Monday, June 18, 2012

Idli Dosa Batter

I've been throwing tantrums at home for the past few months insisting there is something wrong with the idli/dosa batter mom has been buying. The inside of the dosas are always a little wet and uncooked for some odd reason. In a final showdown, I won with my mother finally agreeing to make idli dosa batter at home. Now its not such a big deal, ever since I can remember idli/dosa batter was always made at home. I'm not sure what happened, but once I moved overseas and returned, mom must have just gotten lazy, although she insists its because she needs Surti parboiled rice (old), and that can only be procured at Matunga (she insists) and she simply hasn't had a chance to go buy some. My mother always buys her rice from Chedda Stores in Matunga.

All said and done, we made a trip to Matunga, got the rice, removed the wet grinder from storage and set to work. The recipe we use is my grandmother's. Originally from Tricchur - Kerala, my grandmother lived in Mumbai since before Independance, so her recipe is very much suited to batter making in Mumbai. It has always yielded the yummiest, fluffiest idlis in the world !

Today we had idlis with Karela (bitter gourd) Sambhar and red chilly coconut chutney.

Our Wet Grinder- its been through enough wear and it shows.

The inside of a wet grinder. Look at all that stone, it ensures not even a grain of rice will slip through.

Thathi's original Idli batter

3 cups Surti parboiled rice (old)
1 cup black gram dal - spilt and washed (so its basically white urad dal)
Salt to taste

A Wet Grinder 

Separately soak the rice and dal overnight with enough water so as to cover all the rice and dal.
The next morning drain the water from the rice and dal.
Put the rice and dal in a wet grinder, with a cup of water. Switch the machine on and let it grind away.
Keep adding water as needed so that you get a nice thick batter. Be careful that the batter doesnt get too thin otherwise you can only make dosas with it. 
The batter should be extremely fine and not grainy at all, this takes about an hour in the wet grinder.

Pour the batter into a bowl.
Cover with a muslin cloth and keep it ovenight, preferably in a nice warm place, so that the batter can ferment well. In mumbai and other coastal reagions the batter takes about 8-12 to fermen well. However if you are in a colder region or at a higher altitude then this can take longer. 

Once the batter is nice and fermented - you can make your idlis. If you want to make dosas with this batter, just pour the required amount in another bowl and thin it out with water.

The final idli batter should look like this.

Idli batter differs from family to family, you need to find what is locally available and works for you.
They key to a fluffy idli is the fermentation, which is harder to acheive in the cold, and at higher altitudes. A good way to kickstart the wild yeast is to stir you batter by hand. Also try keeping the batter in the oven, with the light on (the oven should be off though).
Some people put a tbsp or two of methi seeds in the batter, to make idlis fluffier. Because we are on the coast, we never needed to add them.
Another trick to get fluffy idlis is to line your steamer with a damp muslin cloth. Works like a charm.
Some people make their batter in the mixer, I think this worth a try if you don't want to invest in a wet grinder. Whatever you do, don't add baking soda to your idlis, that just awful.


  1. i bring those mtr idlis. they work okay but nothing like the authentic idlis.. these look like fluffy cotton balls. oh do share that coconut chutney recipe. it looks yum.

    and moms are always the best. they are finicky about a few things but it always work. :))

    1. Heee heee will definitely share the recipe for the coconut chutney. Its actually just like regular coconut chutney, only with dried red chillies instead of green :D
      I used to use the MTR mix when I was in Aus. Its ok, but im too spoilt with these yummy idlis so then I just stopped eating idli dosas only. Same with upma.

      I love mom ke nuskhe :D :D :D

  2. gr8 way.. definitely worth a try.. lemme c how it turns out with me.. i dint understand how to line the steamer with the cloth.. do your mean insides of the steamer of the plates?

    1. Hey Supriya, you need to line the steaming dish, so that when u pour the batter, you dont pour it directly on the steel steamer but on the cloth, it helps keep the idlis soft and also makes removing them easier :D

  3. I lurrveee fact right now my batter is in oven..waiting to go to moulds.. :D My proportion is 1 C Urad Dal + 2 C Raw Rice + 2 C Parboiled Rice + 1 C soaked Poha + 10-12 methi seeds & when theres cold I add salt to the batter & put it in the oven..till it rises.. At times I make Tri-Coloured stuffed idlis too..!! Loved your blog espl baked goodies :)

    ~ Shilpa Pinaki

    1. And for Dosas..I use 1 C Urad Dal + 3 C Raw Rice + 2-3 Tbsps Chana Dal..this batter gives Crisp & Golden Brown Dosas.. Chana Dal helps in giving colour & imparts taste to bland Urad Dal.. :)

    2. Hey Shilpa,
      Ive seen loads of recipes like yours that use poha and methi daana etc. If it works for you then thats just great, and I think its a good tip for people living in places that are cooler than tropical mumbai :D Do keep stopping by. I will def keep your recipes in mind if I have to make idlis in Delhi :D


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