This is a tutorial for making Idli or Dosa batter without using the traditional wet grinder. I had a table top ultra grind wet grinder and it was taking up space on the kitchen counter. So when a friend was planning to buy one, I gave her mine. Win win for both of us. Now I make batter in a regular blender and so can you.
Some protest that a wet grinder is still the best tool for making the batter. I agree. But if you are living outside India or if you are on short term projects abroad, you can still make the batter at home without having to haul the grinder from place to place.
Another common complaint is that grinder stone crushes the rice and dal while a blender cuts them with sharp blades.
Another reason why some do not like a blender / mixie is that the batter gets hot and partially cooked during blending. I have given a solution for this below.
Ingredients for making Idli / Dosa batter
The batter has 2 main ingredients – Rice and urad dal (black gram).
The rice used is Parboiled rice / Idli rice. It is not the regular rice we use to cook lunch. It will be bigger in size like brown rice.
Regular rice will not work. You can purchase Idli rice or parboiled rice in any Indian grocery store.
You can also soak a spoon of fenugreek seeds (methi / vendhayam seeds) along with the dal. Fenugreek is excellent for regulating sugar levels in the blood. It also give dosa that crispy brown color when cooked.
We soak it with dal and not the rice because menthi seeds have to be crushed into a very fine paste. When we grind for idli, dal is ground into a fine paste and ground rice will have a coarser texture. If menthi is not ground into a fine paste but has a coarse texture, menthi will expand in size. So when making dosa or idli, you will be able to see tiny pieces of the seeds.
What is the correct proportion for idly and dosa batter?
The proportion of dal: rice used varies from person to person. Some use 1:3, some prefer 1:4 and some even prefer 1:5.
When I first got married, I did not know the ABC of cooking so I was confused when I saw the different proportions that ranged from 1:3 to 1:5. So I chose 1:4 and it has worked perfectly well for me.
If you are unsure, each week you can experiment with a different proportion and see what suits your taste buds.
The taste of idli and dosa depends not only on the ingredients but also on how it is ground and whether it is fermented or not.
How to grind batter for Idli and Dosa
Wash and then soak rice and urad dal in water. Add enough water as rice and dal will expand in size during soaking. Rice has to be soaked for a minimum of 5 hours. Dal has to be soaked for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Since we are going to use a blender and not a wet grinder, soak it in the refrigerator. When batter is made in mixie (blender is called mixie in India), the batter gets heated up and cooked. To prevent this, the batter (especially black gram dal) has to be kept cool either by soaking the whole thing in the refrigerator or by adding ice water during grinding. I know a friend who adds ice cubes. Her blender blades did not like her for this and they broke. 🙂 May be it was the brand of blender she used. Just throwing in a word of caution here.
If you are going to add fenugreek, add it with dal and not the rice.
Grind in batches if your are grinding batter for the entire week.
Grind the dal first with little water and salt.
The water has to be just enough to keep the blender blades moving smoothly. Too much water will remove the fluffiness from the batter and idli will become very flat and heavy.
Dal has to be made into a fine paste. The usual time taken in my blender is about 5 minutes. It will vary from blender to blender and also the amount added. Stop grinding when the dal is smooth and silky and when you see bubbles in the batter. It will have a fluffy and light weight feel to it. This is very important because if you grind the batter too much, it will become flat and watery.
How to test whether the urad dal in idli / dosa batter is ground properly
Do the “is it floating or sinking” test
Take a small cup with water and drop (not mix) half a teaspoon of dal batter to it.
It is floats, it is ready. If it dissolves in the water or sinks to the bottom, it is not ready to be removed from the blender jar.
Once the dal is ground, pour it into a vessel and set it aside. If it got a little hot during grinding, keep the vessel slightly open or simply cover it with a tissue so it gets cooled down.
Note how the consistency is fluffy and creamy and not watery.
Next grind the rice in 2 or 3 batches depending on the amount of rice and size of blender jar. If the load is heavy, blender blades will have trouble moving.
Some people prefer a coarser texture for Idli batter and finer texture for Dosa batter. I use the same batter for both idli and dosa and grind the rice till it is not too fine and not too coarse.
Note how the consistency of rice batter is different from that of the urad dal batter.
Once the rice is ground to your liking, mix it with the dal batter.
The two of them have to be mixed thoroughly now itself before the batter is fermented. Once the batter is fermented and the batter has air bubbles in it, if we mix vigorously, the air bubbles will be expelled and the idli will not be fluffy. I use a whisk to mix. You may use your hand or any ladle. Check for salt and now the batter is ready to be fermented.
Note the volume of batter in the vessel above and below.
In winter, I ferment it in the oven and even wrote all about my batter fermenting woes here. 🙄 How to ferment Dosa and Idli batter in cold weather
I find that fermenting during day time when the sun is out also guarantees proper fermenting. So soak rice and dal at night and grind in the morning. The batter will be ready for making dosa / idli for dinner.
To ferment in the oven, I heat the oven till it is warm (not hot) for 5 minutes and then switch off the oven and then place the batter in it for 6 hours / over night.
There will be significant rise in volume so use a bigger vessel. The volume will double if the batter is properly fermented.
The volume has started to increase. In 2 more hours, the batter will reach the rim of the vessel. If you are going to ferment batter overnight, place it inside a bigger plate / tray so any overflowing batter will be collected in it. This is so much easier than cleaning an oven – Trust me on that one
When I stir it gently with a spoon, you can see the bubbles forming and that the batter has become thicker in consistency. (I took it out of the oven just to take these 2 pictures. Please avoid disturbing the batter till it is done 🙂 )
If the batter has been fermented properly, you will see these holes left by air bubbles when making dosa.
Here is the finished dosa with Coconut Chutney (Click for Recipe)
If after trying all the above steps, you saw increase in batter volume during fermentation but it was not double the volume, don’t panic and don’t feel sad and give up. Dosa is more forgiving that Idli. Make dosa with this batch and next time ferment for a little longer.
Regular Idli with drumstick tiffin Sambar. This is an easy one pot sambar that is ideal for morning rush hour.
(Sorry the following picture was taken during morning rush hour with phone and bad lighting. 🙂 )
These are mini idlis that can be dropped into a bowl of hot sambar. Add a teaspoon of ghee (optional) and allow the idli to soak for 5 minutes before eating. You can get mini idli plates in any vessel shop in India.
Kids will love mini idli because it is easy for them to pick and eat. You can encourage your fussy toddler to have an eating contest.
You ate 10 (mini) while daddy ate just 3 (regular big ones).
After protesting in vain for a few years, my husband has finally accepted the fact that all contests between him and his daughter will be skewed in her favor :D.
How to store Idli batter
Refrigerate the batter and it will keep well for 1 week if you scoop it using dry clean spoons.
This batter is used as such for idli and diluted for making dosa. I scoop out only the amount required for the day into a separate vessel instead of diluting the entire batch.
Don’t beat / mix the batter too much before cooking. If the air is released, dosa and idli will not be soft and fluffy.
Hope you found this recipe useful. Do leave behind your comments and questions below. It will make me glad to hear from you.
Enjoy your dosa and Idli 🙂