It is a speciality of the state of Karnataka in India and the popular restaurant chain, Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR) of Bangalore claims to have invented it. According to Mavalli Tiffin Rooms during World War II, when rice, which is the staple item used in idli, was in short supply, they experimented in making idli using semolina and created rava idli.
Rava-idli translates to semolina-idli in the native Kannada language. It is usually found in restaurants that serve Udupi cuisine. Rava idli is served hot and is to be eaten along with saagu and coconut chutney. A dash of ghee poured on the top of rava idli adds to the overall taste.