Rava Idli (Semolina Dumpling)

January 5th, 2011 filed under Appetizers, Snacks
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Rava Idli is a popular South Indian dish.  The traditional way of making idlis would take two days. This recipe is much quicker and easier, and tastes just as delicious!  Rava Idlis can be enjoyed as a snack or as a light meal

Makes approximately 16-20 Idlis.


For the batter

  • 1 cup coarse semolina (moti sooji)(available in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 1 green chili finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped  (hara dhania)
  • 1/4 cup finely cabbage chopped  (pata ghobi)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (curd, dahi)
  • 1 cup water as needed
  • 1 teaspoon ENO (fruit salt) (available in Indian grocery stores)

For the seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seed (rai)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 green chilies sliced lengthwise and cut in half.

Utensils for Steaming Idlis

  1. Idli stand – this has three to four plates stacked over each other.  For this recipe I am using the rack that makes 16 Idlis.
  2. Covered pot, large enough to hold the idli stand.
  3. Alternatively, an egg poacher can work just as well, if you do not have an Idli stand


  1. Mix semolina, salt, green chili, ginger, cilantro, cabbage, yogurt, and water (as needed) to make a pancake-like batter. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
  2. The batter thickens as the semolina absorbs the water.  At this point, add a little more water if it is too thick.
  3. Add approximately ¾ cup of water to the pot. Check to make sure that the water does not touch the bottom plate of the idli stand. Bring to boil
  4. Lightly grease Idli plates with oil.
  5. Add Eno Fruit Salt to the batter and mix well.  The mixture will begin foaming.  Immediately begin pouring into the Idli trays. Place the stand into the steaming pot.
  6. Cover the pot and steam the idlis ten to twelve minutes on medium heat. Insert a toothpick in the center of one idli. If the toothpick comes out clean, remove the stand from the pot. Do not overcook the idlis, as they will lose their softness and dry out as they cool.
  7. Cool for just a few minutes before removing each individual idli.  They should come out easily and not stick to the mould.  The idlis should be spongy and soft.

For The Seasoning

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to crack, add the chilies.  Stir for a few seconds and remove from the heat.
  2. Pour the seasoning over the Idlis on the serving plate.


  1. You can replace the cabbage with shredded zucchini or carrots.
  2. This recipe will make slightly more than 16 idlis. If you choose, you can make it in two batches.  The batter can be prepared all at once; however, you must add the Eno just prior to pouring into the idli stand.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Serve seasoned Idlis with coconut or cilantro chutney.
  2. Serve Idlis with samber (south Indian vegetable soup). Idlis do not have to be seasoned for that.
  3. Stir-fry Idlis in the seasoning oil mixture over medium heat for a few minutes. They will turn slightly brown.

Enjoy this simple and delicious recipe.

If you enjoyed the recipe for Rava Idli (Semolina Dumpling), here are more great recipes you should try from Manjula's Kitchen.

56 Responses to “Rava Idli (Semolina Dumpling)”

  1. Padmini Naidu says:

    Very good

  2. Amita says:

    Thank you .. this recipe is wonderful .

  3. Hi,
    Wonderful recipe. Thanks for sharing it!! The idlis look very soft and fluffy.

    Have you ever tried making idlis in chinese style?

    If not, and interested in the recipe, visit my blog. You can make idlis the way you make and for the chinese punch, explore my recipe. Hope you like it.

  4. shivangi says:

    Hello Aunty ,

    Aunty i don’t have eno powder and i am not finding it in indian store , can i use something else.

  5. Rajdeep Kaur says:

    Hi Manjula Aunty,

    You made it very easy, as i was always thinking i cant make idlies. I’ll surely try now…

    Can i use the normal big pot and cover it or there is a special type of pot comes for Idlies?


  6. sushila says:

    For Rava Idli which sooji is to be used. Wheat sooji or Rice Sooji. Kindly clarify. I visit you web site frequently.

  7. Vani says:

    I combined both the recipes given by Ms. Anna and Ms. Manjula. I followed the method given by Anna. I followed Madame Manjula’s method by adding ENO fruit salt. I don’t know the difference between Soda-bi-Carb and ENO. The idli’s were fluffier when I used ENO. The first time I made I added a pinch of Soda-bi-carb. The idlis were great but not fluffy as I would have liked it to be.
    So I have tried both your recipes. They are great! Thank you so much for sharing. :-)


    • Dilip says:

      To get spongy, fluffy idlis or dhoklas what you need is effervescence i.e. formation of Carbon-dioxide in the mixture. The most effective way of getting this is using a mixture of acid and alkali which on contact with water forms carbon dioxide. Eno fruit salt does the same. Soda bi-carb on its own does not produce effervescence, so you need to combine it with an acid. Mixing it with curd does produce some effervescence but not too much, also as manjula says you need to add it just before steaming else the effervescence doesnt last. If you do not get Eno fruit salt at your place, I suggest that you do the following. Get citric acid powder – this is in crystalline form (similar to salt) and white in colour. You should find this in any Asian stores. Mix half teaspoon of citric acid and soda-bicarb, and add it to the mixture just before steaming.

      To see effervescance in action – mix half teaspoon of citric acid and soda-bicarb and put it into a glass of water :-)

  8. Liane says:

    Wow Anna! Great recipe. I’m married to someone from India a’s well and appreciate that you took the time to share this recipe.
    Thanks so much – I’ll definitely try this!

    • anna says:

      Thank You ,Liane!For us,foreigners,it takes several times to try to prepare each dish until we perfect it.There are several types of sooji,2-3 variete of green chillies(some of them more pungent,some less),and the same about dry red chillies.In the beginning it was total confusion for me.As times pass,You too will master the cooking of Indian dishes.Good luck to You,Liane!

  9. anna says:

    I am Russian, married to Indian & living in South India for several years now. I LEARNT FROM My M-I-L how to cook a very good ”Rava idli”.
    (1) Chop finely 3-4 green chillies,handfull of curry leaves, 1” of ginger,(i.e. 1/2 tbsp of ginger)
    (2) Take in a heavy bottomed casserole 1 tbsp of oil, when hot -add 1 tsp of mustard seeds,when they start spluttering – add pinch of asafoetida, 2 tbsp of channa dall (i.e. bengal gram),1 tbsp broken cashewnuts,chopped green chillies,chopped curry leaves & ginger. Fry another 1-2 minutes(.Be carefull not to burn the ingridients ,which you are frying, just add everything one by one without any delay & continuesly stirring)Add 2 cups of coarse semolina ,continuesly stirring( another 2-3 minutes) or until aroma of roasted semolina comes out.Immediately switch off the stove & let the mixture cool down to room temperature.
    (3) When cool, add a pinch of soda bicarb, 1.5 cup of water+1.5 cup of curds, 1 tsp of salt ,chopped fresh coriander leaves & 1 grated carrot.(You can add green peas also).Let this mixture stand for at least 10-15 mins.
    (4)Smear slightly your idli case with ghee, pour mixture with laddle or spoon into idli cases & steam for 7-10 mins. It makes 20-22 idlis

    (1) Curds & soda bicarb is necessary to add to get the soft,fluffy idlis
    (2) Curds & water should be of room temperature
    (3) After adding curds,water & other ingredients , mixture should stand for some time ,so that semolina should absorb the moisture and the mixture ferments.
    (4) Add extra water, if needed to get desired consistency of idli batter.
    (5) Salt, green chillies should be added according to taste.

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