Instant Idli (Steamed Rice Flour Dumplings)

Spring has been lurking around the corner in Sydney recently. This of course jolts me out of my hibernation to cook more food instead of curling up in a corner with a mug of soup! My biggest issue with winter are the short days and not enough daylight hours with rather bad lighting when I try to take photos of my recipes. Of course, I’m not the best photographer to begin off with, and tend to use my iPad to take most of the pictures on my bench top 😳

Now for today’s recipe,

I have previously posted a traditional Idli recipe, as it is one of the most popular South Indian rice dumpling here – How to make your Idli batter & steamed Idli dumplings the traditional way.

This instant rice flour Idli recipe is an old recipe from my mother’s cooking diary. Ready under 1 hour from start to finish, this easy recipe tastes great with Coconut Chutney, “Gunpowder” (interesting name isn’t it, 🙂 I’ll dig my recipe out soon) or Quick “Sambar” Lentil Stew to dunk the Idli in.

 Instant Idli

Instant "Idli" Rice Flour Dumplings

Vegan, Gluten free, no Oil recipe.

Priya: Priya@MasalaVegan
  • 2 cups White Rice Flour, coarsely ground
  • 2/3 cup Skinned Split Black Lentil Flour, fine
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 - 3.5 cups Warm Water
  • 3/4 - 1 teaspoon Eno Regular Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Rice Bran Oil, to grease the Idli Mould
  1. Dry whisk the flours and salt together until well mixed.

  2. Mix in the warm water until a thick but smooth batter forms. Add in warm water by the spoonful to get a smooth batter. The amount of water needed depends on the coarseness of the rice flour. Set aside in a warm corner.

  3. Get a large steamer/ pot that the Idli moulds fit into and fill with water. Bring the water to a boil on high heat mad then turn the heat down to the lowest setting. (I tend to fill more water as it evaporates while cooking. Important part is to not let the boiling water near the batter while cooking.)

  4. Grease the Idli moulds/ steaming cups with rice bran oil.

  5. Stir in the Eno salt into the resting batter and mix well quickly.

  6. Drop tablespoonfuls of batter into the greased and prepared steaming moulds and set into the steamer pot. Cover the pot and steam at the highest setting for 12 - 15 minutes.

  7. Remove the moulds filled with cooked dumplings from the steamer immediately and cool for 5 - 10 minutes before gently sliding out of the moulds with a soft spatula.

  8. Enjoy hot, with Coconut Chutney or dunked into Lentil Stew.

Recipe Notes

There are different kinds of steamers that everyone uses from makeshift large pots filled with boiling water to special Idli steamers. All kinds are good as long as they hold enough water and have a separate section where the rice flour batter can cook without the water boiling into it. If the batter touches the boiling water, there will be no perfectly steamed dumplings, just a big floury, sticky mess unfortunately! I learnt this the hard way, so hope this helps 🙂

Happy Cooking 😊 If you like this recipe, please check out my other Idli recipes here –  Quinoa Idli  and 

Semolina Idli

Punjabi Kadhi Pakora (Vegan Yogurt Stew with Fritters)

Kadhi Pakora is a winter staple in North India served with steamed rice and garnished with vegetable fritters. It took me a long time to veganise this recipe only because most of the suggestions on google are to use tofu in some form. Now, I’m not at all against eating tofu in moderation but, now and then if I’ve been slack with grocery shopping, we end up with no tofu! This recipe came about at a time like this, with the family pitching ideas at me and brainstorming about how best to get the Kadhi right (love weekend cooking!). My younger one, of course insisted, that as long as the Pakora (fritters) were good, no one cared about the actual taste or consistency of the Kadhi/ stew! I used this Pakora recipe and this steamed rice recipe. Happy cooking 😊 

Indian Buddha Bowl


Vegan Punjabi Kadhi Pakora

Gluten free, allergy friendly and onion & garlic free.

