At the mere sight of a canister filled with idli-dosa batter inside my refrigerator I feel totally relaxed as it helps my meal planning easier. With this multi-purpose batter I can make simple podi dosa when I feel lazy, or treat ourselves with a sumptuous feast, or give a traditional twist to overcome our meal monotony. It is needless to say that this batter is the quintessential stock inside the refrigerator in every South Indian’s home across the globe.
Before moving onto the procedure for making batter let’s look into 3 essential factors for a fail-safe idli-dosa batter preparation:
- Consistency (water requirement)
- Measurement (rice & lentil ratio)
- Time (required for soaking, grinding & fermentation)
Consistency of idli-dos batter:
I feel we need to give utmost importance to the batter consistency particularly for making soft idli because if the water used is less than required, then idli becomes hard; if watery it does not rise above while steaming and become fluffy as shown below:
Measurement for idli batter:
Our grandmothers managed to get the right consistency instinctively as they acquired this knowledge through years of practice. Here I share the measurements after several trials and the successful results:
- The ratio between rice & urad dal for idli-dosa batter is rice : urad dal : salt = 2 cups (400 g) : ½ cup (100 g) : 1 tbsp
- Water required for grinding urad dal is 1:3
- Water required for grinding rice is 1:1
Time required for soaking, grinding and fermentation:
Generally, soaking time of any grain or lentil depends on the growing period of those crops. (ie.) if your legumes take little time to get soaked, or cooked it means they were harvested from early-maturing crop varieties and vice versa. In a thickly populated country like India farmers prefer to grow early-maturing crop varieties than the conventional late-maturing varieties to meet the growing demand. So if you find grains or legumes taking longer time to get soaked or cooked, don’t get annoyed instead thank the farmer for sacrificing his profits considerably by growing traditional crops and continue buying from the same source to support him !
Soaking time of rice & lentils grown here is :
- Lentils – 1 hour
- Rice – 3 hours
- Lentils – 30 min.
- Rice – 20 min
It takes 10 to 12 hours during winter (approx. 20 to 30 deg C), 6 to 8 hours during summer (upto 40 deg C) here; you can adjust the fermentation time according to your climate. You may also speed up the process by an hour by keeping it in a warmer (but not a hot) place.
Idli-dosa batter recipe
- Wet grinder (capacity mentioned by the manufacturer is 2 Ltrs.)
- A bowl for soaking rice
- A bowl for soaking lentil
- A large vessel with a lid for fermentation [with the capacity of 8 Ltrs]
- An air-tight container for refrigeration [I used a good quality Stainless Steel (eco-friendly) canister with the capacity of 5 Ltrs]
Yields: 5 Ltrs
- Idli rice – 6 cups (1200 g)
- Black gram (urad dal/ vellai muzhu ulundhu) – 1½ cup (300 g)
- Fenugreek seeds* (vendhayam) – 1 tbsp (optional)
- Salt – 3 tbsp
* We prefer to add fenugreek seeds during summer and we can soak & grind it along with lentils.
Idli-dosa batter preparation:
There are 3 steps involved in this preparation viz., soaking rice & dal, grinding them and fermenting the batter.
Soaking idli rice & urad dal:
Wash and soak rice & lentils separately in water in the following ratio and we can use the remaining water while grinding lentils, and/or rinsing wet grinder at the end:
- rice : water is 1 : 0.8
- lentil : water is 1 : 2
So I soaked 1200 grams of rice in 1000 ml of water (approx. 80%) for 3 hours and used the remaining 200 ml of water for rinsing the wet grinder after grinding rice. Similarly, I soaked 300 grams of lentils in 600 ml of water for an hour and used the remaining 300 ml of water while grinding lentils.
How to grind idli batter in wet grinder:
- Switch on the clean wet grinder and add lentils along with its soaking water* into it.
- Pour 150 ml of water after 10 minutes and then remaining 150 ml of water in the next 10 minutes.
- You may have to use a broad wooden spatula to turn about the batter every now & then for making it homogeneous.
- Switch off in 30 minutes, remove lentil batter from grinder and gather into a large mixing vessel.
- Turn the power on again and add rice along with its soaking water* into it.
- Allow it to grind into a smooth batter for 20 min.; no need to pour water while grinding rice.
- Add salt just before removing batter and turn off.
- Pour rice batter into the same mixing vessel.
- Finally rinse wet grinder with remaining 200 ml of water by running it for a minute and pour into the batter.
* Since fermentation begins to take place even while soaking rice & lentils, we should not discard it. However soaking them for quite a long time also affects the quality of batter.
Fermentation of idli-dosa batter:
- Mix both rice & lentil batter with hand as the heat from our palm facilitates the fermentation process.
- Keep the vessel covered allowing fermentation to take place and leave it undisturbed for a stipulated time.
- Stir vigorously when done using a ladle for a minute and transfer it to a canister.
- Now the batter is ready to use and can be refrigerated up to 10 days.
Tips for making idli-dosa batter:
- We should not soak rice or lentils in hot water to reduce the soaking time. We can follow this only when they are intended for cooking/ boiling but not for making batter.
- I prefer to add salt into the batter before the fermentation as it also plays a role during fermentation.
- If you leave batter longer than the stipulated time for fermentation, it becomes too sour and may rise up & spill over the vessel.
- Based on the quantity of rice you are planning to use, you may have to select the appropriate mixing vessel, storage container & even wet grinder. I used a mixing vessel (8 Ltrs) & a storage container (5 Ltrs) for 1200 grams of rice; my wet grinder (2 Ltrs. capacity) is just right for grinding 300 grams of lentils not more than that.
- You may treat this recipe as a reference and adjust all your variables accordingly to get the desired batter quality.