Recipe : Idli and Dosa Batter

I have lived in Tamil Nadu for over 11 long years. Every South Indian home is always equipped with dosa batter. If there is nothing available to eat, there’ll be dosa batter at least, irrespective if you’re a carnivore or a shudh Brahmin. I have always had dosa batter in my fridge too. In all these 11.5years, I bought batter from the store just once. That was because a family member was sick with Dengue in the hospital and I had to run around a lot with no time to make my own batter. It’s so easy to make if you have a proportion that works for you. I don’t understand why people always buy batter.

Of course a stone grinder is the most preferred way for a lot of reasons. But, I never felt the urge to purchase one. Living in the heart of Tamil Nadu, with every home having their own wet stone grinder especially for batter, I thought it was a waste of table top space and too heavy and cumbersome to purchase something for just a handful of dishes, especially because I had a very good substitute – a regular mixer/grinder. Of course, the stone grinder is way better, but it’s so bulky. I have always ground my batter in a mixie and it has never been a problem. Idlis turn soft and fluffly every single time.

The most important thing in dosa/idly batter is the proportion of rice and urad dal. My secret is 3:1. So, for 3 cups of rice or whatever unit of measure you are using, you will add 1 cup of urad dal. This piece of information is enough for a cooking novice, but for the amateurs, I’m going to elaborate on that now.


  • 2.5 cups parboiled rice/idli rice {do not use raw rice/basmati rice please}
  • 1 cup husked urad dal {I prefer unpolished whole grained urad that is not split}
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds {optional, helps with the fermentation and to get crispy dosas}
  • 1/2 cup thick poha/beaten rice or leftover cooked rice {optional, if not using this, please add 1/2 cup more parboiled rice as the total quantity of rice including poha/cooked rice should be 3 cups}
  • water


  • Measure the rice quantity. Wash well and soak in water for about 4 hours. This helps soften the grains and makes grinding better.
  • Similarly, measure the urad dal, wash and soak in water for 4 hourse separately. Do not soak it with the rice. Use a different container please. You can add the methi/fenugreek seeds to the urad pot, but do not mix the rice and urad ever.
  • Grind the urad dal very well to an extremely smooth paste.
  • Grind the rice along with the poha/cooked rice. Rice may be a little grainy in texture and that is okay, infact preferred.
  • Now you can mix the two. Stir well and keep in a very tall container anticipating it to ferment and rise and possibly fall out of the container. So keep a lid with some weight on top of it.
  • Allow it to ferment overnight, 10 hours on average. That’s the approximate time it takes in a hot and humid place like Chennai or Mumbai. If you live in a place with cooler climate, you will need to find a warm spot like your oven with just the light on {for heat}.
  • Do not add too much water as a runny batter will never give you fluffy idlis, they’ll just be too flat. And do not let the batter be too thick because it will be too dense to rise up and ferment. Hence the idlis will not be very spongey and fluffy. Adjust it to the consistency of a thick cake batter.
  • Do not add salt until the fermentation is done. Salt will just extend the time required to ferment your batter. So add salt only before making your dosas/idlis.
  • I used to do this late morning and have batter ready by night for late night snacking for family arriving late at night and confused if they must eat dinner/breakfast/snacks. Dosas are just perfect because they are very popular at the breakfast counters, make a great snack or ‘tiffin’ as we say in South India and are amazing for dinner too. You can even make it by late evening, sleep well at night and return to amazing fermented batter in the morning ready to make some yummy breakfast items.
  • I will share how to make idlis and dosas in another post. This post will just cover the batter making process. πŸ™‚
Always soak and grind the rice and urad separately. If you grind them together it will never be smooth enough. The urad will remain grainy and your batter will not ferment.
This is one of the first things I learned after marriage because everyone in my family loves dosas. My MIL deserves credit for this.
This is the consistency required for dosas. Idlis would require lesser water.


  • Begin with making idlis for the first two or three days of this batter being made. They will rise well and be very soft and fluffy when the batter is fresh.
  • As time goes by, you can thin out the batter with a little water and use it for dosas instead. Dosa batter does not require much fermentation and is a little more runny as compared to idly batter. So plan wisely beginning with idli days followed by utthappam/dosa days.
  • You can use the same batter for uttapam and paniyarams if you tweak it a bit. It’s very versatile.
  • If your batter does not rise well, you can still use it for dosas, just not idlis.
  • You can reserve a small amount of batter from a good batch and kick-start the fermentation process with active cultures from the previous batch.
  • I usually used to make a fresh batter every week. It lasts very long and is very handy for last minute meals and quick fixes. Every South Indian home will definitely have dosa batter in their fridge.
  • It keeps well for a very long time.
  • In fact, you can even freeze it. I have always done it. This may appear as sacrilege to any South Indian reading this post, but it is very convenient and handy. If you wish to freeze it, don’t add salt. It stores better that way.

Bon Appetit!

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  1. Every one’s favorite breakfast in south India especially in Tamilnadu, yummy with authentic Red (Dry chilis & Tomatoes) Chutney. Thanks for giving me the plan for today’s breakfast dear strawberry πŸ₯°πŸ“πŸ“πŸ’–πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh so sweet Suma….ooh wow…I love tomato chutney….I dont know why the world prefers the coconut chutneys instead…I’m a tomato girl. I hope you had a yummy breakfast…..

      Lots of love,


                1. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ It is a veryyyyy long and tiring journey from the Indian subcontinent to North America. It is back breaking and quite something to endure. πŸ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting Batter
    As A South Indian
    Cultural Tradition



    In The
    United States
    Recipe Of Common
    Coca-Cola Still With
    All The Table Spoons
    Of Sugar Relating to
    Fizz And Caffeine
    Sharing An
    Can Staple of Life

    In Big City Life Unglued😊

    Liked by 1 person

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