Priya: Priya@MasalaVegan
To blend together
  • 2.5 cups Non Dairy Milk (Soy, Rice & Coconut work well)
  • 5 tablespoons Chickpea Flour/ Besan, fine
  • 1 inch Fresh Ginger Root, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons Lime Juice
  • Salt, to taste
For the Spice Mix
  • 1 tablespoon Oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon Asafoetida
  • 7 - 8 Whole Dried Cloves
  • 2 inch Cinnamon Bark, coarsely pounded
  • 1 teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds
  • 8 Fresh Curry Leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • 1 Green Chilli, minced
Blend the chickpea flour and the rest of the ingredients until a smooth and thin batter like mixture forms.
  1. Heat oil in a deep sauce pan and add the mustard seeds. Cover and cook until they pop.

  2. Reduce heat and add all the other spices along with the curry leaves and chilli. Roast until fragrant.

  3. Add contents of the blender to the spices in the deep pan and mix well.

  4. Cook over gentle heat until the mix comes to a rolling boil. Cover and cook for a further 8 - 10 minutes to thicken the stew.

  5. While the stew cooks get the fritters ready. I made mine in the Air Fryer.

  6. If serving with rice, then take this time to get some freshly steamed rice ready.

  7. Assemble for serving by adding rice to a deep dish or bowl first. Pour the cooked Kadhi (stew) over the rice. Finally garnish with crisp Pakoras (fritters).


Beetroot Kurma/ Korma – Onion & Garlic Free

Beetroot Kurma is a recipe my mum would often make as I loved beetroot as a child. The fascinating colour, the sweet flavour were absolutely enticing even back then. Now my children share my love of beetroot including, rubbing it all over their teeth to scare each other! Autumn’s settling in nicely with all the rain and windy weather we have had recently making me crave hot meals again. It does seem that we are back to that time of the year where warm and filling meals are back on the meal plan again. I found the cutest looking baby beetroot the other day and had to get them. This recipe comes together quickly on a weeknight and does not use onion or garlic and is delicious with flatbread or, rice Pulao dishes.

Vegan Beetroot Kurma

Onion and garlic free, gluten-free quick Beetroot curry in a delicious coconut gravy.

Priya: Priya
  • 1 cup Beetroot, steamed and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup Desiccated Coconut
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Green Chili, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons Roasted Split Gram Lentils
  • 1 tablespoon Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Coriander, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Soak the desiccated coconut in warm water and set aside.

  2. Steam the beetroot to cook. Cool before peeling and cutting into thin wedges.
  3. Dry grind together the roasted split chickpeas, mustard and cumin seeds to a fine powder.
  4. Add in the coconut mixture and blend to a fine paste.
  5. In a pan, heat oil and add the spice blend.
  6. Mix in the turmeric powder and green chilli.
  7. Add the beetroot wedges and mix well.
  8. Season with salt and take off the heat.
  9. Garnish with coriander if using.



Bombay Sweet Potatoes

My potato obsession carries over to sweet potatoes too! When I’m not eating them as finger chips or, roasted sweet potatoes (yummy!) this recipe makes an appearance. Bombay Potatoes are popular in most restaurants and also, easy to make as a quick weeknight meal. There are many, many variations of this evergreen dish using different spices and herbs. The gorgeous flavour of sweet potatoes really shines in this simple recipe. At different times I’ve left out the garlic or onion, because I didn’t have any to come up with a very tasty and fast meal 🥘! 

I’ve sprinkled a dash of my favorite Garam Masala on top. Sweet potatoes are said to be even healthier than the normal red potatoes I use! 

Tastes great in lunch boxes accompanied by a light salad and some rice or quinoa too!

Bombay Sweet Potatoes


  • Sweet Potatoes, parboiled in their skins – 3 to 4 medium – Cubed (approximately 3 to 3.5 cups)
  • Oil – 2 teaspoons
  • Mustard Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Cumin Seeds – 2 teaspoons
  • Coriander Seeds, lightly crushed – 2 teaspoons
  • Turmeric Powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Red Chili Powder – 1/2 teaspoon, adjust depending on level of desired heat
  • Onion, diced – 1 small
  • Garlic Cloves, minced – 2
  • Fresh Ginger Root, minced – 1 tablespoon
  • Tomato Paste – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt, to taste
  • Water – 1/3 cup
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves & Stalks, chopped finely – 1 tablespoon


  1. Roughly peel and chop up the par-boiled sweet potatoes.
  2. Heat oil in a deep wok and swirl to coat the cooking surface.
  3. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop.
  4. Mix in the cumin seeds and roast on low heat until they sputter.
  5. Toss in the lightly crushed coriander seeds and turmeric. Mix well.
  6. Cook the garlic and ginger lightly until golden and aromatic.
  7. Mix the tomato paste and cook well until the raw smell goes off.
  8. Add the sweet potato pieces, salt and red chilli powder and mix everything.
  9. Mix in the water to make a smooth gravy and cook for 5 minutes on a slow to medium heat, until you see the mixture bubbling.
  10. Take off the heat and stir in the coriander.
    Serve warm.


