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, πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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

Semolina Idli

Vegan Steamed Semolina Dumplings (Rava Idlis)

These delicious steamed dumplings are made with any vegetables that maybe lurking in the corner of the fridge or freezer. In the past I have used bell pepper, golden corn and even broccoli in these savoury morsels. Using a vinegar and Eno fruit salt combination makes the Idlis fluffy and eliminates having to use any yogurt. These keep well and taste great after cooling down too!

We need,

  • Semolina – 3 cups
  • Carrot, finely diced – 1 medium
  • Cauliflower, broken into small florets – 1/2 cup
  • Green Peas – 1/2 cup
  • Green Chillies, sliced finely – 1 to 2
  • Coriander Leaves & Stalks, finely sliced – 2 tablespoons
  • Curry Leaves, minced – 2 tablespoons
  • Asafoetida – 1/2 teaspoon
  • White Vinegar – 2 tablespoons
  • Warm Water – 4 to 4.5 cups
  • Eno Fruit Salt – 1 heaped teaspoon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Non Stick Spray, to spray on the Idli moulds/ bowls


  1. Boil water is a large vessel to steam the Idlis.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk the salt, asafoetida, vinegar and 3 cups of warm water.
  3. Fold in the semolina and whisk until there are no lumps in the batter. Add more warm water if required to make a cake- like smooth batter.
  4. Add in the vegetables and stir well. Set aside.
  5. Spray the moulds with nonstick spray (I used the one here, but shallow bowls that sit on a plate without touching the water directly can be used too).
  6. When the water in the steamer starts to boil, quickly whisk in the Eno fruit salt into the batter.
  7. Once effervescence (bubbling of the batter) develops, quickly spoon the batter into the individual moulds (fill only up till the half mark) and place in the steamer.
  8. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes and take off the heat.
  9. Remove the moulds and cool for 5 minutes before taking the Rava Idlis out of the mould with a flat spatula.

Serve hot with chutney, tomato ketchup or even, plain. Enjoy!


Vegan Sweet Semolina Dumplings (Sweet Idlis)

These delicious little steamed sweet morsels are a low fat, quick fix for afternoon tea and dessert. They take about 15 minutes to prepare and another, 15 minutes to cook. These can be topped with nuts, raisins, dates, sprinkles or, even chocolate chips. The flavouring varies from powdered green cardamom seeds to vanilla essence. I remember my mother adding saffron strands sometimes to colour them orange.

We need,

  • Fine Semolina – 1 cup
  • Dessicated Coconut – 1/2 cup
  • Baking Soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Coconut Sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Soy Milk – 1 cup
  • Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Vanilla Essence or, Powdered Green Cardamom Seeds – 1 teaspoon


  1. Heat water in a large vessel for steaming and spray the Idli Moulds (used here) with non stick spray.
  2. Sieve together the fine semolina, dessicated coconut, xylitol and baking soda.
  3. Whisk in the cupful of soy milk, vanilla essence and oil until no lumps remain.
  4. Drop the batter by the spoonful into the moulds.
  5. Add desired toppings, in this case sprinkles!
  6. Steam for 12 – 15 minutes and carefully remove the moulds from the pot of hot water.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before sliding out with a spatula.

Serve warm or, store in a covered box till ready to eat. These last quite well in lunch boxes too. Enjoy!