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 27 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!

211 thoughts on “My go-to Idli Dosa Batter

  1. 5 stars
    golden words of advice there! I am a south Indian and was very disappointed about my dosa batter experiments (live in a cold place). Eating dosa/idli was such a common aspect during my childhood. Now thanks to your tips, I tried this again and it worked! I made the same mistake – not adding enough water.
    I also used the same water of urad dal. I also ensure that my batter comes up to at least half in the vessel. Earlier I used to store in a vessel such that it used to be only 2 inches in the vessel. And the extremely thick batter did not help. Followed your advice, and got the best batter ever! I only used oven light (no preheating)

      1. Hey Manali ,u have mentioned to grind rice into a smooth paste ,how smooth shd it be ? Like idli rawa or even smoother ?

  2. 5 stars
    I am so happy to read the pre recepie notes!!I am a gujju,and love to make Food as much as you.My stiff competition is with readymade idli dough 🤣and children insisted i quit from my homemade idli ventures😀😀.Your foreword about your experiences with the recepie has been so morale boosting for me!!🙏🏼

    1. 5 stars
      My idli batter is fermented well and good to use for the first time.. But for the next time the idli becomes rubbery..I don’t know how to store the fermented batter. Please suggest me some tips… I live in Boston which is cold place..

      1. There’s no special technique to store batter, I only cover with a cling sheet and store in the refrigerator. When you have to make idlis, take the batter out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before making idlis. Once batter if fermented well, idlis should always come out soft.

          1. it’s a good idea to take out the batter from the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for a bit and then make idlis (if it has been in the fridge).

  3. Hi Manali,

    For how long can the batter be stored in the fridge? Asking because the quantities mentioned are for a kilo of batter which usually can be consumed over a whole week in our household. Thanks.

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you so much Manali for a super awesome recipe. My first attempt was a super duper hit. Daughter says this batter makes plain dosa also delicious. Followed your recipe to the ‘T’

  5. Hey Manali… I tried my hand at the batter for the first time and it turned out wonderful .. the instructions mentioned are to the point which can help any amateur to cook like a pro.. will surely try this one and other recipe of yours ..❤️

  6. I followed the recipe. My idols are not coming up. They are flat. I think the batter sims thin after fermentation. Is there anything I can add ow to make it a little thicker

    1. you can add idli rava. But you can still use the batter to make nice dosas and utthapam. If you idlis are flat, it means the batter didn’t ferment well. Use the batter to make dosa and utthapam now.

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I come from a punjabi family where we only eat south indian food at restaurants just like you. My mom never made batter at home and told us it was too much of a work.

    It was my first time to make batter and my dosa’s turned out to be the best dosas i ever had. I shared your recipe with my mom and her sisters and they are on the go to try it.

    The recipe is well detailed and to the point. Instant pot does wonders. Thanks once again. Couldn’t be happier😇

  8. 5 stars
    Thanks for the detailed recipe, many minute details mentioned which I was not aware of. Managed to get soft idlis in many years. Doesn’t seem like a big chore any more,
    My family wants me to make the batter again!! Thanks.

  9. 5 stars
    Thank you! I’ve always bought dosa batter from outside till you know – we weren’t allowed to go out anymore 🙈 And I was forced to make some at home as my kids love their dosas and idlis. And this comes out wonderfully for both. I would recommend however using salt even in warmer climes as my batter didn’t rise without it the first time. Thanks again Manali ❤️

  10. This recipe is wonderful- I’d tried a different one before and it didn’t turn out. Thanks for explaining things so well!. My batter got so fluffy. I also tried the Sambar recipe and that was delicious!

  11. Thanks for the recipe. Mom has been my supply for dosa batter but I want to surprise her:). What can I do if my IP doesn’t ha e yoghurt function?

  12. Hi,
    Thank you for providing a detailed explanation! I have never tried making a batter at home. I only have white split urad dal. Would that work? Thanks

  13. This was brilliant! This recipe worked the best of all recipes I have tried. It is such a great breakfast option in the current scenario when I am unable to get the ready batter from store.

