Idli or Dosa is a staple breakfast in any South Indian home. Idli-Dosa batter is a multi-purpose batter that can be found in almost every South Indian refrigerator. The list of breakfast foods/snacks that can be prepared using this batter is too long – Idli, Dosa, Uthappam, Guntha Ponganalu/Appe, and the list goes on and on.
Making Idli-Dosa batter is very simple. It is difficult to make the perfect Idli-Dosa batter for soft and fluffy Idlis. It took a while to learn that, at least for me. The key to get soft and fluffy Idlis is making a perfectly fermented batter.
The key points to remember are:
- Knowing the right proportions of rice and urad dal
- Washing rice and urad dal thoroughly before soaking
- Grinding the batter to a perfect consistency (I use a wet grinder). Batter should not be too runny or too thick
- Using ice cold water to grind the batter so that batter does not get warm while grinding
- Using non- iodized salt
- Mixing the batter with clean hands before fermenting
- Placing the batter in a warm place for a nice and fast fermentation
Fermenting batter is difficult (especially in winter) in colder places like the US. The Instant Pot yogurt function maintains a good fermentation temperature and is helpful (to a certain extent) to achieve nice fermentation of the batter. If you do not have an Instant Pot, you can place the batter in a preheated oven (Just heat the oven to 175 F and turn it off when it reaches that temperature). Make sure the batter container is oven safe. It is tricky to get perfectly fermented batter in the first attempt, but you can get it right with a few attempts. It is not just the recipe that gives the best results, but a little practice and following the key points will definitely give you perfect results. The idlis will turn hard if the batter is not fermented well, but you can still use the batter to prepare dosas.
There are many recipes to make Idli-Dosa batter. My Mom and MIL use different recipes to prepare Idli batter and Dosa batter. They both use Urad dal-Idli Rava to make Idlis and Urad dal-Rice for Dosas. Both of them use different proportions. The use of Idli rava to prepare Idli batter results in coarse textured Idlis, and I like it. For many years, I used to make the batter following my Mom and MIL’s recipes but whenever I prepared Idli batter my kids used to ask me, if they can have Dosa for breakfast and vice versa. Then I came to know about this all-in-one batter recipe from a Tamilian neighbor in the US. I liked this recipe because I can prepare Idli and Dosa using the same batter. I can make Idli or Dosa, whatever my kids ask for. Happy Kids = Happy Mom 🙂 🙂 . I thought my problem was resolved now. Suddenly, my kids started asking me if I can prepare coarse textured idlis using my mom/MIL’s recipe. Sigh! 🙂 🙂
I am sharing a step by step pictorial recipe for the all-in-one/multi-purpose Idli-Dosa batter recipe in this post.
Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 160ml (Rice cooker cup)
Whole Urad Gota (whole urad without skin) – 1 cup
Idli Rice – 4 cups
Fenugreek/Methi seeds – 1 Tsp.
(Actual recipe shared by my neighbor uses 2 Tsp. Fenugreek/Methi seeds. I always use only 1 Tsp. Methi seeds)
Crushed non-iodized salt – 1 Tsp.
In a bowl, add urad dal and fenugreek/methi seeds. Rinse them 3-4 times, until the water runs clear. Soak in enough water. Wash rice until water runs clear. Soak separately in enough water. I usually soak them overnight and prepare the batter in the early morning.
Drain the water from the urad dal. Add 1/4 cup ice cold water in the wet grinder and turn it on. While it is running add the urad dal and grind it for 30 minutes. Add very little ice cold water as needed, while grinding the batter. The batter should not be runny. It should be fluffy. Turn off the wet grinder and transfer the batter to the instant pot insert. It should be around 2 cups (2 cup mark in the insert) after grinding.
Drain the water from the soaked rice. Add 1 cup ice cold water to the wet grinder and turn it on. While it is running add the rice and grind it for 20-30 minutes(I usually grind it for 20 minutes). The batter might need additional 1-2 cups of ice cold water. Add ice cold water gradually, as needed. Transfer the batter to instant pot insert. The batter should be around 7 cup mark in the insert. If it is less than that, add more water in the wet grinder and run it for few seconds. Add this water to the insert.
Add crushed sea salt and mix the batter with clean hand for at least 4-5 minutes. Mixing with hand helps the fermentation process.
Place the insert in the instant pot. Close the instant pot lid. I remove the sealing ring. Steam releasing position can be venting or sealing (it does not matter). Press the ‘Yogurt’ button on instant pot. The default time is 8 hours. Press the ‘+’ button and adjust it to 9 hours. After 9 hours the batter will be fermented. Sometimes it is around 10 cup mark and sometimes it is even more. Unplug the instant pot. I leave the insert in the instant pot for few more hours if I feel that batter needs to ferment more (especially in winter). If the batter has fermented well, I remove the insert. Gently mix the top layer of the batter and the batter is ready to use. Cover it and store it in the refrigerator for later use.
Update(03/24/2017): The batter can be fermented in two ways:
‘Yogurt’ mode on ‘normal’ setting
‘Yogurt’ mode’ on low’ setting.
I experimented with ‘normal’ setting and ‘low’ setting. The batter was successfully fermented with both the settings. I feel that I am getting better results with ‘Yogurt’ mode on ‘low’ setting. You can navigate to ‘low’ setting by pressing ‘Adjust’ button. Press the Plus and Minus button to set the fermentation time.
Few readers who tried this recipe mentioned that, it took longer than 9 hours (around 12-14 hours) for the batter to ferment. If the batter hasn’t fermented in 9 hours, leave it in ‘Yogurt’ (low mode) for few more hours.
To prepare the Idlis, there is no need to add additional water if you have prepared the batter exactly as shown in my recipe.
Idlis come out really soft when prepared with the fresh batter. Usually, Idlis are prepared on the first two days (after fermenting the batter) and the rest of the batter is used to prepare Dosas.
Do not mix the whole batter after fermenting. The top half portion is good to make idlis and the bottom half portion is good to make Dosas. Take the required amount of batter into a separate bowl and add few spoons of water to make Dosas. Dosa batter needs to be slightly thinner than Idli batter.
You can also use a glass lid to close the instant pot in yogurt mode. I have read few Facebook posts, where some people faced the trouble of overflowing fermented batter and the lid getting locked. It never happened to me though.
Here is the procedure to steam Idlis:
Grease Idli plates with oil. Pour the batter in the greased Idli plates. Add 1 cup(250ml) water in the IP insert and let the water come to a boil on saute mode. Cancel saute mode and place the Idli stand and close the lid with sealing ring. Turn the valve in venting position. Steam for 7-8 minutes. Use an external timer. Turn off the IP. Open the lid after 7-8 minutes. Remove the Idli stand and let it cool for 3-4 minutes. Run a butter knife(dipped in water) around the edges of Idlis and use a spoon to remove the Idlis from the Idli plates.
I will share a detailed step by step procedure to make Idlis and Dosas in a separate post.
Enjoy soft and fluffy Idlis, thin and crispy Dosas with your favorite chutney!!!