Idli and Dosa are traditional South Indian foods, which are also popular all over India. I shared the recipe for Idli some time back, so this time I am sharing the recipe for preparing Idli Batter in Instant Pot.
Being a North Indian and not growing up making idli’s from scratch at home, I used to have a hard time getting the batter right. Sometimes it would not ferment and rise enough. Fermenting batter is difficult in colder places like the US, especially during the winter months. But guess what…the instant pot can come to the rescue here too. The idli’s will be soft and fluffy if the batter is fermented well. It does take some practice to get the batter right. Even if the batter does not come out perfectly fermented, it is always great to prepare dosa.
Usually batter is prepared once for the week and used multiple times. Prepare idli’s initially, as they come out soft with fresh batter. When I prepare the batter, I first use it to make idli’s, then to make dosas and any leftover batter to prepare uttapam. All of these meals, can be enjoyed with sambar and chutney.
Soaking the lentils and Rice
The first step in preparing batter is soaking the rice and lentils. I use Idli rice and Urad dal (Split Skinned Black Gram Lentils). Idli rice are very different than basmati rice, they are very short grain rice. (Do not use these idli rice to make rice to be eaten with a curry. My mother-in-law was curious, so she tried and they do not taste good)
The ratio of rice to dal is 3:1. Rinse and soak the idly rice in a bowl. Separately rinse and soak urad dal in another bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of methi seeds to the soaked urad dal. Leave the rice and lentils soaked for 4 hours or overnight.
Grinding the batter
In South India, people use a wet grinder to grind idli batter. However I use my Vitamix to grind the batter. You need a strong grinder that can make the batter very fine.
The best way is to grind rice and dal separately and then mix them together. Drain the water from the soaked urad dal. Add the urad dal to the Vitamix and grind it to a smooth batter. Add cold water as needed to grind the batter, but the batter should not get runny, it should be fluffy. I added about half cup of water and ran the vitamix for less than a minute. Transfer the batter to the instant pot insert. It is important to add cold water, as we don’t want the batter to heat up much as that can hinder proper fermenting.
Now drain the soaked rice and add them to the Vitamix. Grind the rice to a smooth batter, again adding cold water as needed. I added about 1.5 cups of water and ran the vitamix for less than a minute. Transfer the batter to the instant pot insert. The batter came up to about 5 mark in the insert. Add salt and mix the batter well. Use non-iodized salt, as iodized salt can hinder fermenting of the batter.
Fermenting the batter in Instant Pot
Start the instant pot in the “Yogurt” mode. Press adjust until the display shows 8 hours. Then press “+” to change to 10 hours. Cover instant pot with a glass (or steel) lid and let the batter ferment.
After 10 hours, the batter should have risen up to 8 or 9 cup mark. If it has not risen enough, place the glass lid again and leave for a couple of more hours.
Fermenting the batter in oven
If you don’t have an instant pot, you can ferment the batter in the oven. I usually just turn on the oven light, which gives the batter enough warmth to ferment. Place the pot covered with a lid just below the oven light. Leave it overnight or for 10 hours in the oven to ferment the batter.
After 10 hours, the batter should have risen well. If it has not risen enough, leave for a couple of more hours.
The batter is ready to use. Use it right away to make idli or cover it and store it in the refrigerator.
Tips and Tricks
- Prepare idli initially as they come out soft with fresh batter. Do not mix the whole batter, take out the required amount you need to prepare the idli in a separate bowl.
- Use very cold water when grinding the batter, as that helps to not heat up the batter much.
- One disadvantage of using the instant pot to prepare batter for me is that, the insert is now used for the batter and cannot be used for other things I want to prepare in the instant pot. Hence many times, I ferment the batter in the oven.
- If you need the instant pot insert for other preparations, you have to remove the batter to another vessel. This is not ideal as the fermented batter is disturbed. However it has still worked fine. Just remove the batter slowly without mixing it and store it in another pot or box. Mix it gently when you are ready to prepare the idli’s.
- To prepare dosa’s, add some water and make the batter consistency thinner. Mix gently and prepare dosa.
- Do not increase the quantity much more than suggested in this recipe. I have seen some posts where the batter has risen too much and the instant pot has locked. I also recommend use a glass lid to close the instant pot in yogurt mode when making batter.
Instant Pot Idli Dosa Batter
- Rinse urad dal with water and soak it in a bowl. Add methi seeds to the soaked dal.
- Rinse idli rice with water and soak it in a separate bowl.
- Soak the dal and rice for 4 hours or overnight.
- Drain the water from the dal and rice.
- Add the dal to the grinder and grind to a smooth batter. Add cold water as needed to grind the dal (about half cup). Grind using a wet grinder or vitamix or another powerful grinder. Pour the dal batter in the instant pot insert.
- Add the soaked idli rice to the grinder and grind to the smooth batter. Add cold water as needed to grind to a fine paste (about 1.5 cups). Pour the batter in the instant pot insert. The batter would approximately reach the 5 mark. Add salt and mix the batter well (you can use your hands or a spatula to mix the batter).
- Place the insert in the instant pot and cover with a glass lid. Set it to Yogurt mode for 10 hours by pressing the Adjust and + buttons.
- After the time is complete, the batter would be fermented and ready to use. See tips above.
- Enjoy idli or dosa made with the batter.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.