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Friday, June 29, 2018

Idli - Dosa Batter in a Mixer | How to get spongy soft Idlis and Dosas? (Step by Step Pics)

School days are always nostalgic memories of the past which I sometimes feel to rewind the cycle and get back to school uniforms again. Gone are the stress free days, but those are the days days when studies took the most stressful part and every child wishes to grow older soon to earn a living soon so that he/she can put away the books. Little do they know about the world that welcomes us after the school age. My kids also wish the same and I keep telling them that now is the best part of their age where you have enough time for play,studies or friends. My school days was always surrounded with many north Indian friends, who those days were crazy about idlis and dosas.The only access for north Indian friends to devour idlis or dosas was the lunch box that their south Indian friends brought to school. I had one of my good mallu friend, who never got idlis to eat for lunch whenever she bought to school as her mom always packed the idlis with gun powder(chammanthi podi) which was their favorite combo. Many of us were also in the same shoes and poor girls had to rely on canteen stuff to fill up their tummies. There were times when we used to carry two lunch boxes esp on a idli or dosa day,one for friends and one for self. Such was the craze of idlis and dosas during school days. Now things have changed, restaurants /dosa huts are an easy option for people who don't make idlis/dosas at home. Also, the idli /dosa batter is also readily available in super markets and Indian stores.

Anyways, I have always enjoyed my mom's handmade idlis/ dosas made by grinding rice and urad dal. Eventually I followed the same steps and made my own version of idlis and dosas. The idlis weren't  always soft and perfect in my initial days after marriage but gradually I have gained confidence in making them in a mixer and have hardly felt the need of a grinder. Many who have tasted the idlis at my home have been asking if I use grinder to make the spongy soft idlis and the ratio of rice and urad dal etc. Even request from one or two good readers who have asked to post this recipe too and I was always lazy to write such an elaborate post and kept postponing.Though the recipe has nothing out of the blue moon but a few tricks and tips that I follow gets me to softer idlis I suppose. I have even started trying out different idlis with barley and quinoa,check out quinoa idlis and barley- oats idlis if interested. One thing for sure is in a grinder,the rice to urad dal(uzhunnu) ratio is very different and is almost 5:1 where as in a blender or mixer the ratio of rice to urad dal is 3:1 or 2:1.The batter for idli and dosa is no different but there are slight changes too. When grinding for dosas, its better to grind with few spoon of aval than cooked rice,that way the dosas gets brown and crispier.

  1. Wash and soak the rice and urad dal. Use the soaked water to grind too as the soaked water has starch in it so don't discard this water.
  2. Separately soak each of the dal and rice. 
  3. Don't run the mixer for too long such that the jar gets heated up. Add ice cubes as and when necessary to maintain temperature. 
  4. Use iron griddle to make spongy dosas like set dosas. Non stick dosas don't give that taste and flavor. Gingelly oil helps in easy removal of dosas from griddle and adds a color,flavor to dosas.
  5. Use cooked rice or fenugreek seeds when grinding for idlis. And grind aval/beaten rice when grinding for dosas,yields crispy dosas.
  6. Preferably use good quality steel containers or glass containers with a tight lid to ferment the batter. Its better to avoid plastic containers as the fermented product may react with plastics.

Soaking time~ 5 hours
Cooking time~10 minutes
Serves ~ 24 idlis or 15-16 dosas
raw rice(plain rice /pachari / kolam rice) 1 cup
idly rice 1 cup
urad dal(round)/ muzhuvannu uzhunnu 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp
* cooked rice 1.5 tbsp(to make idlis) or aval/ beaten rice 1.5 tbsp(to make dosas)
salt to taste

to spread for dosas
gingelly oil/ghee  as needed

How do I prepare the batter?

  • Wash and soak the plain rice,idly rice, urad dal(uzhunnu) separately in different bowls in enough water(water just above the rice for 3-4 hours and for urad dal(uzhunnu) slightly more than that as it soaks up more water) for about 4-5 hours.
  • After 4-5 hours, transfer the plain rice to the mixer. Add as per the holding capacity of the jar. Add in few *ice cubes and water slightly. Pulse the mixer twice and check the water level. Add more water if required(remember that ice cubes turn to water so add water accordingly). Run the mixer and grind until smooth. Transfer the batter to a large bowl.

  • Similarly grind the idly rice and then urad dal(grind each one of this separately as each of the rice and urad dal takes separate time to grind). Add less water while grinding urad dal. Also remember to add the cooked rice (or soaked aval) in the last batch of grinding urad dal.
  • Mix the batter well using hands or a wooden spoon for 5-7 mins. Aerating the batter with clean hands is much better and gives the same softness as you grind with grinders. (Read tips and tricks below)
  • You should see air bubbles on top of the batter once the aerating procedure is done. Cover and leave to ferment in a warm place for 7-8 hours.
  • In the morning  or after 7-8 hours, add salt to taste and mix the batter well.
  • Heat water in an idli maker or idli cooker and keep for boiling on medium flame.
  • Grease the idli mould with gingelly oil or coconut oil(I use coconut oil). Then pour in batter from the lowest rack to the highest. Pour about 3/4 th full in each mould. Place the next mould tray on top and repeat till you finish. Place this trays in the cooker and steam cook for 10-12 minutes or if you have an apprehension check using a tooth pick inserted in the center of one of the idlis.If the tooth pick comes out clean,then its done. 

