Of all the south Indian tiffins, Idlis unabashedly hold the number one spot in my book. Spongy and light, they are great as breakfast but also perfect for a light meal. Rava idlis are a variation of the traditional ones made with rice. These have farina/semolina (rava) that is roasted and then mixed with yogurt and steamed. And an added bonus is that they don’t need to be planned ahead of time, bypassing the soaking, grinding and fermentation steps that come along with the traditional idlis (although I love those just as much and will gladly go through all the prep!)
I still remember the first time I tasted these as a kid at a friend’s place. They were from Bangalore and Aunty had brought back a few packets of a mix from the famous MTR restaurant. Packaged in a clear packet, this was years before their line of mixes became such a sensation. Later on, I chanced upon an Udipi restaurant in Bombay that made the best rava idlis and I was hooked. And determined to try making them at home. The first few attempts resembled doorstops…….dense and very unappetizing. Then I had a bit of an ah-ha moment. Eno fruit salt…….I had been using it to make instant dhoklas and it seemed like such a natural choice for these. Finally had success and this is the recipe I have been following ever since.
There are many recipes for rava idli and I have to admit that there is nothing out of the ordinary about this one. It is however the one I use and that works for me every time. Sour yogurt is commonly called for in many recipes but I have found that store-bought buttermilk makes a perfect substitute. I have added vegetables to the idlis to make them more of a meal but you may skip it if you like. The other important step in the recipe is to roast the rava on a medium-low flame to prevent it from scorching.
Although these are traditionally served with a potato curry, I prefer to serve it with chutneys and sambar. And they are so full of flavor that I am also perfectly happy eating them as is……fresh out of the steamer 🙂
Rava IdliPrint Recipe
- 1 cup coarse Rava
- 1 + 1/2 tbsp canola, peanut or vegetable oil
- 5 raw cashews, broken into pieces
- 1 1/2 tbsp chana dal
- 3/4 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 thai chili, finely chopped
- 1 sprig curry leaves (apprx. 10 leaves), chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3/4 cup thick buttermilk
- Approx. 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp Eno fruit salt
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 3/4 cup cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 tbsp oil
Heat 1 tbsp oil on a medium flame in a skillet and add the cashew pieces. Roast until they change color and remove with a spoon and keep aside.
Add the 1/2 tbsp more oil into the same skillet and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the cumin seeds. Fry for a few seconds and then add the ginger, green chillies and curry leaves.
Add the rava and reduce the flame to medium-low. Roast it, stirring constantly for about five minutes. The rava will turn from a beige color to whitish and looked slightly puffy.
Add the cashews, stir and turn off flame. Let this mix cool completely.
In the meantime, if using the vegetables, heat 1 tbsp oil in the same skillet and add the carrots and stir. After a couple of minutes, add the peas, corn and cabbage and cook just until the vegetables soften slightly. Keep aside to cool.
Grease the idli molds with ghee or oil. I find ghee works better to prevent the idlis from sticking.
Heat water in a steamer that can hold the idli stand or a pressure cooker.
Mix the roasted rava, vegetables (if using), cilantro, salt and buttermilk in a bowl. Add the water slowly to make a batter that falls as a ribbon when mixed. It shouldn't be too thin or thick.
Keep everything ready and when the water starts to boil, add the Eno along with a tsp of water and mix until the batter turns light and airy.
Immediately transfer into the idli molds and steam for 10-12 mins.
Serve with chutney and sambar
* Mix only enough batter that will fit into the idli molds. I have a stand that holds four plates with four compartments, giving me 16 idlis. If your stand is smaller, divide the mix into half and make a batter. You will have to make it in two batches. ** The rava absorbs the liquid very quickly and if you find that it has thickened a lot by the time you are adding it to the molds, just think it down with some water.