A Rava Idli, made with sooji or farina, is an easy, quick version of this perennial south Indian tiffin favorite. My recipe makes soft, fluffy and spongy rava idlis, and it come together in minutes, without the day-long process of soaking and fermenting lentils and rice that goes into making a traditional idli batter. A healthy, vegan, soy-free recipe, can easily be nut-free.
1cupgrated vegetables, like carrots or bell peppers)(optional)
Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the mustard leaves and asafetida, if using. When the mustard sputters, add the cashews, ginger, curry leaves, cilantro and turmeric. Saute for a couple of minutes, then skip to next step if not using veggies. If using veggies, add them at this point. Continue to saute a few more minutes until any visible moisture has evaporated.
Saute for a couple of minutes, then add in the sooji. Roast the sooji, stirring it frequently, for about 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat or until the sooji smells fragrant. Don't leave the sooji unattended on the stove because it will brown fast in hot spots.
Turn off the heat and stir the yogurt and salt to taste into the sooji. The mixture will be quite thick, but that's okay. Let it stand for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, add water to the batter, until it's slightly fluid but thicker than a pancake batter. Add the baking soda and stir it in.
Oil the idli molds or spray them with cooking spray. Fill the molds with the idli batter, but don't let the batter brim over. Stop just short of the mold being completely full.
Pour about an inch of water in a wide pot deep and wide enough to hold the idli rack comfortably, or in a pressure cooker. Place the mold inside and cover the pot with a lid that has a vent hole. If using pressure cooker, leave the pressure regulator off so the steam vents. You don't want pressure to build up inside the cooker, you just want the idlis to steam.
Let the idlis cook on high 4-5 minutes. By that time you should see some steam venting from the lid. At this point turn down the heat and cook another 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Carefully, because there's steam inside the pot, open the lid and let the idli rack stand on the countertop for about five minutes. Use a sharp knife to loosen the idlis from the molds and slide them out.