Rava Idli and Potato Saagu/ Bombay Saagu


Rava Idli or Rave Idli is a variation of Idli, made with Rava/ Sooji/semolina instead of the usual rice and Urad Daal.  It is a specialty of the state of Karnataka and is usually served as a breakfast item. It has been said that the popular restaurant chain, Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) of Bangalore invented it. Apparently during World War II, when rice (a staple item used in idli) was short in supply, they experimented in making idli using semolina and created the now famous Rava Idli.

 Rava-Idli translates to semolina-idli in the Kannada language. Rava idli is served hot and is usually eaten along with Saagu and Coconut Chutney. A dash of Ghee poured on the top of Rava Idli adds to the overall taste. (Adapted from here). 

Unlike a regular Idli, the batter can be prepared in an instant and does not require any grinding or fermenting. So this is more of an Instant Idli. There are many versions of Rava Idli and Saagu, but this is the one that I follow often.


rava_idli_saagu 022

Potato Saagu Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium potatoes
  • 1 medium Onion (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup peas
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 4-5 Curry leaves
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • Asafetida  a pinch
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Mustard seeds
  • Red chilli powder (depending on taste)
  • salt, Oil



  • Peel the potatoes and chop into small cubes. Put them in water to avoid browning. Now cook them over the stove top or microwave along with salt.
  • Alternatively pressure cook potatoes with water and then chop into cubes. Retain the water and keep aside.
  • Take a big pan and heat oil.  Now add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafetida and curry leaves,
  • Add the chopped onion, green chillies and cook until the onion turns transparent.
  • Add salt, chopped tomatoes, turmeric, red chilli powder and mix well.
  • Add the cooked potatoes, peas, salt, and water from the boiled potatoes. Cover a lid and turn the flame to medium and let it boil until the whole thing becomes thick and starchy.
  • Turn off the stove and garnish with coriander leaves and serve with Rave Idli.


Ingredients for Rava Idli: (makes about 9 medium Idli)

  • 1 cup Semolina/Rava(coarse)
  • 2.5 cups yogurt/curd (sour is preferable)
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger(grated)
  • Coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Salt to taste
  • Seasoning/Tadka
  • 1 tsp Urad dal
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • Asafetida (a pinch)
  • 1-2 Green chillies(finely chopped)
  • 2-3 Curry leaves
  • Oil
  • 10-15 small Cashew pieces (optional)

  • Method for making the Idlis:
    Heat oil in a big pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Now add the curry leaves (cut into pieces), asafetida, urad dal, cashew pieces, green chillies and mix well.
  • Add Semolina/rava slowly to this seasoning and fry until it turns light brown and the aroma waffles through. Keep aside and allow to cool.
  • Take a bowl, add salt and whisk the yogurt.  Add this yogurt to the seasoned semolina mixture in intervals and mix well.
  • Now add baking soda, coriander leaves, and ginger to this and mix again. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.
  • Note: If the batter is thick then add 1-2 Tbsp of water to thin it out.
  • Grease the Idli plates. Add spoonful of the batter to each of the idli plates.
  • Heat water in a pressure cooker and place the idli stand in a pressure cooker and cook covered without the whistle for 10-12 minutes.

Serve hot with a spoonful of ghee, potato saagu and with coconut chutney.

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  1. Jaya Wagle says:

    Supriya, is this same MTR which sells the packaged sambar and rasam masala and come to think of it instant rava idli mix too? I used to make rava idlis with it but now that I have your version, will definitely try it out. The potato sagoo looks good too.

    Jaya, it is indeed the same MTR that sells the pacakged sambhar, rasam powders. In fact, the restaurant MTR built in the 20’s still exists in Bangalore. It still has that old look with no upgrades etc. People still flock to have food there. Of course, we go there too when we are in Bangalore.

  2. Swathi says:


    Rava idli without maida? i will try this version .

    Swathi, as far as I know, rava idli does not have any maida in it, only semolina is used.

  3. pavithra says:

    Oh woooooooooooooooow I love this sooooooooooo much. You know tomm morning i was planning to do this for breakfast. See now I am so much tempted.

  4. Champa says:

    Very nice clicks. I usually make these when we have guests. My kids are funny about the tadka things in the idli. For the same reason, I don’t get to make Uthappam.

  5. CurryLeaf says:

    WOW,Excellent I love this.I am not a regular-idli-lover but Love the rava idli.PERFECT. The sagu recipe is new to me.Mouthwatering RC.Now I know whats tomorrows BFast.Irresistable 😛 😛 😛

  6. Sharmila says:

    Rava idlis are so quick to make and usually so tasty which is why I love them. Will try this aloo sagu with them the next time RC! Much thanks for this combi. 🙂

  7. Bong Mom says:

    I have always made Rava Idli from the MTR packet. Never tried it like this. Looks simple, but a friend was saying hers don’t come out fluffy so I never dared to switch from MTR

    I have been to MTR at B’lore, near Lalbagh it was. Very hyped isn’t it, we had to wait for quiet a while to get in. Food was good and dripping with ghee 🙂

  8. nags says:

    what a combo! wouldn’t have thought of it myself. err.. this is not a popular comb like adai-avial is it? 😀

    Nags, this is a famous combination in Bangalore as the restaurants serve it this way. I am sure I would have not tthought of this myself 🙂 .

  9. Puja says:

    Hmmmm, tried making rava idlis today with idli rava. But the idlis didn’t bind very well, they broke while removing the idlis from the idli plates :-(, no they were not sticking to the plate. The idlis were soft, but they didn’t become fluffy I feel they were not fermented properly. I didn’t add baking soda, instead put the mix for 2 hours b4 making idlis. Could that be the reason? Thanks.

    Thanks Puja for trying this and the feedback. Please note that you need to use Semolina/Rava/Sooji and not Idli Rava for this one. Also the idli do not turn fluffy without the baking soda. There is no need to ferment this. Hope this helps.

  10. Siri says:

    Idli + potato saagu is a new combo for me. Pooro or chapathi + potato curry is such a famous pair that we hardly think of any other combination. Love both.


  11. renuka says:

    yes you are right—on one of my visits to bangalore I visited the famous MTR “”mavalli tiffin room” the wait was long –when we finally were served–this was one of the items the Rava idli with the potaoes. At the time I remember remarking to my husband that this was a strange combination –I had never eaten idlis with potato bhaji before. We had so much food served to us —I had to roll out of there—— I was’nt good for much else that day because I was sooooo full.

  12. redchillies says:

    Thanks Divya for letting me know, I appreciate it.
    I will post comment on their blog, this is not good.

  13. redchillies says:

    Thanks SE for letting me know, I tried to leave comment but looks like my comment did not get through. The nerve people have to copy 🙁

  14. Subashini Basavaraju says:

    I did try this combo Rava Idli and Bombay Sagoo..
    Trust me it was super duper Yummy.;)

    Everybody @ home liked it big time 🙂

  15. KS says:

    The idlis look great, thanks for the post. I do have a question though. When you say a cup of semolina, are you using the standard American cup measure that they use around here or do you have a cup of your desire that you use. This info will much help, thanks.

  16. Deepak says:

    For puffing rava idli you can add eno to the batter just before keeping it in idli plate.rava idly is similar sooji dokla of gujjus.

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