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Idli-Dosa Batter – Fermenting batter using Instant Pot

Idli-Dosa Batter  –                                                   Fermenting batter using Instant Pot

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:

  1. Knowing the right proportions of rice and urad dal
  2. Washing rice and urad dal thoroughly before soaking
  3. Grinding the batter to a perfect consistency (I use a wet grinder). Batter should not be too runny or too thick
  4. Using ice cold water to grind the batter so that batter does not get warm while grinding
  5. Using non- iodized salt
  6. Mixing the batter with clean hands before fermenting
  7. 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.

Ingredients:

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.

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Procedure:

Step 1:

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.

Step 2:

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.

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Step 3:

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.

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Step 4:

Add crushed sea salt and mix the batter with clean hand for at least 4-5 minutes. Mixing with hand helps the fermentation process.

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 Step 5:

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.

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Notes:

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!!!



64 thoughts on “Idli-Dosa Batter – Fermenting batter using Instant Pot”

  • Well explained post, as you say, Idli/dosa making does come with experience. I can finally make some now. I remember how disastrous they were in the beginning 😀

    • They can be done with brown rice but the color of the Idlis will be light brown. I like my Idlis white. I know that some people have made them successfully with brown rice. Some of them have used a combination of idli rice and brown rice.

  • Hello
    I tried the technique of fermenting in IP as explained here.. Batter feemented amazingly and Idlies came out amazingly soft.. thank u so much!

    • The batter has raised so it is a good indication that it fermented well. If you want the batter to turn sour, you need to leave the batter at room temperature for few more hours.Do not refrigerate. It might rise even more too.

  • Thank you for the step by step guide to making idli batter in the IP. I can’t tell you how useful this has been for me! The batter fermented in the IP. Took a little longer than the 9 hrs but it worked! Also, your measurement of how much water to add really helped, and made me realize I had been using less water in the past. Thank you!

  • Hi. When I switch IP to yogurt mode, it first seems to switch to “Boil” and starts heating the batter. How do you ensure it doesn’t cook the batter? Thanks!

    • Press ‘Yogurt’ button and then press ‘Adjust’ button. You can navigate to ‘low’ setting or ‘normal’setting or ‘Boil’ setting by pressing ‘Adjust’ button. You can ensure that the batter is not cooked by keeping it in ‘normal’ or ‘low’ setting in ‘Yogurt’ mode. Press the Plus or Minus button to set the fermentation time.

  • Very useful…i was fermenting in the oven and is coming out well. I use the idli plates in my instant pot in steam mode but the idlis turn out hard 🙁 Not sure what is causing this….should i leave in venting mode? I guess your next post on making idlis using instant pot will be an eye opener 🙂

    • Thank you!! I am glad you found it useful. 🙂 Yes, you need to steam the idlis in IP in venting mode for 10 minutes with a manual external timer. My Idli stand doesn’t fit in my instant pot. I steam idlis in my Idli Cooker and they come out really soft. Next time, I will use only the idli plates without the stand and make them in instant pot and make a blog post.

  • Any update by chance on making idlis in the Instant Pot? I want to find the perfect settings, and am finding my results to be a bit more dense than I prefer. My most recent try was boiling 1 cup water on sautée mode while filling idli molds, then setting IP on steaming at 10 minutes in sealed position, then quick release after the pressure has built. It was just ok… I can’t wait to hear your results! Thank you!

    • Rina, I haven’t tried steaming with the Instant Pot, until today. I didn’t have an Idli stand that fits in my IP. Yesterday, I found a mini Idli stand in my kitchen shelves and I had freshly prepared, perfectly fermented batter at home. I tried steaming the batter in IP after seeing your message this morning. I just replicated the same method that I use with my Idli steamer. Idlis were soft and fluffy.
      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 5-6 minutes. Remove the Idli stand and let it cool for 1-2 minutes. Run a butter knife(dipped in wate)r around the edges of Idlis and use a spoon to remove the Idlis from the Idli plates. Hope this helps. Let me know if it works for you.

      • Thank you so much for your super quick response! Ok, I will follow your instructions step by step. I have an 8qt IP and have a 6 layer stand for idlis that fit perfectly. Fingers crossed that the timings will work equally well for me. Thank you again!

  • Hi – thank you for your detail post. I did everything and at 8:30 hour mark my batter did not yet ferment. Its still at the 7 cup mark. I am keeping it in for another couple of hours or should I for the whole day? Have to go to work. Hopefully it doesn’t over flow while I am away.

    • Isha, You can ferment the batter for another couple of hours in IP. I would not suggest you to do it for the whole day. The batter will be over fermented and it might over flow.

  • what proportion to take if using split urad dal and idli rava. Can we use basmati rice instead or idli rice or idli rava and in what ratio. Thanks much!

  • I am impressed with your approach on the water quantity. I read many posts but no one explained the main secret about water and total batter quantity.

