My go-to Idli Dosa Batter

Step by step process to make Idli Dosa Batter at home! This no fail recipe will make sure you master the technique in no time!
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My go-to Idli Dosa Batter! This batter makes soft and spongy idlis and crispy dosa.

The batter is made in a high speed blender like blendtec and fermented in the Instant Pot.

idli dosa batter in the steel pot of the instant pot

I have been meaning to share this post for so long, like really long.

Few weeks back, I shared the entire process of making Idli Dosa batter on my Instagram stories and it received an overwhelming response.

I got so many requests to write a blog post about it and well here I am. Sorry for the delay but better late than never I guess?

This is my go to Idli Dosa Batter and I make it all the time.

I grew up in north India where Idli and Dosa are not a everyday thing. Indian food is very versatile and what people in the north eat is very different from what people in south eat which is again very different from what people in east eat.

You get the drift? In the western world, Indian food = curry + naan.

That’s so far from reality. Like really really far.

Anyway, so because I grew up in north India, my mom did not make idli and dosa at home.

For those who don’t know, idli is a steamed cake made with a rice and lentil fermented batter. The same batter is also used to make a crepe called dosa which is often filled with spicy potato filling among many other things.

For us, eating South Indian food was mostly restricted to restaurants. And once in a while when dosa was made at a home, it was always from store bought batter.

I don’t ever remember mom making the batter at home. Of course this is not to say that every North Indian house must be same. But I would say it would hold true for majority.

So when I started cooking, I had zero knowledge about south Indian cooking.

At least I had seen mom make all the parathas and dals etc. all the time. But I had no clue how idli and dosa were made.

After reading so many tutorials online, I started experimenting. And this was around 3 to 4 years ago.

I can’t tell you the number of times I failed. I would follow the recipe to the “T” but my batter won’t ferment.

Because I failed so much, I learnt a lot too. Isn’t that’s how it always is? You always learn from your failures.

Slowly, I started getting a hang of it and also realized the mistakes that I was making.

And once I started using my Instant Pot to ferment the batter, there was no looking back!

How to Make the Perfect Idli Dosa Batter

I am going to share with you guys all that I have learnt through trials and errors all these years in getting my Idli Dosa batter right.

And I will also try and answer all the frequently asked questions! So let’s go!

Ratio of Dal to Rice

Ahh, the most important question. What should be the ratio of dal to rice for making idlis and dosa.

I have tried a lot. I have done 1:2, 1:1, 1:3 (dal to rice) but the one that works the best for me is 1:4!

So, for every 1 cup of dal, I use 4 cups of rice. This ratio works for both idli and dosa.

Which Rice to use 

I highly recommend using Idli Rice here, which is a variety of short-grain parboiled rice. You can find it at any Indian grocery store.

Short to medium grain rice work best for this recipe. I wouldn’t recommend using long grain basmati rice for this recipe.

You can use par boiled sona masoori or ponni rice too.

Which Dal to use

Black gram or urad dal is what is used in making this batter.

Dehusked Whole urad dal works best here (urad dal gota). You can also use split urad dal (urad dal dhuli).

Adding fenugreek (methi)

I always add some fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) to the batter.

It helps in fermentation. And it also helps in giving the dosa a nice brown color.

How much water to use to grind the batter?

Okay, when I didn’t know how to make the batter, I read several recipes online and a lot of them asked to add little water while grinding.

The result was that I always ended up adding way too little water to my batter.

I thought the batter need to be thick which is not the case at all.

The batter should have a nice flowing consistency (it should not be runny though). Add enough water to grind the batter and don’t be scared to add water like I was!

For 1/2 cup dal, I usually add around 1/2 to 3/4 cup water to grind.

For 2 cups rice, I usually add around 3/4 to 1 cup water to grind.

The amount of water will depend on the type of rice/dal you use.

To add salt before or after fermentation

There are conflicting thoughts on this.

My personal experience is to add the salt before fermentation.

Maybe, it’s because I live in a cold place. I have never made this batter in India but if I was, I probably won’t add salt before fermentation.

But here in Seattle, I always do as I feel it helps in fermentation.

And I always use Sendha Namak (Rock Salt). The regular salt with iodine might interfere with fermentation process and hence better to use a non-iodized salt.

Mixing the batter with clean hands

Once you have ground the dal and rice, you mix them together with clean hands.

I usually mix using my hands for good 2 minutes.

Trust me, it makes a difference. Mixing with hands helps in the fermentation process so don’t skip this step.

idli dosa batter in the steel pot of the instant pot

Frequently Asked Questions

Which blender to use to grind the dal and rice

Wet grinder is traditionally used.

However, I just use my Blendtec. Any high speed blender will do.

On my blendtec, I usually press the smoothie button or the soup button.

How to ferment the batter

The batter needs warm place in order to ferment.

If you live in a warm place, you can leave the batter on the counter and it will ferment.

