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 Kala 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

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!

idli dosa batter in the steel pot of the instant pot
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Indian
Keyword dosa batter, idli batter, idli dosa batter
Servings: 30 idlis
Calories: 111 kcal
Author: Manali
5 from 7 votes
Print

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Now, transfer the  ground rice to the same pot as the dal. Add sendha namak (rock salt) to the rice and dal mixture.

  7. 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.

  8. The consistency of the batter should be free flowing, but it shouldn't be runny. 

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

Recipe 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 Facts
Idli Dosa Batter
Amount Per Serving
Calories 111 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Sodium 157mg 7%
Potassium 28mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 1g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin C 0.3%
Calcium 1.1%
Iron 4.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

72 thoughts on “My go-to Idli Dosa Batter


  1. Hola….What a perfect and detailed recipe.No one can make mistake.Accurate measurements and well described steps.I use same ..and contrary to popular belief,adding salt and few grains of sugar at the time of grinding is right.Whole Udid again gives that flavor.and rightly said..Boiled Rice is must.Very easy process.Incase of no instant pot,then heat some water in oven,remove it and put idli batter in hot oven..shut it and keep it overnight.Warmth of oven helps for good fermentation.In cold climate especially.
    Again, wonderful way and method..

    1. Hi, it’s a good recipe but it’s not the same all over South India. I am from Andhra Pradesh/Telangana. We have separate batter for idly and dosa. You can once try this idly recipe as well. Use idly ravva or idly semolina. Ratio is 1:3 dal to semolina. Rest all same. The results are always good for me and idly taste good and will be like sponge to touch. Do not add fenugreek for this idly batter.

  2. Hi – I follow the same method and try to place the batter container next to my room heater for fermentation. It ferments perfectly well but the raise in volume which I notice on the next day of fermentation completely goes down and the batter becomes thick and hard on the second or third day. Is there a way to avoid this?

  3. Ice cold water is required for grounding especially
    Urad dual, because when the Grinder or Mixer becomes hot, we would not get fluffy urad dhal dough. So, always use ice cold water to grind Urad dhal, to get maximum dough. Most importantly, while grinding Dhal, Initially,add very little water to the dhal. After a few minutes, say after 5 ms of grinding, when the dhal turns into dough stage, add little water gradually while grinding… At one stage, say after some 15 ms, we would be left with white and fluffy dhal dough, then water should not be added to the dough, for the next 15 ms. ONLY THE WET GRINDER WOULD HELP TO PRODUCE BEST RESULTS IN THIS PROCEDURE..Thanks…

  4. Hi I am from Malaysia. Can you teach me to make a tasty coconut Chutney which is like in hotels. I have tried many recipes but I still cant get the real taste of coconut chutney. Please help. Thank you.

    1. because I wanted to write about all my trials so that it could help everyone. There’s a “jump to recipe” button at the top. Please click on that if you don’t want to read the post and go straight to recipe.


  5. Great work. One small suggestion: I’m here at NJ and I have heard many horror stories from users on Instant Pot. I will personally avoid Instant Pot fermentation. The hassle of overflow is so much. You don’t want to spoil Instant Pot for this. Use with caution (even with glass lid). Or make sure you give enough space for the batter to raise during the fermentation process in the Instant Pot container.

  6. When I was living in Muscat in the 90s somebody suggested adding a cup of cooked rice while grinding the rice for idlies. That really helped in better fermentation!!!

  7. Job well done. Thank you for such detailed receipe. I am also from new delhi and now live in bc canada fro last 24 years. I love south indian food. And have been researching on making perfect dosas for many many years. I will try IP method as it is also very cold in surrey bc.

  8. Excellent! Your step by step instruction with pictures are absolutely very helpful.
    In one word, it is a perfect cooking instructions for preparing the Southern foods are amazing. Thank you for sharing your cooking talent and share your time with us.
    I look forward for having more tips of successful cooking from you.
    All the best.

  9. To make it ferment in one night of time, u can place a red chilli(break it into two halves) on top of the flour! I live in Canada and that’s my trick for fermenting mine!

  10. I followed interestingly the preparation for dosa batter .Thank you for the effort you took in the course of educating us systematically, after experimenting the more correct finnal suitable recipe.

    1. I have mentioned in the recipe, I use a glass lid. I don’t prefer using the Instant Pot lid since sometimes the batter can overflow and that can lock the lid and cause problems. So better to use a regular lid.

      1. Oh! I missed out. Thanks, I made the batter with regular rice, i didn’t have parboiled rice & turned out really well in instant pot! Thanks

  11. Finally I got success in making idli…
    Thank you so much…….. I don’t know how many will say the amount of water to be used…….it helped me……thank you so much…………

      1. I live in Maryland (Close to washington DC) I am at 13 hours now still no fermentation. 🙁 i am not sure what to do with all the batter :/

        1. Did you add enough water? and mixed batter with your hands? Place a lid and set the yogurt button again for 2-3 hours. It can take more time, so much depends on the weather. Was your dal old? Did you try testing for the fermentation? Take a bowl of water and drop some batter into it- if it floats means it’s done. And even if it hasn’t fermented completely, you can still make dosa with the batter. It should be okay!

          1. thank you! I’ll try that. My dal and idli rice i bought fresh day before yesterday from the store.

          2. you can also add grated carrot, onion, cilantro, green chili, ginger to the batter and make paniyaram if you have appe pan. or add it to waffle maker and make waffle dosa/utthapam.

  12. that’s a great idea…. I am going to try putting it in the preheated oven for 4 hrs or so. Thank you for answering my questions. I am not sure what happened…I am having people over for dosa/idli tonight let’s hope it works lol

    1. hmm not sure what happened either. I just made the batter again yesterday and fermented in my IP with the same recipe and it turned out great. I hope it works..fingers crossed for you!

      1. The dosa’s were amazing. Idli was too hard. I will try again next weekend…can you give me a smaller measurement? do i just cut it in 1/2?

        1. yes cut in half everything…I often make half batch…and I guess batter wasn’t fermented well hence idlis were hard else 1:4 is a pretty standard ratio for idlis..do try again

          1. Hey Manali, How long will this dosa batter keep in the fridge? I am starting the process now and want to make dosa on Saturday morning. Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Hey Manali……I can’t just thank you enough for this blog! 3rd attempt I got it right ,idli ,dosa, paddy ….all came out fabulous. Really appreciate your effort which is so helpful to people like me. You are awesome.

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