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

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.



Tomato Coconut Blender Chutney

Traditionally this chutney is made with lovingly steamed tomatoes while the split chick pea lentils are roasted on a slow open flame. The coconut is ground along with the dry spices and lentils before being mixing with deseeded and puréed tomatoes. All great ingredients to spend a leisurely cold afternoon.

However, the hot weather means, spending too much time in the kitchen is a big no – no! Number 1 on the list is not cooking near the hob. Even though I’m blessed to have a gas-fired 5 burner hob cooktop, I do try to keep away when it gets too hot. My blender has a soup function that I thought was terribly innovative when I first got it in the middle of winter and made soups on a daily basis. The soup function hasn’t gotten used much in the past month or so. Using my blender means that this recipe can be ready under 15 minutes with none of the usual fuss! 

Tomato Coconut Chutney

(Vegan, gluten free, nut free and ready in just 15 minutes!)


Tomatoes, quartered and deseeded – 4 medium
Onion, roughly chopped – 1 medium
Green Chilli, finely minced – 1
Split Roasted Gram – 1/4 cup
Desiccated Coconut – 3/4 cup
Water – 1/2 cup (might not need all of it)
Salt, to taste

Coconut Oil – 1 teaspoon
Mustard Leaves – 1 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
Curry Leaves, torn roughly – 4 to 5


Mill the roasted split gram to a fine powder.
Add desiccated coconut and grind to a smooth powder.
Add onion, tomato, salt and green chili. Blend until smooth on the soup functionn your blender.
This takes the raw taste away and cooks it nicely in a single jar.
Check consistency and mix in water by the spoonful as needed. (I used a little lesser than the 1/2 cup).
In the meanwhile, heat coconut oil and add mustard seeds. Cook until they pop.
Mix in the cumin seeds and keep on a medium flame until they brown.
Take off the heat and then mix in the curry Leaves.
Tip this dressing on top of the Tomato chutney.
Store in a tight lidded glass jar up to a week.


My blender is quite powerful at 2200 W, so blending times may differ for lower capacity. Also, I have a mill function that I’ve used to grind the roasted split gram which, can be done in a coffee grinder too.

Vegan Quinoa Kanchipuram Idli (Gluten Free)

Our love for “Idli” (steamed rice dumplings), as a family is rather well-known by now! “Kanchipuram Idli” is a speciality from the beautiful South Indian state of Tamil Nadu renowned for the beautiful temples, culturally rich architecture and of course, awesome food! It has been many, many moons since I was last there however, memories of all the good times linger. I have substituted cooked quinoa in place of the par boiled rice normally used.

 We need,
  • Cooked Quinoa – 1 cup
  • Split Black Lentil Flour (Urad Dal) – 1/2 cup
  • Warm Water – 1 cup
  • Fresh Ginger Root, minced – 2 teaspoons
  • Black Pepper, freshly ground – 2 teaspoons
  • Cashew Nuts, broken into large pieces – 1 tablespoon (omit for a nut free version)
  • Baking Soda/ Eno Fruit Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Coconut Oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Black Mustard Seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Asafoetida –  1 teaspoon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Non Stick Spray, to grease the pan/ moulds
  1. Mix the quinoa, lentil flour and water together to make a smooth batter. Season with salt and mix in minced ginger and black pepper powder before setting aside.
  2. Heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. Wait until they pop and take off the heat.
  3. Quickly mix in the asafoetida and cumin seeds into the hot oil.
  4. Mix the spice – oil mixture into the above batter.
  5. Boil water in a steamer and grease either “Idlimoulds or, little bowls with non stick spray.
  6. Mix Eno fruit salt or baking soda (Not both!) into the batter until it looks frothy and bubbly.
  7. Quickly spoon batter into the prepared moulds and sprinkle the cashew pieces on top.
  8. Steam for 15 – 18 minutes on high.
  9. Check if cooked with a skewer inserted in the middle.