Vegan, gluten-free, nut free. Omit onions and garlic if need be.

Tastes great with flatbread or, plain Quinoa or, steamed rice.

Baingan Ka Bharta (Vegan & Gluten Free Eggplant Dip)

“Baingan Ka Bharta” brings to mind a smoky eggplant dip bursting with the flavour of fresh tomatoes and onions. Eggplant dips seem to be a favorite across cultures and cuisines from the delicious Middle Eastern Baba Ganoush to the European Ajvar. The cooking process is always the same, eggplants are chargrilled, while the tomatoes and onions are diced. This scrumptious mélange results from adding local herbs and spices, in my case some green chillies, turmeric, cumin seeds and freshly chopped coriander. Using my Airfryer to bake the eggplant while finishing up the rest of the prep makes this a quick weekday night recipe. We ate our Bharta with Roti. In the past we have also eaten this dip with plain steamed Basmati rice and Daal.

Baingan Ka Bharta

(Vegan, gluten free, nut free Indian Eggplant dip that tastes best with flatbread.)


Eggplant, peeled and diced – 1 large
Onion, diced finely – 1 large
Tomatoes, deseeded and diced – 1 cup
Olive Oil – 1 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder – 1 teaspoon
Green Chillies, minced finely – 1 to 2 (depending on desired hotness)
Coriander Leaves & Stalks, minced finely – 2 tablespoons
Salt, to taste


For the Eggplant: Airfryer the peeled and diced eggplant for 25 to 30 minutes and mash with a fork when still warm.
Set aside the the mashed mix.

For the Bharta:
Grease a thick wok with oil. (I used my cast iron pan so, didn’t need much oil)
Roast the cumin seeds until they pop.
Add in the diced onions and cook until golden.
Throw in the minced chillies and mix well.
Mix in the turmeric powder and tomato. Cook until soft.
Add the mashed eggplant mix and season with salt.
Cook until everything looks mixed and smells swoon worthy!
Take off the heat and stir in the coriander.


Tastes great with roti/ chapatis or, Dal and steamed rice.

Click here for the Roti recipe.
Click here for my Daal recipe. 

Bitter Gourd Stir Fry in a Tomato Onion Gravy

Bitter Gourd, also called Bitter Melon or “Karela” in Hindi, used to be one of my favorite veggies growing up. From stuffed baked bitter gourd to pan-fried fritters, made by dipping bitter gourd into a rice flour batter with spices. Bitter Gourd usually grows on a vine during the colder months in India. However, I’ve to resort to getting frozen slices from the local Indian shop here. This quick preparation uses the Airfryer to cook the bitter gourd slices for 15 to 20 minutes while the tomato and onions cook in a teaspoonful of oil with a few spices. Perfect for busy week-nights with a bowl of Daal and steamed rice or Roti!

Bitter Gourd Stir Fry

(A quick and flavoursome Bitter Gourd Stirfry combining smoked paprika, cumin seeds and turmeric.)


Bitter Gourd, sliced – 2 cups (I used a half a kilo packet of frozen sliced bitter gourd)
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Onion, sliced thinly – 1 medium
Tomatoes, deseeded & diced – 1 cup
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Smoked Paprika Powder – 1 teaspoon
Water – 2 tablespoons
Salt, to taste


Spread the frozen bitter gourd slices in the air fryer and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 18 – 20 minutes (until slightly crisp).
In the meanwhile coat a deep pan with oil and add the cumin seeds. Cook until browned.
Stir in the onions and cook on a medium flame until lightly browned.
Mix in the turmeric Powder and the tomato. Cook on low heat until softened.
Stir the Airfried bitter gourd slices into the pan and coat well with the above mixture.
Add water and salt and mix well.
Sprinkle smoked red Paprika powder and take off the heat.


