Fluffy Rawa Idli – Microwave or otherwise!



  • 2 1/2 cups semolina (suji / rawa)
  • Yoghurt - 1/3 cup
  • Salt- to taste
  • Effervescent salt- 1 per plate of idli mould
  • Warm water- about 3/4 cup
  • Cumin seeds (jeera)- optional- 1 tsp


1. First roast the semolina (aka suji/rawa)  slightly on low heat. The aim is not to change the colour, but to get rid of moisture, if any.

Try not to step away from the pan, and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Keep the flame low, otherwise you will find bits of burnt rawa sticking to the bottom of the pan, and they will completely sabotage your perfect white idlis which should be reminiscent of the moon.

2. Pour into a plate and spread out. Let cool.

3. Now beat the yoghurt. You do not need thick yoghurt for this recipe, as you have to mix it with water. Add warm water at this stage, and whisk to a buttermilk consistency. Adjust the amount of water based on the original thickness of your yoghurt.

4. When the suji cools, pour it into a large bowl and start pour in in the buttermilk mixture, while whisking continuously. Don’t pour in all the liquid at one go. You are looking for a thick consistency, so you will typically end up using about 3/4 of the yoghurt mixture.

5. Let stand for 15-20 minutes minimum. I like adding a spoonful of cumin seeds, just for the flavour, but it is completely optional.

6. Now you will find that the mixture has become thick, so you might need to add a few more tbsp of water. Whatever you do, don’t make a runny or thin mixture… or the idlis will be as flat as a plate.

I find making the idlis in a microwave very convenient, specially if it is just for the 3 of us. Of course, you can make it in the pressure cooker , or even a large pan with a tight fitting lid which can hold your idli stand – both work perfectly well. Over the years, I have used all 3 with great success.


When using a microwave, use a microwave safe idli stand. This will consist of an outer container with a lid which holds the idli plates inside it. The best way to get fluffy idlis to get the outer container hot. Put 1/2 cup of water in it, cover,  and microwave for 1 minute. Leave undisturbed, covered, in the microwave. Of course, you should have kept the idli plates out already.

7. Grease the idli plates well.

In a bowl, get as many heaped tablespoons of batter as your idli moulds. If making in a microwave, although there are 2 plates stacked on top of each other, I find making one plate at a time makes the idlis much fluffier. My idli plate has 4 idli moulds, so I use 4 tbsp batter at a time.

If you are using a pressure cooker or a pressure pan though, no worries at all. You can fill all of them together.

So back to the procedure, in a bowl, take as many heaped tbsp of batter as the mould. So if you have 4 moulds, take 4 heaped tbsp of batter.

8. Now add in 1 heaped tsp of effervescent salt. Quickly, add in 1 tsp of water. This will help the bubbles form. This process needs a pair of very quick hands, so please, do not tarry. Mix all the bubbling salt into the batter and quickly put the heaped spoonfuls into the greased idli plate.

For the pressure cooker and pan , you could fill them all now. For the microwave, best fill only 1 plate.

9. Now, go to the microwave and remove the lid. There will be steaming hot water in tit. Put the filled idli plate in, pop the lid on,  and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Let stand for  another minute or 2 in the microwave. This ensures that if there are any uncooked bits, they will get get cooked in the steam.

If using the cooker, steam without the vent whistle on a high flame till there is a lot of steam, and then reduce the flame and cook on low for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, switch off the gas and let stand for 2 minutes.

10. After the standing time, remove the idlis with a sharp knife and enjoy hot! Serve with chutney or sambhar.

If you have got the batter perfect, which you will over time, I promise you will be so proud of yourself. There is nothing quite like seeing a perfect round, white, fluffy idli right there in your own kitchen.

This recipe is ideal for breakfast, lunchbox, snack or even a main meal.


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