Tastes great warm with “Sambar” and coconut Chutney. Happy Cooking 😊


Spicy Potato Stir Fry (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Yesterday’s post Black Lentil Crêpes are one of those popular dishes that are widely made with slight variations across most South Indian homes and also, by restaurants. Of course, the restaurant version is oiler and larger! When the lovely Melanie from the Vegan Flavorista asked about the Spicy Potato filling, I realised that the actual star of the dish had been completely ignored! There are many, many versions of this dish and, my version is by no means the ultimate but, it is tasty, quick and can be whipped up in 10 minutes flat!

We need,

  • Potatoes, peeled and cubed – 4
  • Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard Seeds – 2 teaspoons
  • Cumin Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Onion, chopped – 1 medium
  • Ginger, minced – 1″ piece
  • Green chillies, minced – 2
  • Curry Leaves, torn – 8 to 10
  • Tomato, chopped – 1/2 cup
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Warm Water – 1/2 cup
  • Coriander Stalks & Leaves, chopped finely – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Boil the cubed potato pieces in the microwave for ~5 to 7 minutes on high.
  2. In the mean while, heat a deep bottomed pan with oil.
  3. Add the mustard seeds and cover till they pop.
  4. Stir in the cumin seeds and stir until golden.
  5. Mix in the chopped onions, ginger, chillies and curry leaves.
  6. Add the tomato pieces and cook until the raw smell goes off.
  7. Tip in the turmeric and water, stir well.
  8. Check if the potato pieces are ready (cooked but firm).
  9. Add the potato pieces into the spice mix and mix carefully till the potato is covered with the spice paste.
  10. Season with salt and bring to a boil.
  11. Take off the heat and garnish with the coriander.

This easy to make recipe is used as a fillings for wraps, sandwiches and of course, “Dosa“! Enjoy 😊




Black Lentil Crêpes/ Dosa (Vegan & Gluten Free)

These “crêpes” or, savoury pancakes or “Dosa“, as they are popularly known are a traditional breakfast dish across all of Southern India. Made by fermenting a rice and lentil batter and, cooked on a flat crepe pan. These delicate crepes are stuffed with all kinds of fillings, I used a spicy potato stir fry filling. Other fillings are stir fried cabbage, onions or even plain, with chutney!

We need,

  • Rice – 2 cups
  • Black Split Lentils (Urad Dal) – 1 cup
  • Fenugreek Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon

Vegetable Oil – Few spoons to grease the crepe pan.


  1. Wash and soak the rice, lentils and fenugreek seeds in water for 6 hours.
  2. Rinse and drain completely.
  3. Grind the soaked grains with salt to a thick batter by adding minimal spoonfuls of water.
  4. Store in a large bowl and allow the batter to ferment in a warm place for 8 – 12 hours. Mine was in the oven, overnight with the light on.
  5. After atleast 8 hours the batter will have risen, look frothy and bubbly and, smell yeasty.
  6. Heat a flat round pan on a slow flame and brush with some oil.
  7. Pour approximately 1/2 cup of batter and spread with a ladle to make a thin, flat pan cake like crepe.
  8. Cook until golden brown on a medium flame and the edges look crisp.

Enjoy warm with your choice of filling or, dipped into your favourite chutney or, even with tomato ketchup!

Vegan, Gluten free Pan Fried Dumplings (Appe)

“Appe” or, “Paniyaram” are fluffy little vegan, gluten free pan fried dumplings traditionally made along the West Coast of India. My mother made these with leftover Idli batter jazzed up with onions, curry leaves, chillies and spices. I use a non stick  pan with little round wells similar to an “Aebleskiver” pan.


We need,

  • Idli Batter from here – 2 cups
  • Onions, chopped finely – 1/2 cup
  • Curry leaves, finely minced – 10 to 12
  • Green chillies, finely sliced – 1 to 2
  • Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Asafoetida – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder, optional (I sometimes add it in for the lovely colour)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Coconut Oil, to grease the pan


  1. Heat the “Appe” or “Aebleskiver” pan after greasing the wells with some coconut oil on a low flame.
  2. Mix in the onions, green chillies, curry leaves, spices and salt into the Idli
  3. batter.
  4. Carefully add a few spoonfuls of the mix into the little wells. Cover and cook on low heat.
  5. Peek to see if the edges are browned in 4 – 5 minutes and carefully turn over to cook the other side until golden brown.