  14. 5 stars *****
    Excellent in explaining and giving experienced and reliable and valuable information about idli and disappear batter
    Dr. V. V. Appa Rao

    1. Excellent in explaining and giving experienced and reliable and valuable information about idli and dosa batter preparation
      I liked this article. You explained correct ratio of dal and rice and also regarding salt also some amount of salt should be added preior to fermentation because it gives strength to yeast cells and if some amount of citric acid is added it is beneficial because fermenting yeast needs some acidic environment like 4 to 5.5 pH.
      It can be rated as 5 stars *****.
      Dr. V. V. Appa Rao

  15. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this. It has been very very helpful and I made it twice in a few days!!!

    I have a question. The size of the instant pot that you are using is a 6 Qt or an 8 Qt container?

    The reason I’m asking is because your batter seemed to have risen almost to the top of the container and I’m wondering if I should froth it that much – I have stopped at smaller fermentation than that.

    Thank you once again for sharing this super useful recipe.

  16. Great job, thanks for sharing.
    I’m a North Indian guy living in New York. I tried it in April, worked out perfectly. But the amount of rice and dal mentioned here is way too much for a single person.
    How long is the batter good when kept in fridge?

    1. you can cut the recipe in half easily, stays good in the fridge for 5-7 days. And I know that some people also freeze their batter, so that’s another option. Though I have not tried it.

  17. Hi Manali, I have one question, sorry. From the post is clear to me how to make idli, but not how to make dosa. Did you write it and I missed it? Thanks!!

      1. Thanks Manali. My idlis turned out super soft. I always used the readymade batter for idlis and dosas . I am definitely not going back to it. This is the perfect recipe 👍👍👍

  18. Hi Manali – if the batter has been in the fridge, do you need to bring it to room temperature before making idlies, or is it good to go straight out of the fridge? Also, how thick should the batter be for idlies?

    1. yes let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes then make idlis. And batter should be same as the batter that was fermented. You don’t add any water after fermentation. Just directly use it to make idlis.

  19. Hi Manali,

    Thanks for the lovely recipe. Read questions by others but confused whether the fermented batter can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or before fermentation the extra one as the quantity of the recipe is large to finish in a day

  20. 5 stars
    OMG Manali you r GOD sent . My idles came out so so soft and fluffy that my husband and my daughter were all AWW . Delicious . I also made tomato chutney and sambar . Thank you so much your TIPS and advice were spot on . I cannot thank you enough . I am going to be making idles again this weekend . God Bless.

  21. Hi Manali,

    I made the batter per your instructions. Since I didn’t have the idli rice and couldn’t go out due to lockdown, I used the basmati sela rice. I added the methi seeds while soaking and poha while grinding. I fermented it overnight in the yogurt mode in the Instant pot. I tested it for fermentation by dropping a some batter in cold water and it did rise. But when I try making the dosa it scatters like the rava dosa and sticks to the tava. I have tried it on a non stick pan as well as the cast iron tava but get the same results. I am not sure what is going wrong?
    Please help.

    1. I am not sure, since sticking of the dosa shouldn’t have anything to do with the batter but with the tawa. Maintain your pan heat, grease it well and try. Batter cannot be the reason for sticking. If batter looks too thick, you can try adding some water.

  22. Hi Manali,
    Thanks for sharing your recipe. I finally gave it a try after having saved it off FB. Must say the batter came out good. I am glad I came across your recipe and decided to give it a try. I have been using the store bought batter and sometimes it would be over fermented. With this quick and handy recipe, I can see myself making dosa batter more often.

    Thanks
    Shweta

  23. 5 stars
    I was always confused between the ratio of dal and rice 🥺
    You gave a perfect guideline !! 😊
    Thank You So Much !!

