My go-to Idli Dosa Batter

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 35 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: 28mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 0.7mg
Keyword dosa batter, idli batter, idli dosa batter
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookwithmanali or tag #cookwithmanali!

294 thoughts on “My go-to Idli Dosa Batter

  1. Hi…can I know why it has to be ice cold water when blend the rice & dal? I have tried making idli batter with other recipe before, however I realised my batter turned our very sourish and when cooked it taste too sourish. Could it be spoiled?

    1. cold water so that the blender doesn’t heat up too much while grinding. If it’s too sourish, batter might be over-fermented, try fermenting for less time next time. It all depends on the weather and where you live.

        1. Hi Manali, I am in Vancouver and I have brown basmati, white basmati and parboiled rice( which variety no idea) so can I use all these three rice in my Dosa recipe?

  2. Hi Manali. I have tried fermenting idli/dosa batter in oven and also in instant pot. However, I noticed that the batter doesn’t rise.

    I used cold water, tried 1:2 and 1:3 (dal:rice) ratio. But still no success for the batter to rise. I am using Laxmi ponni rice and 24 Mantra urad gota.

    I am also adding fenugreek seeds, poha and himalayan pink salt.

    Any idea why the batter doesn’t rise ?

    Thanks
    Archana

    1. hmm is your dal old? are you mixing the salt using your hands? Also make sure salt is non-iodide. Is your batter too thick? try adding more water and see, a super thick batter doesn’t ferment in my opinion, should have a nice flowing consistency. And lastly could be that you just need to keep it for more time, every place is different. Maybe it will ferment for you in 16 hours or 18 hours. Try again!

  3. Hi can u tell me how to make idli with idli rava..and udad daal…?i have made idli with the help of your recipe and it’s turned out really very well…. but now I have idli rava with me…wanted to know the proportions of the rawa and daal
    Thnx

  4. Hi Manali,

    Thank you for sharing this detailed post. I have tried 1:2 and 1:4 ratios for making idli and dosa batter. I do soak the dal with fenugreek seeds. I grind them in a small wet grinder. But even after like 24 hours, the batter doesn’t double in quantity, although it rises a little bit and smells sour. The idli turns out soft but the dosa doesn’t have tiny holes in it when I spread the batter on the pan. I have a couple of questions, if you would be kind enough to direct me in the right direction.

    1. Do you think the quality of the idli rice and urad dal both matter or just the urad dal? Also, I don’t know how old the dal is because the packet never mentioned any dates.

    2. Should the consistency of the rice be smooth or slightly course? The wet grinder I have doesn’t completely make it smooth even after adding a decent amount of water.

    3. I always add salt after the batter has fermented. Do you think that plays a major factor? I live in NJ.

    Thank you so much!

    1. 1:4 , 1:3 or 1:2 should all ferment, I have tried all. It doesn’t have to double in volume for should be frothy and bubbly at the top. Do the water bowl test- drop some batter in a bowl of water, if it floats it means it’s fermented. I used my blendtec and the consistency of rice is always little coarse, never completely smooth. I would recommend adding salt (non-iodine like rock salt/sendha namak) before fermentation and mix with hands for 2 minutes and then put it to ferment. See if that makes a difference.

      1. Thank you for the suggestions! Also, how old should the urad dal be? Sometimes it’s hard to tell without any dates on packages.

  5. Thanks for the recipe!
    If the batter rises does it mean it’s fermented, or are they not exactly the same?

    Once risen/fermented, do we keep in the fridge for a while before using or can use immediately?

    Also, once risen/fermented, should we mix/stir it?

    Last question: the fermented test. Is it one drop in a full bowl of (cold?) water or..?

    Sorry for all the questions.
    Thanks again!

    1. a fermented batter will rise and become bubbly and frothy at top.

      you can use immediately, store leftover in fridge.

      yes stir the batter.

      cold or warm water doesn’t matter. use regular room temperature water and the batter should float in it.

  6. My idlis did not rise up when I cooked them. Not sure what I did wrong, I followed the recipe. They are squishy but spread apart.

  7. I am a South Indian and even I dont know whether I will be able to give these many details on batter preparation.Kudos to such an amazing explanation.🤝🤝

  8. What happens if the batter is little thin (little less than runny but more liquidy than expected) after grinding? Will it ferment?

  9. 5 stars
    This is a wonderful recipe. It turned out to be perfect. It’s summer here in Colorado and the batter fermented without the need for an oven.

  10. If the idli batter is fermented can we used next day . I kept it in refregitator without adding salt it will remain good or not

  11. Today night I will be grinding the dal rice.. but I want to make idlis for lunch . So what should I do ? In the morning after the batter is already risen.. can I keep it in fridge and then take out an hour before making the idlis?