Serve hot with tomato chutney or, eat them dipped in tomato ketchup as my little one does 😊


Mixed Vegetable Lentil Stew (Sambar)


Mixed Vegetable Lentil Stew A.K.A. Sambar or “Kolaumbo”, as it is known around my place is a scrumptious lentil based stew full of veggie goodness. Commonly eaten with hot steamed rice or Idlis or Dosas, there are many, many variations of this one recipe made across the southern part of the Indian subcontinent. Here’s my quick recipe ready under 30 minutes, using my trusty pressure cooker to quickly cook the lentils. All kinds of vegetables can be and, are used, from potatoes, radishes, zucchini, carrots, drumsticks to okra and eggplants!

We need,

  • Split Pigeon Peas (Toor Daal) – 1/2 cup soaked for 4 to 6 hours
  • Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Onion, chopped – 1 medium
  • Tomatoes, chopped – 2 medium
  • Tamarind Paste – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Potatoes, cubed – 2 medium
  • Carrot, chopped – 1/2 cup
  • Cauliflower – 1/2 cup
  • Okra, pan fried – 8 to 10 (optional)

For the spice paste,

  • Fresh or Frozen Coconut, grated – 1 cup
  • Coriander Seeds – 2 teaspoons
  • Red Chilies – 4
  • Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Fenugreek Seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Black Mustard Seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Roasted Gram, split – 2  teaspoons
  • Asafoetida Resin, powdered – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
  • Water
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Heat oil in the pressure cooker.
  2. Add the onions, tomatoes and tamarind paste and cook till the raw smell goes off.
  3. Rinse the lentils and add to the cooker with salt.
  4. Stir in the chopped vegetables and cook for 10 minutes on high in the pressure cooker. Keep aside.
  5. In a dry pan roast Coriander seeds, Red Chilies, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Roasted Gram, and Asafoetida until golden. Cool and powder in spice/ coffee mill (I used my mortar & pestle).
  6. Mix the spice powder with grated coconut and turmeric powder until a smooth paste forms.
  7. Open the cooker and add on the spice paste. Add the pan fried okra at this stage, if using. Mix well and bring to a boil.

Enjoy the wholesome goodness of lentils and vegetables drizzled with coconut oil on the top, with steamed rice, Idlis or, even plain!

Idlis (Vegan, Gluten free Steamed Rice Dumplings)

My earliest memories of eating Idlis are as a toddler (if not younger) sitting on my mother’s kitchen bench top and nibbling on hot steamed idlis, as soon as they were taken out of their moulds. As a child I did not care very much for the traditional accompaniments of Chutney or Sambar (Daal) with Idlis. Now I find my little one doing exactly the same thing…. History repeats itself?!

To make these morsels of steamed goodness we need,

  • Rice – 3 cups
  • Black husked gram lentils (White Urad Dal) – 1 cup
  • Water to soak the rice and lentils separately, and approximately 1 cup for grinding the batter
  • Salt, scant half a teaspoon
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 teaspoon

Next steps are as follows,

  1. Soak the rice for 6 – 8 hours.
  2. Soak the lentils separately with the fenugreek seeds for 6 – 8 hours too.
  3. Grinding the rice and lentils separately for the batter is an important step and this is what my grinder looks like,


Any good quality strong blender will do, as long as the rice and lentils are ground separately with minimal quantities of water.

Mix the ground rice and lentil – fenugreek batter in a large mixing bowl. Add salt to taste (I tend to put in very little as, this inhibits fermentation of the batter), particularly in cooler temperatures.

Place the batter in a warm corner for at least 8 hours for a nicely risen, fluffy batter. During winter I often put the mixing bowl with batter into my oven with only the light on!

Steam spoonfuls of the risen batter in either well greased Idli moulds or small bowls in a large steamer vessel. Mine is quite old and looks like this,


Eat at least one piping hot and plain to savour the fluffy, spongy goodness! The rest can be dunked into Sambar/ Dal or, Chutney.