  24. 5 stars
    I was craving idli and the local Indian shop was sold out of pre-made batter so I decided to try making my own! I followed the recipe exactly (thank you for including what setting on your Blendtec!!). This morning, after 10 hours, the batter hadn’t fermented. I probably should’ve given it a bit more time since I live in the Midwest, but I was impatient so I added about 1/2 teaspoon of banking soda and mixed it with about a tablespoon of Greek yogurt then stirred it in to the batter. An hour later and the batter was perfect! My idli came out fluffy and delicious! Tomorrow… will be trying to make my first dosa.

  25. Thank you Manali,
    I finally made yum dosas for my family From your recipe. Thank you for sharing tips on different ingredients used.
    I felt so good that finally I have learnt to make dosa. God bless. Stay safe and take care.

    Warm Regards
    Aparna.

  26. 5 stars
    Can’t believe….such nice batter can be done at home too. Your recipe really works like a charm.
    I tried twice and it worked well both the time. Sent some batter to my friends as well and they were happy too. Dosas and idlis both turned out perfect.
    Thank you so much!

  27. dough is not fermenting. it has been in the oven at 90 degrees F overnight. Any suggestions? It may be too thin? can I ‘cheat’ and try adding a pinch of yeast?

    1. No, I will wait some more time. Batter needs more time to ferment. If you followed the water measurements exactly then the batter shouldn’t be too thin, it shouldn’t be too thick either.

  28. Hi i used idli rice but it did not grind well. It’s still very grainy. I ground it in a mixi for about 10 mins total but it’s still very course. I’ve never used idli rice before. Am I doing something wrong? How can I get the mixture to grind well?

  29. Hi Manali, I followed your recipe (great tips, by the way!) and after 14 hours in the Instant Pot on Yoghurt mode (Low), the batter has risen, maybe even doubled but it hasn’t fermented. I dropped a bit in water and it didn’t float. I’ve left it in there for longer now and but worried it might turn sour. Any suggestions? Congratulations on your book, I will pave preordering it soon!

  30. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for such a detailed, precise, and fool proof receipe, Manali! The Idli came out just perfectly and all of thought it was so tasty- even better than our local restaurant!!

  31. Hi,
    Tried the recipe and kept in instapot for fermenting but:
    1) I did not have glass lid so used the usual lid.
    2) Batter stuck to bottom of steel inner instapot and of course did not rise🙄
    3) now in oven with light on.

    1. 1) glass lid or another lid should not matter here.
      2) I am not sure what happened, I make my batter every other week with this recipe and it works like a charm every single time. Maybe you should try fermenting it pot-in-pot next time with IP.
      3) hope it works!

  32. Hi Manali , thanks for the detailed recipe 🙂 I am from Hyderabad and we use idli rava you make idli . I never mage idly with idly rice and want to try that after seeing your recipe , can you suggest me any good brand of idly rice which you use .

  33. 5 stars
    Hi Manali
    Very nice and perfect recipe today tried it,and dosa was awesome. My husband likes dosa very much so I always try different recipe,this came out excellent. Thanks
    Manali Sakhawalkar

  34. Thank you for the recipe.😊
    My idlis were super soft but they were flat. I checked the batter by dropping it in water. Not sure what went wrong.:(

    1. not sure, if your batter fermented well, they should be have been fluffy…this is a basic idli recipe so I don’t know what went wrong, maybe you added more water than needed, next time try with less water. Amount of water can vary depending on the quality of rice and dal used.

  35. I followed this recipe word to word, but neither Dosas nor Idlees turned out to be ok. The batter fermented well, but Dosas were too sticky and Idlees didnt cook well. We finally added a lit of Rava to it and made Uttapams from it. I think 1:4 rice:udad dal ratio is too much rice. I generally take 1:2 and it turns out ok.

    1. Sorry it didn’t work for you but this is a very basic ratio which works for me (and so many others) every single time. So no the ratio is not wrong. I make this every other week and would not share the recipe if it didn’t work. So many have made it successfully following the recipe as you can see in the comments. Thanks for trying.

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