Here is my trusted go-to idli dosa batter recipe! This simple recipe will guide you every step of the way to make the perfect idli dosa batter! See tips on the ratio of rice to dal, what to soak, how long to soak, tips on how to grind and ferment batter, and idli dosa batter consistency!
Look, I get it. Why bother with the whole rigmarole when packets of readymade idli dosa batter are easily available in the supermarket!
Felt this way? I was part of this club too. But then I moved to Bangalore and tasted idlis and dosas that were made with batter from scratch and it's life-changing!
THE TEXTURE IS UNPARALLELED!
And it's incredibly EASY to make! With my homemade idli dosa batter, idlis are soft and spongy, and my dosas are crisper than ever!
Also it’s super comforting to know each and every ingredient that’s gone into the batter, unlike store bought stuff.
Most recipes have a common batter for idlis and dosas, but with some trial and error, I've realised that two additional ingredients in your dosa batter makes dosas extra crispy.
Here’s a list of ingredients you’ll need and why they are added.
Ingredients in Idli Dosa Batter
- Idli rice or Short grain parboiled rice - Use ‘Idli Rice’ which is basically parboiled short grained rice for best results. If you are in a pinch, sona masoori which is another variety of short grained rice can also be used
- Urad Dal or Skinned Whole Black Gram - Urad Dal is used in batter for that creamy, airy texture. Skinned whole or skinned split urad dal work
- Rice Poha or Flattened Rice - Makes idlis softer
- Cooked Rice: I forgot to add this while shooting this video, but this is another ingredient that produces really soft idlis
- Methi Seeds or Fenugreek Seeds - Aids the fermentation process and adds to the taste too. A little goes a long way
- Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) and Chana Dal (Split Chickpeas) - These are separately ground and mixed to make dosa batter. They make the dosas thin and crispy. They are not used in Idli batter
The common ingredients which make up the base of the batter are rice, urad dal, methi seeds and poha. These are soaked together and used to make idlis.
To get really crispy dosas, we soak two additional lentils - chana dal and toor dal. This step is slightly uncommon, but it adds an amazing texture to dosas and makes them extra crispy.
Ratio of Rice to Dal
The ideal ratio of idli rice to urad dal is 4:1. I arrived at this ratio after a lot of testing, and have seen results that this ratio makes the softest idlis.
A higher ratio of urad dal will still produce good results, but the idlis tend to get slightly denser. It doesn't make any noticeable difference to dosas.
The consistency should be slightly grainy when rubbed between your fingers, ribbon like when poured, flowing but not runny.
The process of making idli dosa batter takes about 20 minutes each day over two days. Here’s the timeline that you can follow.
DAY 1 (Morning) - Washing and Soaking
Washing the rice and lentils removes dust and impurities from the grains, and excess starch from the rice. Rub them between your fingers as you wash, and rinse in clean water 3-4 times till the water starts running almost clean. Soak the rice and lentils in clean water. They should be completely submerged and have 2 inches of water over them. Soaking the lentils makes it easy to grind and makes the batter nice and fluffy which is very essential for the texture.
DAY 1 (Evening) - Grinding, Fermenting - Which is the best blender to grind Idli Dosa Batter
While our ancestors used those massive stone grinders to make idli dosa batter, things are way easier now.
Richa Recommends: I use a blender and mixer grinder at home. In the video I’ve used a Nutribullet but my favourite is the Sujata Dynamix Mixer Grinder. The disadvantage of using a mixer grinder is that it heats up the batter as it grinds, which is not ideal. To keep the batter from heating up, I use ice cold water while grinding.
If you make idlis and dosas frequently, I highly recommend using an electrical wet grinder which produces a light, fluffy batter without heating it up. The disadvantage is that they take up more counter space and are quite big and bulky.
To keep the batter from heating up while grinding, the trick is to use ice cold water.
Once you’ve ground the lentils into idli batter and dosa batter, it’s time to let science work its magic on them.
I transfer the batter into 2 big vessels (separately for idli and dosa), cover them and keep them aside overnight. Idli dosa batter needs to have an environmental temperature of approximately 25-26 degrees C to ferment perfectly. If you live in a country with tropical weather, chances are that your batter will be fermented and ready in 10 to 12 hours. In a relatively colder place, the batter will take longer to ferment.
How To Ferment Idli Dosa Batter in Cold Weather
If you live in a cold country, here’s a hack to ensure your batter ferments. The trick is to warm up the oven to 80 - 90 degree C, turn it off, cover and place the batter inside the oven overnight. The idea is to keep it warm and snug so it ferments.
Always use a large vessel to ferment idli dosa batter which should be double the capacity of the batter so that there’s enough room for the batter to rise.
How To Tell If The Batter Is Fermented
- The batter will expand and almost double in size as it ferments.
- When you mix the batter, you should be able to see tiny air bubbles in the batter (watch the video to see how fermented batter looks). It should look and feel frothy and airy
- The batter should smell mildly yeasty or sour
- If the batter smells very sour or smells bad, then it may have over fermented or gone bad. Unfortunately, there's no coming back from this, so make sure the batter doesn't get over fermented!
DAY 2 (Morning) - Using or Storing
Once it’s fermented, the batter is ready for use!
If using later, store the batter in the refrigerator. You can use the batter as and when required and then refrigerate it again. Make sure you use it up in 3 to 4 days. The batter continues to sour while it's refrigerated.