  12. Hi Manali,
    I tried your recipe and the batter rose fantastically. Please tell me how can I STORE the leftover batter that I have already fermented.
    1. Do I stir out the air from the batter and then put in a tight lidded container? Or does it go straight into the fridge?
    2. When I cook again, do I need to put the batter outside the fridge to make it room temperature before cooking?
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    1. You can stir out the air no problem and then place in the fridge or place it like that- it will not matter.
      Yes usually I take out the batter from the fridge and let it come to room temperature for a bit and then cook with it.

  13. Thanks for the amazing recipes as well the tips!Making dosa is not a challlenge any longer😊
    Can u plz guide on how can the fermented idli batter be stored To make idlis the next day?
    Thanks

    1. first make sure the batter isn’t too thick, a super thick batter doesn’t ferment in my experience. So, add little water if that’s the case and let it ferment, give it couple of more hours, it will ferment. And if not, you can always make dosa and uttapams out of this, idlis will be hard if the batter doesn’t ferment but dosa should be good!

  14. Very nice explaination. Even m north indian. I tried batter with 1:3 ratio. Did everything correctly but my batter didnt rise after 12hrs of fermentation. I live in mumbai. And monsoons here.dont know 2hrs enough ir not for fermentation . I made idlis. Those were tasty but little hard and nonfluffy. Next time i will try 1:4ratio

  15. Hi Manali,

    Love your recipes so much & very excited to try this one!

    I just wanted to ask about using the IP to ferment. I don’t have a glass lid, is using the regular (locking) IP lid okay for this recipe or is it not?

    Thanks!
    Lauren

  16. Hi, thanks for the great recipe. My batter is all frothy and bubbly at top but when I do the water and drop test, it floats only for a second and then drops. Do I need to keep it longer?

    Thanks

  17. Good recipe, love the details!

    Just a tip… If in a western country it might not be the cold environment that prevents fermentation. It could be chlorinated water that kills off the micro-bios that cause fermentation to happen.

    1. Maybe this is my problem! How do you go about circumventing this? Leave some water to air out before gridding the batter, or blend and soak with bottled water?

  18. Hi Manali I tried your Idli dosa batter and it came out amazing. I did not use the instant pot to ferment. I used my oven. I am having 13 people over on Saturday …do you know how
    Much batter i would need approximately? Do you have any other tips that will ensure that the batter is perfect in large quantity?

  19. While making dosa please let me know the level of gas medium or high? and for every dosa should we sprinkle little water on the tava and then use the tava or girdle?

  20. 5 stars
    I am from Patna Bihar. In my family dosa idli was one of the biggest challenges for me n my mom. After so many failed attempts fortunately I got ur recipe n tried..yesterday when I made super crispy dosa n soft authentic idli everyone in my family was amazed to see n eat..n was having a whale of a time..lots of love to u fr the detailed n wonderful recipe❤❤❤❤

  21. Hi Manali! Always impressed with how detailed your recipes are !
    Idlees came out perfect. Used the smoothie cycle for urad . It was magic! The rice took a little longer. I think I will give it two smoothie cycles ! How long do you run your blend tech for grinding the rice ? I use a 3500 Vitamix . Thanks and keep up the great work !

  22. 5 stars
    Probably the best idli recipe I have come across, besides my grandmother’s in Kerala. I live in chilly Minnesota and I ground the batter in my Vitamix (smoothie setting) last night, then set it in a 200 degree pre-warmed oven, overnight. I also cranked the oven door slightly open and so the oven light stayed on all night. This morning, I wrapped the pot with a couple of kitchen towels and left it in the oven with the door shut. It rose slightly. This evening I again warmed the oven to 200 degrees shut it off and left the pot in without wrapping it. Within an hour, the batter had risen and was overflowing slightly. Took it out, stirred it up and made the most incredible idlis! They were pillowy soft and easy to eat 6 at a time! The highest outside temperature here yesterday was 27 degrees F and today it was 30 degrees F. I think the oven really helped. The big tip you recommend in your recipe of mixing the batter with your hand for 2 mins really does the trick. I remember watching my mother and aunts doing this to speed up the fermentation process. Thank you for this sure keeper recipe 🙏🏽

  23. 5 stars
    Hey Manali, This recipe works perfectly for me. Thanks for all the tips for first timers!

    I live in Colorado so the batter rises well during summer even when I just leave it outside. Do you think during winter if I leave it inside the rice cooker under the option keep warm, it would work similar to an instant pot?

    1. hmm I don’t have a rice cooker so I can’t say. And keeping warm might be too warm for the batter. The IP uses yogurt button which just maintains the perfect temperature so batters ferments beautifully.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating