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Instant Quinoa Idli - Vegan & Gluten-Free

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Healthy instant Quinoa idli. No fermentation required, no addition of semolina, rice flour, or daal required. Pure Superfood, Gluten-free, Vegan, delicious recipe to add to your collection.

Quinoa in recent years has become a common ingredient of my family's daily diet. Mainly due to its high nutritional value and fibre. Quinoa is one of the few plant-based foods considered to provide complete protein sources.

Skip to recipe Instant Quinoa Idli - Vegan & Gluten-free or continue reading for tips and stages of making the recipe

Photo: White Quinoa

Do not mistake Millet (Bajra, Jowar, Ragi) with Quinoa. They look similar but they are not the same. Millets are grains while Quinoa although called "Mother grain" is actually a pseudo-cereal or seed. Both millet and quinoa are gluten-free, high in protein and fibre. Excellent in controlling diabetes and weight. The major nutritional difference between them is their amino acid profiles – quinoa is a complete protein whereas millet is not. Quinoa provides all the 9 essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own. These amino acids are vital to help our body with various processes such as building muscle and regulating immune function.

Quinoa comes in three varieties - white, black, and red. The white variant has a light and fluffy texture when cooked whereas the other types have a slightly nuttier and richer taste compared to its regular, earthy taste.

I use white organic quinoa in my Quinoani (Quinoa Biryani) recipe. Check out this recipe for a hearty meal infused with aromatic spices. Whilst in my Quinoa Sweet Potato Salad recipe, I use tricolour organic quinoa to get that extra nutty flavour. Take a look at this recipe if you feel like having something lite but filling, nourishing and flavoursome. I am certain you will love it.

You must be wondering which quinoa do we use for idli and do we add any other flour or pulse to make soft spongy idli? Let me put you out of misery.

There are many quinoa idli recipes out there that use semolina or rice flour or daal (lentils) or all but in my recipe, I use only quinoa to make the most of the quinoa goodness mentioned above and also to keep it gluten-free. Not only this, but I will also be showing you how to make it super soft and spongy without soaking it overnight or fermenting. How good it is that!?

All you need is Quinoa coarsely ground into flour and a few common ingredients found in every K(Q)itchen.

Quinoa flour, water, Himalayan pink salt (or any other cooking salt), lemon juice, Baking Soda (Meetha Soda) and citric acid (fruit salt or powdered Nimbu Phool)

Stages of Making - 5 Simple steps

1. Coarsely ground quinoa

2. Mix quinoa flour, water, and salt to taste. Look at the consistency of the batter. Thick but flowy not runny.

3. Pour Lemon Juice. Add Eno (Mixed baking soda and citric acid) over the lemon juice. Eno starts frothing. Quickly stir the frothing mixture through the batter to make batter airy and fluffy.

4. Grease Idli patram (mould). Pour frothed up quinoa idli batter into idli steaming tray. Stack the idli trays. Place the stack in a steamer (cooker with boiling water in the base) and cover it with lid (without pressure whistle). Steam for 12 to 14 mins.

5. After 12-14 mins, open the steamer lid. Check idli is cooked by inserting a knife in the centre of the idli and it comes out clean. Remove the idli patram stack from steamer and lay it sideways to drain excess water and to cool idli for 5 mins. Scoop idli using a blunt knife or butter knife by running it along the round edges of idli and gradually moving towards the centre under the idli. Idli should demould easily.

How do we know the idli is cooked perfectly?

Always insert a knife or skewer in the centre of the idli (not the sides) and insert it all the way to the base of the idli and pull. If the knife or skewer comes out clean, then it is done cooking. If the knife or skewer comes out sticky with wet crumbs attached, then the idli needs more steaming time. Place the lid back and cook further for a few minutes more.

What if you have slightly over steamed the idli?

Don't worry, if you steam idli a little extra, it will not overcook. You will still get spongy, soft, and steaming hot idli.

But, if the idlis are left too long in the steamer then you may run into two issues. First, water may completely evaporate, and the steamer will no longer be a steamer it will become an oven and the idlis will bake hard. Second, if water hasn't evaporated then chances are that idlis may become soggy.

What if you do not have eno powder?

To make 1 tsp eno, mix 1/2 tsp baking soda (Meetha soda) and 1/2 tsp citric acid (powdered Nimbo Phool)

What are the crucial tips to keep in mind when making instant quinoa idli?

There are few key points to keep a note of while making instant quinoa idli.

Quinoa flour texture: Quinoa flour texture should be like fine semolina. Do not ground it to a fine powder.

Frothing: Frothing helps in making idli spongy. When lemon juice is added to the quinoa batter make sure to pour all of it in one spot to make a puddle. Then add eno (mix of baking soda and citric acid) into the lemon juice puddle. Eno reacts with the acid of lemon juice to bubble. Here on you have to be quick with mixing the batter, pouring it in idli patram, and placing it in the steamer.

If you leave the frothed up batter out for long then the batter will go flat and so will the idli.

Water level in the steamer: Water level in the steamer should be at the height where it just below idli param. If the water touches the patram then the idlis will be laden with water.

Steamer / Cooker lid: Do not place whistle on the steamer/cooker lid or else idlis will pressure cook instead of steaming.

Making large batches: If you want to make a large number of idlis then I would suggest making them in batches. Make only that much batter at a time that your idli patram can hold for one steaming session. This is because any leftover frothed batter will go flat and cannot be used to make idli.

My recipe makes 16 medium size idlis in a patram that stacks 4 plates with 4 idli mould in each plate. If you have a smaller idli patram then reduce the recipe quantity proportionately and for larger idli patram.

How to reheat idli?

Do not reheat idlis in the microwave. It dries up idlis and not that pleasant to taste. Instead, place idlis in the perforated tray that can fit in the steamer and steam for 5 mins. Voila! Idlis will be warm and fresh as though just made. Use this trick when hosting a party. Make idlis ahead of time and simply re-steam them.

Final result

Look at those tiny air pockets beautifully trapped in idlis making them fluffy and bouncy. Can't wait to dunk them in delicious warm spicy sambar and relish it.

Simple yet elegant. Lite yet full of nutrients. Perfect for breakfast or lunch or even dinner.

What are you waiting for?

Stock up on quinoa and get cracking. Make super easy, spongy, and soft quinoa idli that fits most of the dietary requirements. Be it Jain, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, Nut-free, or Dairy-Free.

Recipe link below


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