However, if you live in a cold place like I do.

You either place the batter in the oven with the oven lights on.

Or use your Instant Pot!

Ever since I have got my Instant Pot, I always use it to ferment my batter.

It gives consistent results. So, I just place the batter in the pot, cover with a glass lid and press the yogurt button.

How long it takes for the batter to ferment?

Now, that would depend on where you live.

Warm places, it might ferment in 6 to 8 hours.

Usually here in Seattle, it takes around 12 to 13 hours to ferment.

Why not soak dal rice together?

So, when I posted the Instagram stories, I had several people ask why not soak the dal and rice together?

I mean it will be just more convenient right?

Well the reason is that rice and dal have different texture.

You want the dal to have a fluffy texture which is important for idlis. And you can’t achieve that if you soak and grind the dal together with the rice.

For this reason, it needs to be grind separately. However, if you are only going to make dosa, then you may soak and grind them together.

two crisp dosa served in a steel plate along with sambar and coconut chutney

How to know if batter has fermented?

The batter will obviously increase in volume.

You would see bubbles on top and it will be all frothy.

Another great way to check-  take water in a bowl and then drop some batter into it.

The batter should float, which means its light, airy and fermented and ready to make idlis!

If it hasn’t fermented, let it ferment for some more time.

Okay guys, I hope that was helpful. I have tried to cover everything I could think of.

If there are any more questions, please leave them in the comments section below and I will try to get back as soon as possible.

 

 

Method

1- Rinse the dal under running water.

2- Then soak the dal in enough water (2-3 cups) for around 5 to 6 hours.  Add 1 teaspoon methi seeds to the dal while it’s soaking.

3- Rinse the rice under running water until water turns clear.

4- Then soak the rice in enough water for around 5 to 6 hours, same time as the dal.

step by step picture collage of making idli dosa batter

5- After 5 to 6 hours have passed, drain the water from the dal.  Transfer the dal to the blender (or any grinder that you use).

6- Add 1.25 (10 oz) to 1.5 (12 oz) cups ice cold water and grind the dal to a fine paste. I use my blendtec and press the smoothie or soup button usually.

7- Transfer the ground dal to the steel pot of your Instant Pot (if using IP to ferment the batter) or to any other large container.

8- Now drain the rice and add it to the same blender along with 1.5 (12 oz) to 2 cups (16 oz) ice cold water.

The amount of water will depend on the type of rice/dal you use. So, start with lesser amount and add more water as needed.

step by step picture collage of making idli dosa batter

9- Grind rice to a smooth paste.

10- Now, transfer the  ground rice to the same pot as the dal.

11- Add sendha namak (rock salt) to the rice and dal mixture.

12- Now, start using your hands and mix the salt and the batter together for 1-2 minutes using your hands. Mixing by hands help in fermentation process.

step by step picture collage of making idli dosa batter

13- The consistency of the batter should be free flowing, but it shouldn’t be runny.

14- Now cover the pot with a glass lid (if using Instant Pot) or with any other lid if using regular container. The reason I use glass lid for fermenting the batter in Instant Pot and not it’s regular lid is because the batter may overflow and that can lock the lid.

So it’s better to use a glass lid.

15- If using Instant Pot for fermentation, now press the Yogurt button. Increase the time to 12-14 hours. The time will depend on where you live. Here it takes around 12-14 hours for the batter to ferment.

If not using an Instant Pot, cover the container and place in an oven with lights on (especially if you live in a cold place). If you live in a very warm place, then simply keep the batter on the counter to ferment.

16- After 14 hours, my batter was well fermented and ready to make idlis! It had increased in volume and was frothy and bubbly.

To check you can also drop a small drop of batter in a bowl with clean water. The batter should float which means it’s fermented. If not then it needs more time for fermentation.

step by step picture collage of making idli dosa batter

Now the idli dosa batter is ready to make Idli and Dosa!

idli dosa batter in a steel pot with a ladle

To make idli: grease idli plates and then fill them with the batter. Steam in a steamer for 10 to 12 minutes on high heat or in an Instant Pot for 13 mins with pressure valve in venting position (with 1 cup water in the pot to generate steam).

Please note that when IP is in venting position, it doesn’t display the time, so use an external timer.

Cool for a minute or two and take idlis out of plates. Serve with sambar and coconut chutney.

Also make crisp dosa with the same batter!

If you’ve tried this Idli Dosa Batter Recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe! You can also follow me on FacebookInstagram to see what’s latest in my kitchen!