Freezing Idli Dosa Batter: You can also put the batter in ziplock pouches and freeze it for later use. This will remain fresh for about 3-4 weeks. Before using, remove from the freezer and keep it at room temperature to thaw it.
What Equipment Should I Use To Make Idlis & Dosas?
For Idlis: You can make idlis in an idli stand in a regular Idli steamer. Alternatively, you can also place the idli stand inside a pressure cooker without using the whistle. If you don't have an Idli stand - no worries! You can make idlis in greased steel tumblers that can withstand high heat!
For Dosas: A well-seasoned cast iron tawa or pan is the best for making dosas. A cast iron tawa will last you a lifetime, but keep it exclusively for making dosas and uttapams. A non-stick tawa is an easier alternative. I prefer the cast iron tawa because it heats up evenly, it stays hot for longer and the dosas come out extra crispy. Non-stick pans tend to overheat faster and spreading the dosas can become difficult after a while.
Top Tips to make the best Idlis & Dosas
- Avoid over fermentation: Make sure the batter is not left out at room temperature for too long, or it may over ferment. The optimal time in tropical weather like India is 10-12 hours, but in colder places it can take up to 24 hours.
- Season the batter: Always season the batter before using. Season the dosa batter with salt and sugar. Season idli batter with salt and you are good to go!
- Test Dosa: Make a test dosa before making the rest of the dosas. Spread the batter thin for crispy dosas, and thick for soft and fluffy dosas!
- Grease: Grease the Idli stand or steel tumblers with ghee or oil before pouring the batter into it, or they will stick to the edges and crumble when you demould them.
Also check out our Sambar Recipe which shows you how to make amazing Sambar from store bought sambar masala
More South Indian Recipes:
- Coconut Rice
- Easy Lemon Rice
- Kerala Mutton Stew
- Mangalorean Fish Fry
- Mushroom Pepper Fry
- South Indian Egg Curry
- Mangalorean Ripe Mango Curry
Watch How to Make Idli Dosa Batter Recipe Video
Disclaimer: I forgot to add the soaked poha and cooked rice to the blender while grinding the batter in the video. I know - really stupid! But these are included in the step by step pictures above, and in the written recipe card below.
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Perfect Idli Dosa Batter
Common Idli Dosa Batter
- 2 Cups Idli Rice or parboiled rice
- ½ Cup Urad Dal
- ¼ Cup Poha or flattened rice
- ¼ Cup Cooked Rice
- 1 Tablespoon Methi Seeds Fenugreek seeds
- 2 - 2 ½ Cups Ice Cold Water
Additional Ingredients for Dosa
- 2 Tablespoons Toor Dal
- 2 Tablespoons Chana Dal
- 1 ¾ Teaspoon Salt divided
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar used in dosa batter
- 1 tablespoon Ghee or Oil plus extra for dosas
Day 1 - Morning
- Bowl 1: Wash and soak idli rice, urad dal, poha and methi seeds in a large bowl. Ensure there is at least 1 inch extra water above the rice and dal mix.
- Bowl 2: For the dosa batter, soak the toor dal and chana dal in a separate bowl and keep aside. Soak for about 8-12 hours.
Day 1 - Evening
- Once the grains have soaked for about 8 hours, drain the excess water from both the bowls and keep aside.
- Grind the idli rice urad dal mix in Bowl 1 till almost smooth with approx 1 ¾ to 2 cups ice cold water adding additional water if required. The consistency should be such that it can leave a thick coat on the back of a spoon and falls in a ribbon like consistency when poured with a ladle.
- Divide the batter by half and transfer into two separate bowls. Ensure they are divided into exactly two halves. One bowl is the idli batter and one bowl is the dosa batter.
- Grind the toor dal and chana dal mix in bowl 2 with a few tablespoons of water into a smooth batter. Add this to one of the bowls and mix well. This is the dosa batter bowl and the other one without the toor dal and chana dal mix is the idli batter.
- Cover both bowls and set aside to ferment. Leave it in a warm, dry place away from direct sunlight to ferment. Fermentation takes anywhere between 12-24 hours. The time varies depending on the humidity and warmth of a place.
- Once fermented, the batter should have almost doubled with a slight dome shape and a wrinkle, bubbly layer on top. You should be able to smell sourness in the batter. This smell means it has fermented. If it is too sour, it has fermented too much! To check, you can also put a spoon into the batter - the texture should be frothy with air bubbles.
Day 2 - Morning or Afternoon
- Add ¾ teaspoon salt to the idli batter and mix well.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt and sugar to the dosa batter and mix well.
- To make idlis, grease the idli plates with oil and pour batter into each crevice till its almost full. Arrange the plates onto the idli rack and place in a steamer with a cup of water. Steam for 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes and use a spoon to remove the idlis from the idli plate. Serve hot along with ghee, sambar and chutney!
- To make dosas, heat a non-stick tawa or a seasoned cast iron dosa tawa over medium heat. Once hot, sprinkle some water (the water should immediately sizzle) and wipe the pan clean. Pour one ladle of dosa batter and spread it by using the back of the ladle, moving it in concentric circles to form a big round dosa.
- Drizzle a spoon or two of oil or ghee around the edges and in the center, and let this roast for 1-2 minutes till golden brown. Then flip it over and roast for 30-seconds. Flip it back, fold and serve hot!
- Serve hot along with some sambar and chutney!