Idli with Idli Rava Recipe (with Step by Step Photos)

Idli Sambar, a soft and spongy round shaped steamed rice-lentil cake accompanied with Sambar and White Coconut Chutney, is a traditional and healthy breakfast from South Indian cuisine. Idli can be prepared from either plain rice or rice rava (aka Idli Rava or Cream of Rice), urad dal and fenugreek seeds. This recipe uses Rice Rava instead of Plain Rice to give it a grainier texture and Poha to make them extra soft. Since soaked rice rava is added into batter with very little to no grinding at all, Rice Rava Idli has grainy texture compared to the Idli made with rice. To make soft and spongy idli, its batter needs to be fermented; all ingredients are soaked in water, grounded individually into a smooth consistency, mixed and then allowed to ferment for 8 hours at room temperature; fermented batter is then poured into idli moulds and steam cooked – this Idli with Idli Rava Recipe explains this entire process with step by step photos.

Idli with Rice Rava

Preparation Time:  5 hours soaking time + 8 hours fermentation time + 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 servings
1/2 cup Urad Dal (skinned black lentils)
2 cups Idli Rava (rice rava or cream of rice)
3 tablespoons Poha (aval/rice flakes)
1/4 teaspoon (approx. 8-10 seeds) Fenugreek Seeds (methi dana)
1/2 teaspoon Salt (or to taste)


  1. step-1
    Rinse urad dal in water 4-5 times. Combine urad dal, fenugreek seeds and poha in container and soak in approx. 1¼ cups or water (urad dal mix should be completely sub-merged in water) for 4-5 hours.
  2. step-2
    Soaked dal volume would increased to almost double in 4-5 hours as shown in the photo.
  3. step-3
    Rinse and clean idli rava in water for 4-5 times; this step is required for making idli white. To rinse and clean rava, transfer it to vessel, pour almost double the amount of water over it, stir and swirl with a hand and drain the water. You will see water becoming cloudy for first 2-3 times. Soak rinsed rava in water for 4-5 hours. Water should just cover the rava (as shown in the photo).
  4. step-4
    Drain the excess water from urad dal mix. Do not discard the drained water, it can be used while grinding the batter. Place drained dal in the jar of a mixer grinder.
  5. step-5
    Grind it into a smooth paste, add water (drained in step-4) as needed while grinding the dal. The batter should be fluffy but not thick as shown in the photo.
  6. step-6
    Pour it into a deep large vessel (pot). We will ferment the batter in the same vessel and its size would increase, so make sure that vessel is sufficiently large.
  7. step-7
    Drain excess water from soaked rava, gently squeeze it using your hand and add it to the grinder jar.
  8. step-8
    Add water as needed and grind into a smooth batter. It will have medium coarse texture and it will not be as smooth as urad dal batter. Grinding the idli rava is an optional process; you can also add drained and squeezed rava directly in the ground urad dal batter.
  9. step-9
    Pour it over urad dal batter, add salt and mix well. Batter should not be very thin or very thick. Thick batter will not ferment well and idlis will turn hard, thin batter will ferment but idlis will turn flat while steaming.
  10. step-10
    Cover it with a plate and keep it in warm place for around 8 hours for fermentation. Batter’s volume would increase after fermentation. Depending on the weather and room temperature, time required to ferment the batter could vary (around 30 degree Centigrade/85 degree Fahrenheit is ideal). In cold season, place covered batter in oven and keep the oven light on or keep it in warm place. 
  11. step-11
    Stir the batter gently with a large spoon. As you can see, the batter has tiny bubbles because of the fermentation.
  12. step-12
    Pour 1-2 glass water in a deep broad pan or a steamer and heat it over medium flame. Grease the idli mould with oil and pour batter in it.
  13. step-13
    Place the idli mould in steamer and cover with a lid. Steam it for 10 minutes over medium flame. After 10 minutes, insert a toothpick into the cooked idli and check if it comes out clean; if yes, then it is cooked; if not, then it is not cooked yet; steam it for few more minutes and check again.
  14. step-14
    Remove the idli moulds from the steamer and let them cool for few minutes. Remove the idli with a spoon and transfer to a plate. Serve hot idli with Sambar and White Coconut Chutney.
Tips and Variations:

  • Grinding the rice rava in step-8 is optional. If you like grainy texture of idli, then add the soaked and drained rice rava directly in to urad dal batter.
  • Grease the mold well before pouring the batter and let it cool for few minutes after taking it out from steamer to remove the cooked idlis easily from mould.
  • You can make idli without steamer by using a pressure cooker as steamer. Remove the whistle while steaming the idli and follow the steps mentioned above.
  • To make idlis white, rinse and clean rice rava in water for 4-5 times or until water doesn’t turn cloudy.
Taste:  Soft and Spongy
Serving Ideas:  Rice rava idlis tastes best when served with green/red/white coconut chutney, and mixed vegetable sambar as a south Indian meal or breakfast.

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Feb 04, 2018 by Shri
Best idli receipe..thanks for sharing

Nov 29, 2017 by A.Deivanayaki
Very nice recipes.....
All recipes easily understandable.....Your step by step photos very useful for leaners.

Nov 10, 2017 by Dishha
Can we make dosa from this batter?

Response: I am not sure about it but you can try.

Sep 27, 2017 by Richa
Very well explained recipe. GREAT JOB. This is the second time I am going to make it. Specifically searched for this page because I did not want to miss anything.

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May 25, 2017 by Samira
I forgot to grind the idly rawa and added to the urad dal paste and the fermentation already started. I don't like idlies grainy. Please suggest if I may grind the fermented batter before making idlis to make it less grainy.

Response: Hello Samira, don't grind the already fermented batter because if you grind it again, the texture of the batter will change (fermentation bubbles will disappear) and idli will not turn soft.

May 09, 2017 by Priyanka
Can I skip the fenugreek seeds? Or is there a substitute for them?

Response: Hello Priyanka, adding fenugreek seeds helps in the fermentation process. If you are living in cold climate, don't skip adding fenugreek seeds for better fermentation else you can skip it.

Feb 21, 2017 by Bhavana
Very well explained..I mainly wanted to know whether grinding the rava is essential or not and found answer here. Thank u.

Dec 29, 2016 by Cathy
Thanks for the recipe. Can I use urad dal flour in this recipe? If so, what would the specific directions be?

Response: Yes, you can use the urad dal flour in this recipe.

Nov 05, 2016 by Gajanan Bant
Knowing the cooking habits I found the recipe given is very nice and I will try to do as per the given ingredients...

Sep 10, 2016 by Narayan Ponsamy
Vrery good recipe, I will try to make it.

Apr 01, 2016 by Rojalee Panda
Thank you very much for amazing help with pics and tips. Now, I am going to make it in the breakfast.....