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Dosa and Idli Batter

Dosas and idlis are a true labor of love, but a signature menu item in any South Indian home, especially on the weekends. The beauty of making this batter is that it can be used interchangeably to make either dosas or idlis. For idlis, you'll want to keep the same batter thick and for dosa you will add water to thin it out. Note: I've got a final video showing the making of a dosa on a heated cast iron (it's the best for crispy dosas) and another for how to make idilis.


  • 2 cups urad daal (lentils)

  • 1 tsp fenugreek (optional) - adds flavor

  • 1/2 cup cooked rice (optional) - gives softness and adds fluffiness

  • 4 cups rice flour

How To:

  1. Wash 2 cups urad daal thoroughly. Massage the lentils to remove any dirt. Throw out the dirty water and keep washing until the water is mostly clear. Now add enough filtered water to cover the daal (~4 cups) along with 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds to urad daal. Leave soaking overnight or a minimum of 5 hours.

  2. Blend the soaked daal batter in small quantities so your blender can grind easily. Add water to get batter to right consistency and aid blending. If the water you left it soaking in is still somewhat clear, you can use that as water to blend OR throw out and add fresh filtered water. Note: Amount of water is not specific - you still want the batter to be thick so add water bit by bit and check consistency.

  3. To the blended daal batter add 1/2 cup of cooked rice along with some water and blend smooth. Pour batter into a tall pot. Note: size of pot needs to be large as batter will expand during fermentation process.

  4. Now add some water to any residual batter in blender and blend it to clean out. Keep aside.

  5. Take 4 cups rice flour and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the blended water to the rice flour and keeping mixing. You will need to add additional filtered water to the rice mix to get it smooth.

  6. Add rice flour batter to daal batter and combine both together. Tip: use clean hands to mix as it will ensure everything is smooth and consistent in preparation for fermentation. Also, clean sides of tall pot.

  7. Add 1 tsp of Himalayan salt now to the combined dosa batter (Note: this is can also be added later and more may be required after fermentation is done).

  8. Cover the tall pot and keep in dark room temperature place to ferment for another 5-6 hours. Time is dependent on warmth in your home. Easiest thing is to set it and forget it overnight. Note: if its winter time, store the pot in your oven with the oven light on to add a bit of warmth OR heat the oven just before and switch off. Once temp is room temp, store the batter in the oven.

  9. Check on your batter after overnight or minimum 5-6 hour wait is over. The batter will have increased in size and be frothy yet still thicker in consistency. You may need to add more salt per your liking.

And that's it! Follow along to the very end for some additional troubleshooting tips!😉

Blending urad daal with water:

Adding 1/2 cup cooked rice to blended daal batter with some filtered water:

Mixing rice flour with filtered water:

Combined dosa batter is ready for fermentation process:

This video shows the desired consistency of the batter before fermentation:

This is what your batter should looks like after fermentation:

Pour a ladle full of batter into a cast iron to make your dosa:

Bonus Tips / Troubleshooting:

1. You may find that batter hasn't risen much after 5-6 hours. If that's the case, suggest moving the batter to your oven. Turn on the oven and then switch it off. Once the oven has become warm, take a pan and fill it with water and now set the dosa batter on top. Keep the oven closed and this should speed up the fermentation process.

2. Do not keep the batter fermenting for longer than it needs. It can become sour. As soon as its ready, move it to the refrigerator or freezer for future use. My mom's keeps empty plastic 32 oz containers of yoghurt for this purpose (a staple you'll find in most Indian households for just this reason 😆)

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