Idli-Dosa batter from scratch

Dosas & Idlis are popular breakfast foods in India. Even though the dish is originated in South India, they are sold nationwide. It would be very difficult to find a place in India that does not sell this. Dosa/Idlis are vegan, and gluten free. Idlis are soft and fluffy while Dosas are paper thin and crispy, both made from fermented rice lentil batter. If you are craving Idli/Dosa, but don’t live in a part of the world where you can get it easily, consider trying out this simple Idli/Dosa batter recipe. When it comes to the batter, it is all about proportions and consistency. I have fool proof batter recipe which you can easily make at home and save your self trip to the restaurant by having perfect Idlis/Dosas at home.

Lets start at the basics, the Idli/Dosa batter is made with two main ingredients – Rice and Urad dal.

  • I have used various types of rice and still got the perfect batter for my Idli/Dosa. When you go to Indian grocery story, you can get Idli Rice or Basmati short grain rice. Both are appropriate to use for the batter.
  • You want to get the dehusked urad dal, it does not matter if its whole or split.
  • Batter ratio is 4:1 (4 cups of rice to 1 cup of urad dal).
  • Add 1 tbsp of chana dal to the batter it gives it nice creamy color.
  • Add 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds to aid in the fermentation process.
  • Mix all the measure ingredients and soak for 4-6 hours or overnight.

The process of making batter becomes easier once you have got the correct measured proportions. The second integral part is having a good powder blender like vitamix, because the batter needs to be smooth and thick. If you dont have a good blender, you have a risk of burning the motor, telling from experience LOL.

So many asked when do you add the salt to your batter? Honestly, it is preference. However salt inhibits fermentation process, so during winter I add salt after fermentation while during summer I add salt prior fermentation process. During summer weather, adding salt prior fermentation process helps prevent over fermenting and sourness of the batter.


1 cup of dehusked split urad dal

4 cups of rice

1 tbsp chana dal

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

3-4 cups of water

2 tsp of salt (or to taste)


For batter – Wash rice, urad dal, fenugreek seeds, and chana dal. Soak them in generous amount of water in deep large bowl for 4-6 hours or overnight. Drain excess water and place the soaked lentils in the blender. Add little water at a time and grind until it reaches a smooth thick consistency. You want to keep it thick pancake batter consistency, so make sure you add water only if needed and go slow with it. After grinding, transfer all the batter into a large deep bowl so the batter has enough room to rise during fermentation process. In the winter, this process takes 9-10 hours versus during summer time this process takes 5-7 hours. The fermenting time differs depending on the temperature and weather conditions. The final fermented batter should be slightly frothy and airy, and should have almost doubled in volume so make sure to put it in a large container. After fermentation, refrigerated the batter if not using it immediately to prevent further fermentation and souring of the batter. You can store Idli/Dosa batter in refrigerator in air tight container for 2-3 days. You can also freeze your batter in air tight container and thaw 8 hours prior using it.

For Idli – Heat 1-2 cups of water in a deep pan over medium heat. Oil the Idli molds and gently fill the rounds with the salted batter. Put the Idli molds inside the pan and let it steam for 6-7 minutes. Make sure not to over cook the Idlis, otherwise they will be hard and dry. After 7 minutes, when you remove the molds, do not remove the Idlis immediately out of the mold. Let it cook for 5 minutes and then spoon it out. Serve hot with your favorite chutney and sambhar.

For Dosa – Consistency of the batter should be like pancake batter. If too thick than add water. Heat 10 inch non stick or cast iron pan over medium heat. Pour a ladle full of batter in the center of the pan. Starting at the center, quickly made concentric circles of increasing diameter with the ladle. This will form the dosa shape. Brush oil all over dosa and cook until bottom is golden brown. You will see the edges slightly curling and releasing itself from the pan. My dosas are very thin, so I never have to flip to cook the other side, however if your Dosas are thick, you may want to flip the other side and cook for couple of minutes. Remove the dosa to a plate and serve immediately with potato masala stuffing, chutney, and sambhar.

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