Use mild red Chilli powder in place of smoked paprika. I’ve used smoked paprika to add a smoky depth to the flavour.
If using fresh bitter gourd, then slice into 3/4″ rounds, toss in a spoonful of rice flour and then cook in the Airfryer.

Panchmel Daal (Vegan Mixed Lentil Curry)

Panch” in Hindi refers to the number ‘5′ and is pronounced rhyming with the word “bunch”. “Mel” is pronounced as “male” and refers to a mixture. This creamy North Indian Lentil Curry is made up of five different kinds of lentils cooked together to concoct a mouth-watering delicacy. I’ve used Split and whole white lentils (Urad Daal) with dried pigeon peas (Toovar Daal), split dried Mung beans, red lentils (Masoor Daal) and yellow split chickpeas (Chana Daal). This is the perfect place to use my Garam Masala! We ate our Panchmel Daal with Roti and a quick salad.


Panchmel Daal

(Vegan, gluten & nut free. Omit onion & garlic for an allium free dish.)


  • Split White Lentils – 1/2 cup
  • Whole Peeled Black Lentils – 1/4 cup
  • Yellow Split Mung – 1/2 cup
  • Red Lentils – 1/2 cup
  • Split Chickpeas – 1/4 cup
  • Oil – 1/2 tablespoon
  • Cumin Seeds, lightly crushed – 1 teaspoon
  • Carom Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Coriander Seeds, lightly crushed – 1 teaspoon
  • Onion, thinly sliced – 1 medium
  • Garlic Cloves, peeled and minced – 2
  • Fresh Ginger Root, minced – 1 teaspoon
  • Tomato, deseeded and diced finely – 1 medium
  • Fresh Green Chillies, deseeded & sliced thinly – 2
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves & Stalks – 2 tablespoons, heaped
  • Water – 4 cups + 1/2 cup optional
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Soak the lentils for an hour and rinse in fresh water until the water runs clear.
  2. In a deep pressure pan, heat the oil and coat the base of the pan.
  3. Toss in the lightly crushed cumin, carom and coriander seeds.
  4. Caramelise the sliced onions with the spices before tossing in the ginger, garlic and chillies.
  5. Add in the diced tomato and cook until softened.
  6. Mix in the turmeric and Garam Masala. Cook until aromatic.
  7. Add the lentils and mix well with the above mixture.
  8. Pour in the water and season with salt.
  9. Bring the lentils to a boil and clip the lid on to the pressure cooker pan.
  10. Cook on high for 8 to 10 minutes and take off the heat.
  11. Release pressure and check consistency. Add more water if required.
  12. Simmer on low heat for 5 – 7 minutes and sprinkle the fresh coriander.
    Serve hot.


Add in the green Chillies with seeds if wanting a hotter dish!
Tastes great with plain steamed rice or flatbread.
If cooking on an open pan then the cooking time increases to 45 – 50 minutes.

Kale & Broccoli Saag

“Saag” refers to the classic winter green leafy dish from Punjab eaten with stone ground cornflour flat bread. Traditionally made with spinach, mustard and amaranth leaves, warming herbs like ginger, green chilies and topped with dollops of clarified butter. I have always wondered how to use fresh Broccoli and Cauliflower stalks and leaves without having to resort to the compost bin. Pressure cooking them is the perfect option! My recipe takes away all the dairy and adds the goodness of broccoli to make a beautiful and tasty dish. This can be made in an open pan, but I steamed the broccoli and kale leaves with ginger and green chilies in the pressure cooker before mashing everything. We ate ours with Bhakriand a red onion salad.

Kale & Broccoli Saag


Kale Leaves & Stems, chopped – 1 bunch (6 big stalks)
Broccoli Leaves – 2 cups
Brown Onion, chopped finely – 1 medium
Fresh Ginger Root, chopped – 2 teaspoons
Garlic Cloves, chopped roughly – 5 to 6
Green Chillies, chopped – 1 to 2, depending on desired hotness
Water – 3/4 to 1 cup
Coriander Powder – 1 teaspoon
Cumin Seed Powder – 1 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Oil – 1 + 1 tablespoon
Salt, to season


Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a deep pressure pan.
Toss in greens, ginger, garlic, chillies and salt to the pan.
Add in water and bring to a boil.
Clip on the pressure cooker lid and steam for 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In the mean time, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil.
Add the onions and cook until lightly browned.
Toss in the turmeric, cumin seed and coriander powder.
Mix well and set aside.
Release steam completely from the pressure cooker before removing the lid.
Mash the cooked mushy greens to a fine purée.
Return the pan to the hob and pour in the oil – onion – spice mixture.
Mix well on low heat until the spices permeate the greens.