Idli Dosa Batter

idli dosa batter in the steel pot of the instant pot
Manali
Step by step process to make Idli Dosa Batter at home! This no fail recipe will make sure you master the technique in no time!
5 from 54 votes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Indian
Servings 30 idlis
Calories 111 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup urad dal 200 grams, I use urad dal gota (whole deshusked black gram)
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 4 cups idli rice 800 grams
  • 2 teaspoons sendha namak rock salt

Instructions
 

  • Rinse the urad dal under running water. Then soak the dal in enough water (2-3 cups) for around 5 to 6 hours.  Add 1 teaspoon methi seeds to the dal while it's soaking.
  • Rinse the rice under running water until water turns clear. Then soak the rice in enough water for around 5 to 6 hours, same time as the dal.
  • After 5 to 6 hours have passed, drain the water from the dal.  Transfer the dal to the blender (or any grinder that you use).
  • Add 1.25 (10 oz) to 1.5 cups (12 oz) ice cold water and grind the dal to a fine paste. I use my blendtec and press the smoothie or soup button usually.
    Transfer the ground dal to the steel pot of your Instant Pot (if using IP to ferment the batter) or to any other large container.
  • Now drain the rice and add it to the same blender along with 1.5 (12 oz) to 2 cups (16 oz) ice cold water. Grind rice to a smooth paste. The amount of water will depend on the type of rice/dal you use. So, start with lesser amount and add more water as needed.
  • Now, transfer the  ground rice to the same pot as the dal. Add sendha namak (rock salt) to the rice and dal mixture.
  • Now, start using your hands and mix the salt and the batter together for 1-2 minutes using your hands. Mixing by hands help in fermentation process.
  • The consistency of the batter should be free flowing, but it shouldn't be runny. 
  • Now cover the pot with a glass lid (if using Instant Pot) or with any other lid if using regular container. The reason I use glass lid for fermenting the batter in Instant Pot and not it's regular lid is because the batter may overflow and that can lock the lid. So it's better to use a glass lid.
  • If using Instant Pot for fermentation, now press the Yogurt button. Increase the time to 12-14 hours. The time will depend on where you live. Here it takes around 12-14 hours for the batter to ferment.
    If not using an Instant Pot, cover the container and place in an oven with lights on (especially if you live in a cold place). If you live in a very warm place, then simply keep the batter on the counter to ferment.
  • After 14 hours, my batter was well fermented. It had increased in volume and was frothy and bubbly. 
    To check you can also drop a small drop of batter in a bowl with clean water. The batter should float which means it's fermented. If not then it needs more time for fermentation.
    You can now use this idli dosa batter to make soft idli and crisp dosa!
  • To make idli: grease idli plates and then fill them with the batter. Steam in a steamer for 10 to 12 minutes on high heat or in an Instant Pot for 13 mins with pressure valve in venting position (with 1 cup water in the pot to generate steam).
    Please note that when IP is in venting position, it doesn't display the time, so use an external timer.
    Cool for a minute or two and take idlis out of plates. Serve with sambar and coconut chutney.
    Also make crisp dosa with the same batter!

Notes

  1. Please do read all my tips and FAQs in the post before you attempt to make this recipe. Especially if you are new to making idli dosa batter, do not skip reading the post.
  2. Some people also add poha to the batter. You may if you want, add around 3 tablespoons poha and grind it along with the rice. 

Nutrition

Calories: 111kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 3gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 157mgPotassium: 29mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookwithmanali or tag #cookwithmanali!

363 thoughts on “My go-to Idli Dosa Batter

  1. Which model of Blendtec do you use? My grinder has quit and I am thinking of buying a blender instead, and I am trying to decide between the Vitamix and the Blendtec. Thanks in advance.

  2. hello,

    I have never made idli or dosa, but I have an idli steamer, and I’ve decided to have a go! BUT, where does the yeast come from? Some say the fenugreek seeds, but have you any other ideas?

    1. Hello Bryan, it’s the yeast that’s present in the environment. Just like we make sourdough, same concept. Batter gets fermented from the yeast that’s present everywhere 🙂 fenugreek seeds aid in fermentation but they are not the one the causes fermentation.

  3. For the ratio 4/ 1 which size of ip should be used 6qt or 8 qt as I am scared if it ferments and comes out of the sides.
    Thank you

    1. I have a 6qt and it works just fine. Please use a glass lid and not the regular lid of Instant Pot so that even if it over-ferments the Instant Pot doesn’t get locked.

  4. Hi Manali, thanks for the detailed recipe. At what point do you grind and add fenugreek seeds to the ground batter?

  5. 5 stars
    Dear Manali, thank you so much for this recipe. I’ve travelled in Southern India and never forgot the taste of a idli/dosa/sambar breakfast. I’d never thought that I could make this myself but yes, it is possible and with your easy to follow recipe I brought memories and the taste of authentic Southern India cuisine back right into my kitchen in Europe. It is fantastic that now I can make this whenever I feel like. It increases my life quality! Thank you so much, I will definitely also try the samosa recipe and many many more!

  6. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe and it’s worked every time we try it. Any storage tips for the batter? Fridge is ok? We usually don’t have any left to store, but if I needed to make a bigger batch, I may have left overs

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