  • Remove from the cooker and leave to cool slightly for 5-6 minutes until the idlis leave out from the sides of the mould. Using a large shallow spoon,scoop out the idlis and place it in a casserole. Keep covered.

  • Repeat the same steps till you finish all the batter. If you wish to refrigerate the remaining batter,then transfer this in an air tight container and refrigerate in the first row of the fridge.
  • Serve the idlis with sambar/ tomato chutney / coconut chutney(few more sides listed below). Enjoy!
  • The basic principles remain the same for grinding for dosas like idlis. If you plan to make set dosas or spongy dosas then make the batter slightly thinner than idli batter. If you plan to make ghee roast or nei roast or paper dosas, then make the batter watery. Add water only after fermentation.
  • Heat the iron griddle or dosa stone(dosa kallu),apply some gingelly oil/ghee using a soft cloth or a peeled shallot poked on  a knife tip. I use a soft cloth and gingelly oil. As soon as you see steam seeping through the stone or griddle, pour one ladle full of batter and spread immediately starting from the center to the outside. Wait till the bubbles surface on top of the batter and break open. Reduce the flame then to low and sprinkle few drops of oil on top(optional),flip to the other side. Cook another 45 seconds and remove on  a plate(the  iron gridlle dosen't get over heated for the next dosa this way if you reduce the flame at this point.

  • Increase flame again, smear oil or ghee and then pour batter,repeat the same steps to make dosas with remaining batter. If at any point if you feel the iron griddle is over heated, then sprinkle few drops of water and wipe the griddle,reduces temperature of the griddle. Then smear oil and pour batter,works good. Otherwise the batter doesn't spread easily on an over heated griddle.
  • I usually don't make and store dosas like idlis in a casserole as dosas turn soggy very soon or becomes hard if left outside. Make hot dosas and serve immediately with sambar/ coconut chutney/ tomato chutney (few more sides listed below).

  1. If you happen to grind the batter early like 5 or 6 pm and leave to ferment till morning,it may go over fermented and turn sour. In that case,I generally refrigerate the batter till 9 pm and then remove it out from fridge. Mix well and leave out to ferment thereafter.
  2.  There should also be enough space in the container for the fermentation. Leave a 2/3 rd space empty so that there is enough space. 
  3. I usually grind for two days and keep one portion of the batter without fermentation in the fridge. The day before I plan to make idlis/dosas,just keep the batter out from fridge. Mix this nicely to aerate and leave to ferment 7-8 hours. Works good.
  4. During winters in US, I used to leave the oven light 'on' and keep the batter in for fermentation or preheat oven for 10 mins and then switch off oven. Place the batter in after 15 minutes.
  5. Another good trick is to place the batter in a container that can fit easily in a Indian type casserole or hot case. Keep the container with batter in the casserole and cover with a lid. This is what I follow now during rainy days. Anyways,these are all few ways that you can adapt or find newer styles. The ultimate aim is to provide good warm atmosphere for the batter to ferment.
  6. Add salt once the batter is fermented without disturbing the air bubbles much. I feel adding salt after fermentation gets the batter fermenting well than adding and leaving to ferment. Anyways that's each one's individual choice.

* Mom makes idlis with plain rice(raw rice /kola rice /pachari) alone,you can always try that without adding idly rice but I feel over the time, the idlis made with idli rice combination are more spongier compared to the ones made with raw rice(kolam rice/pachari) alone. I used to make that way to but in that case its better to add more uzhunnu or urad dal, then only the idlis comes out softer like this version.
* Adding plain rice 1 1/4 cups and 3/4 cup of idly rice also yields soft idlis. If you are comfortable in that ratio then go for it.
* Ice cubes help prevent the batter getting over heated and that way the batter doesn't ferment well. Mixer always has a tendency of getting heated and so the contents in it.
* You can add fenugreek seeds (1 tsp) instead of cooked rice. Though the idlis come out very soft but there are chances of batter getting sour if we ferment for 6-7 hours as the batter with fenugreek ferments faster than the batter without fenugreek.The color of idlis is also off white and so I hardly use fenugreek.
* Aerating the batter with hand gives the batter a lighter feel and ferments better.
* Use an iron griddle to make dosas which gives a nice crispy and browner side. Non stick dosas turn hard soon as it cools down though it uses very less oil. Instant hot dosas on non sticks come out good and if served hot,turns good too but once it cooled the dosas turn hard.

* Kanchipuram Idlis
* Masala Dosa
* Dosa Waffles
* Idli Upma
* Baked Idli Snack
* Ghee roast /Nei Roast
* Punugulu
* Potato Stuffed paniyaram
* Dosizza (Dosa Pizza)
* Beet Dosa
* Kuzhi paniyaram
* Omlette Dosa 
* Chicken Masala Dosa

Ripe Mango Chutney
Idli Milagu podi 
Varutharacha Sambar 
Pottukadala Chutney(Split Dalia) 
Ulli Chammanthi

1 comment:

Thermofan. Marisa G. said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi, Julie. I didn't know what an Idli was, but I've seen Dosa recipes.
Love them, but I don't know if I can only use plain rice because here is impossible to find the other ingredients.
I'd like to taste one of your dosas or idlis.
Have a nice weekend.