Serve hot garnished with roots or rice and red onion slices, if desired.

Vegan Quinoa & Vegetable ‘Not’ Fried ‘Not’ Rice!

My enduring love for fried rice means we tend to eat some at least weekly if not more often. However, with the weekend approaching fast all the leftover bits and bobs in the fridge need using up. I tend to cook a few cups of Quinoa and freeze to use as needed through the week. Of course, all the vegetables that hide in the freezer and the fridge need to also get a move on. This recipe is perfect in its versatility with an attitude of “anything goes”! So, round up all those lurking vegetables and make this quick dish.

Vegan Quinoa ‘Not’ Fried ‘Not’ Rice

(Vegan , protein rich with Quinoa and the added goodness of vegetables.)


  • Cooked Quinoa – 2 cups
  • Sesame Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Scallions, Stalks & Greens, sliced finely – 1 cup
  • Silken Tofu – 2 tablespoons
  • Garlic Cloves, minced – 4 teaspoons
  • Ginger Root, minced – 2 teaspoons
  • Mixed Vegetables, diced – 2 cups (I used a combination of carrots, broccoli, red bell pepper, silverbeet stalks & mushrooms)
  • Frozen Green Peas – 1 cup
  • Soy Sauce or Aminos – 2 tablespoons
  • Hot Chilli Sauce – 1 teaspoon, optional to drizzle on top



  1. Heat oil in a skillet over low heat and add the scallion stalks. Reserve green bits for garnish.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until aromatic and golden.
  3. Throw the vegetables in and cook until lightly cooked on medium to high for 6 to 8 minutes. Stir constantly.
  4. Toss in silken tofu and break up. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Mix quinoa and Aminos if using, or Soy Sauce.
  6. Take off the heat, sprinkle with scallion greens and mix through.
  7. Add apple cider vinegar and hot chilli sauce, if desired
  8. Serve immediately, drizzled with Sriracha, if desired.


Quinoa is a great source of protein and makes the perfect meal when combined with vegetables.

Bhakri – Indian Unleavened Sorghum Flour Flatbread

“Sorghum/ Broom-Corn/ Great Millet” flour, called “Jowar or Jowari Atta” in Hindi. Along with bringing a plethora of nutritional benefits, this flour is also gluten-free. Perhaps, that is because, this ancient grain is actually a type of grass. The seeds are boiled, steamed and ground into coarse flour to make into unleavened flatbread – “Roti”. The dough made of this flour lacks the elasticity that wheat flour dough has due to the lack of gluten. Kneading this dough is easiest with warm water and I used some flax seed powder as a binder. A pinch of dried Fenugreek leaves adds a beautiful flavour to this delicious flatbread.


Jowar Bhakri

(A gluten-free flatbread made with coarsely ground Sorghum flour.)


Coarse Jowar/ Sorghum Millet Flour – 2 cups whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta) 1 cup flour – 3/4 Warm Water – 1.5 cups (may need more or less depending on how finely the flour is ground)
Flax Seed Powder – 1 tablespoon
Dried Fenugreek Leaves – 2 teaspoons (optional)
Salt, to taste
Coconut Butter or other non-dairy spread to apply on the flatbread (optional)


Heat a flat griddle or pan on low heat.
Mix the flour, salt, dried fenugreek leaves and flax seed powder in a large mixing bowl.
Gradually mix in warm water and knead into a firm dough using as little water as possible.
Take a golf ball sized round and dredge in dry sorghum flour.
Roll out the dough into a circle about 6″ in diameter.
Place the flat bread on the hot griddle and cook until light brown spots appear. Flip over and cook the other side until puffy (see picture).
Remove from the griddle and spread coconut butter is using.
Wrap up in a clean tea towel.
Repeat until all the dough is used up.
Tastes best warm with Daal or, dunked into a thick gravy.

Happy Cooking!