    I use idli rava for idlis, can you please post the same process for idlis

    Thank You in Advance

    • Thank you so much. The consistency of the batter plays an important role in the fermentation process. I am so glad you noticed the details. 🙂 I will try to post the recipe with urad dal and Idli Rava as soon as possible.

  • I used 1 cup split urad dal and 2 cups idli rice before. Tried twice to ferment in IP but batter didn’t ferment even a little bit. Will try your recipe now, fingers crossed. No idea why I could never get batter to ferment 🙁

  • Hi .. What is the size of your IP in which you fermented the idli batter?
    I have a 6 qt IP Lux60 model, which does not have the ‘Yogurt’ setting. Is my IP unusable for fermenting idli batter because there is no yogurt setting and also because it’s size is small at 6 qt instead of 8 qt?

  • I don’t have a wet grinder. Can I use my food processor instead to grind the batter? Will the food processor be better than a blender for grinding it?

    • Some readers used blender(vitamix) and successfully fermented the batter in IP, with this recipe. You can use few ice cubes while grinding the batter in the blender, so that batter doesn’t heat up. I do not recommend using Food processor for this recipe. I always use wet grinder. Batter will be smooth, airy and fluffy when you use wet grinder.

    • No. It takes less than a minute to grind the batter in Vitamix. You can use smoothie setting to grind the batter. Add ice cubes along with urad dal, so that the batter doesn’t become hot. Also mix the batter(for 5-7 minutes) with clean hand, to incorporate air in the batter. I do not use Vitamix to make the batter but these tips might be helpful to you.

  • Hi..
    We are a South Indian family of 4 people (2 adults and 2 kids).I find three sizes online – 3 quarts,6 quarts and 8 quarts.Please recommend the right size for Instant pot, I am considering using the pot for dosa and idli batter fermentation along with pressure cooking,steaming and rice cooking options.

  • Forgot to mention I use this recipe – 1 cup (rice cooker cup) urad dal, 4 cups idli rice, 1/2 cup sago (sabudana), 1 tsp methi seeds,1/4 tsp baking soda for fluffy idlies.You can try fermenting it in IP 🙂

    • The recipe shared by you is very similar to ‘Mallige Idli’ recipe. The recipe shared in my post is a multi purpose Idli/Dosa batter. Same batter can be used to make soft Idlis, crispy Dosas, Uthappam, Appe and many more dishes.

  • Thanks for your wonderful recipe I do not know what went wrong I grinder the batter in my Preeti mixer with ice cold water but with half the amount u mentioned for everything . What happens is I see a layer thick on top of my dosa batter last time when I did in oven and now also when I did in instant pot ?? can u pls tell what did I do wrong I stay in Seattle and weather is cold here

    • Welcome! I always use wet grinder. The possible reasons for the thick top layer could be: 1.Fermenting the batter for(too long)more than 12-14 hours. 2. There is too much warmth than needed. If you are using yogurt normal mode, try using yogurt low mode. 3. The consistency of the batter might be too thick. Hope this helps.

  • Hi – can I use the ‘warm’ button to ferment the batter? I dont have an IP with yogurt option… pls let me know.

    • Warm button heats up the batter. It doesn’t work. Please do not use it. Instead, you can place the Instant Pot steel insert(with the batter) in the preheated oven(Do not forget to turn off the oven after it is preheated). I have shared the details in the post. Cover the steel insert with a stainless steel plate. Line the oven rack with aluminum foil before placing the batter. Just in case if the batter overflows after fermenting, this will save you from the hassle of cleaning the oven.

  • Hi.
    I soaked the urad dal and idli rice and fermented the batter in instant pot as mentioned. But there was a strange smell in my batter. I dont know what I’m doing wrong. The smell persists even in the cooked idlis. Please let me know what I’m doing wrong. Thank you!

    • Dhivya, The batter should have fermented smell but it shouldn’t have an unpleasant smell. I think that the batter was fermented for too long. Did you use yogurt low mode? Did you remove the sealing ring? Did you wash urad dal and rice 2-3 times before soaking them? How long was the batter left in the instant pot? Please discard the batter if it has a strange smell. It might have gone bad. The batter might have fermented earlier than the expected time(in 7-8 hours), since the weather is getting warmer. It needs to be refrigerated after it is fermented.

      • Thanks for the quick response! I fermented in ‘normal’ mode. And yes I used to wash the urad dal and idli rice twice or thrice before soaking it. I used to set the timer to 9 hours since it wouldn’t ferment in less than 9 hours. And I used iodized salt since i don’t have non-iodized salt. Is that the problem? And how to remove the sealing ring?

    • Sumedha, You can add 1 cup quinoa and 3 cups rice or 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups rice. You can totally skip the rice and add 2 cups quinoa. The recipe shared in this post is the traditional South Indian version of making Idli/dosa batter.

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