup of water to the idli steamer. Heat it over medium heat till the water starts to boil.
  7. Mix in Eno fruit salt to the semolina batter until the batter turns light and foamy. Do not over mix.
  8. Brush the idli moulds with oil or cooking spray and then pour in a ladle full of the prepared batter.
  9. Carefully place the idli stand inside the steamer and secure the lid. Steam the idlis for 10 -12 minutes so they are cooked thoroughly.
  10. Wait for 5 -10 minutes for the steam to be released before opening the steamer and taking the idli stand out.
  11. Let the idlis rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the moulds. Scoop the idlis carefully out of the mould with a sharp knife.
  12. Serve it with coconut chutney, red coconut chutney and sambhar.

Tips to make rava idli

  1. The consistency of the yoghurt does not matter. If using thick yoghurt, add more water and if using watery yoghurt, use less water.
  2. Add Eno fruit salt only when you are ready to make the idlis otherwise the idlis will end up flat. 
  3. You can soak up to one hour – the longer you soak the better these idlis turn out. But since we want it instantly, 20-30 minutes will do. 
  4. You can substitute Eno fruit salt with ½ teaspoon of baking soda. I am not a huge fan of baking soda in this recipe because it leaves an aftertaste.
  5. Highly recommend using ghee to saute the semolina/Rava. Ghee makes the idli flavorful and elevates the taste.


  1. Add grated carrots to the mix to include a dose of veggies.
  2. Skip the cashews to make it nut-free.
  3. To make it vegan, use coconut oil or any other oil of your choice for sauteeing. 

How to prep for Instant Rava idli ahead of time

You can make a large quantity of Rava idli mix and refrigerate or freeze the mix until you are ready to make them. You can freeze them for up to 6 months.

Here are the steps to follow – 

  1. Complete the first 4 steps up until sauteing the Rava.
  2. Once the Rava cools down refrigerate it or freeze in a freezer-safe glass container or a Ziploc bag.
  3. When you are ready to use, let the Rava come to room temperature, before adding yoghurt and proceeding with the rest of the steps. 

If you are a South Indian food lover, also check our recipes for Masala Dosa , Sambhar, coconut chutney.

If you made this recipe, please be sure to rate it in the recipe card below. Sign Up for my email newsletter or you can follow me on InstagramFacebook , or Twitter for more vegetarian inspirations.


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