Iku Rice Balls

Iku Rice Balls

Vegan & School Friendly Lunchbox Recipe

I miss Iku!

After 5 years of island living there have been many things from my hometown I miss.  Fortunately home is not too far away so a couple of times a year I can get some fixes.

Here in Singapore, food type fixes I can usually sort out for myself.

For instance, the coffee I like has been finally been sourced here in Singapore and is firmly ensconced in our kitchen, thanks to a steady supply of fruits year round I can make Black Star’s Watermelon & Strawberry cake, GF Precinct bread is now being imported, Barambah yoghurt is readily available along with their milk range, desirable coconut yoghurt is only a click away and decent gluten free sausages are no longer a Miss Marple mystery in Singapore.  Life’s great, but today I miss Iku.

Iku is a small chain of macro whole food catering stores in Sydney, they started in 1985 in the hippest of suburbs, Glebe. All food is plant based and gluten free apart from the buns used in the macro burgers and tarts.

I love their salads and the special dressings but most of all I miss their rice and millet balls.

So with thoughts rolling around to Monday’s school lunchbox, and the amount of requests we get for vegan or just ‘egg and nut free’ school lunches.. I’m sorting out 3 problems in one.  Without further adieu I give my version of the Iku ball.

Iku Style Rice & Quinoa Lunchbox Balls

Vegan and school friendly lunchbox recipe

Course: Lunchbox, Snack
Cuisine: Australian
Servings: 16 Balls
Author: Tabitha
  • 1 carrot medium size finely diced
  • 3 stalks of celery finely diced
  • 1 generous bunch of flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds soaked for 1/2 hour warm water
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups cooked brown rice and quinoa
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/3 cup tamari
  • salt and black pepper
  • oil for frying or baking
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds for rolling
  • Water for wetting hands when rolling
  1. Prepare rice and quinoa as per your preferred cooking method.
  2. Chop carrot and celery quite small and mix into a bowl with cooked rice.
  3. Drain sunflower seeds and add to mix
  4. Add ginger, garlic, sesame oil, tamari, chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. You can either leave chunky and mix with a spoon or add to food processor and pulse for 1 to 2 minutes, for a slightly smoother mix.
  6. With wet hands, mix further like you would dough.
  7. Prepare a bowl of water next to you to keep hands wet for shaping, this will stop rice mix sticking to your hands. Pour out sesame seeds onto a plate.
  8. Make into balls by scooping a tablespoon of the mix into your wet hands shapely firmly into a ball.
  9. Roll in sesame seeds, coating entirely, and set aside on a lined tray or plate.
  10. Pop the rice balls in the fridge for a couple of hours before cooking, it will help hold the shape when cooking.
  11. Either shallow fry these in about 2cm of vegetable oil, turning as the seeds in the oil turn golden or bake, pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

  12. For baking, brush the balls lightly in sesame or veggie oil. Bake for about half an hour or until the crust gets coloured.
Recipe Notes

Frying will produce a crunchy darker outside crust with softer middle, baking will be less crunchy, lighter in colour but still tasty. Serve with salad, or hummus or coconut chutney. Can be served cold for children lunch box or shaped into burger type pattie for a roll. Sweet potato, diced tofu and herbs could also be added.

Iku Inspired Salad Dressing
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 generous handful parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 orange juiced
  • 1/3 cup Japanese rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Pulse in food processor until smooth. 

  2. Will produce a fairly thick salad dressing, more like a dip, you can thin down with vinegar, oil or citrus juice to your desired taste.
Recipe Notes

Keeps well in airtight jar in the fridge.

about the author

This fabulous recipe was developed, tested and photographed by Tabitha Millington.  Tabitha  has lived in Singapore for almost five years in gluten free house with a celiac daughter and a dairy free daughter.  She is an avid baker and always game for improving a recipe and adapting it for life in Singapore.



  1. Teresa August 23, 2017 at 11:49 am

    These look great Tabitha. Have you ever swapped the rice / quinoa for Lentils? Just wondering if it might still work.

    • 1°GF August 23, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      Although we have not done it, it should work fine. You would want to be sure to lentils that are not mushy and only use 50% lentils and either rice or quinoa for other half.

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