Learn the easy recipe to make Idli Dosa Batter, along with tips and tricks to grind using a blender and ferment to perfection. This batter will result in soft, spongy idli’s and perfect crispy dosa.

Idli batter or dosa batter fermented in the instant pot

Idli and Dosa are traditional South Indian foods, which are also popular all over India. The only way to get the best idli’s is to have perfectly fermented batter. 

Idli is a savory rice cake, made by steaming a batter consisting of lentils and rice. Dosa is a crispy crepe made with the same batter of lentils and rice.

Being a North Indian, my mom did not make idli’s from scratch at home. Mostly we would use store-bought batter to make idli and dosa. Hence making idli dosa batter is something I had to learn for my love of South Indian food.

I used to have a hard time getting the batter right. Sometimes it would not ferment and rise enough, and at other times it would be perfect, keeping me wondering what went wrong. But eventually now I can make perfect batter evert time. So here I will share all the lessons I have learnt from all the times I have made Idli Dosa Batter. 

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. If you don’t have an instant pot, you can use the oven to ferment batter 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.

Each state, or family in South India has a different recipe or proportion they prefer for the batter. Some also make different batter for idli and for dosa. I am sharing the recipe for Idli Dosa Batter that works for me.

If you plan to make only dosa, check out this recipe for crispy dosa!

How to make perfect Idli Dosa Batter?

Dal and Rice for Batter

For making Idli Dosa Batter, you need Idli rice and Urad dal .

Idli rice are very different than basmati rice, they are short grain parboiled rice.  Tip: 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.

Urad Dal is skinned black gram lentils. You can use the whole lentils called urad dal gota or split urad dal.

I also add fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) when making the batter. This was a tip from my South Indian friends mom, that it helps with fermentation.

Idli Batter Dal Rice Ratio

Now the next thing is to determine the best ratio for dal to rice. The ratio of dal to rice is 1:4.

You can make batter with 1:3 dal to rice ratio too, however the idli is not as soft as with the 1:4 ratio.

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Then soak the idly rice in a bowl with enough water.

Soaked small grain rice in water

In a separate bowl, rinse and soak urad dal.  Add 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds to the soaked urad dal.

It is important to soak the dal and rice separately. The reason is that they both need different time to grind, so if we soak and grind together we might not get the ideal result.

Leave the rice and lentils soaked for 4 hours or overnight.

Soaked Urad Dal with methi seeds

Grinding the batter

In South India, people use a wet grinder to grind idli batter. However I personally don’t want to have a separate gadget just to make batter, so I use a high performance blender (Vitamix) to grind the batter.  You need a strong grinder that can make the batter very fine, while not heating it up.

In India, most people have a mixie (short for mixer grinder) at home. These mixie’s are often not high performance, and can heat the batter too much can will hinder proper fermentation. If you have to use a mixer to grind the batter, then grind in small quantities and add ice cold water to keep the batter cool.

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 or ice as needed when grinding the batter. It is important to add cold water, as we don’t want the batter to heat up as that can hinder proper fermenting.

Blended Batter in a Vitamix

The batter should neither be thick, nor runny. It should also not be thick, it should be fluffy. I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and ran the vitamix for less than a minute.  Transfer the batter to a large bowl (or instant pot steel insert if fermenting in instant pot).

Now drain the soaked rice and add them to the same blender.  Grind the rice to a smooth batter, again adding cold water or ice as needed.  I added about 1.5 cups of water when grinding the rice and ran the vitamix for less than a minute.

Transfer the batter to the same bowl or instant pot steel insert.

Add salt and mix the batter well.  Use non-iodized salt (rock salt), as iodized salt can hinder fermenting of the batter.

I got the tip from my friend that you want to mix the batter well with your clean hands, as that adds a little warmth to the batter.

The consistency of the batter should be as shown in the below picture. Flowing easily, but not runny and not too thick. If yours is thick, then add some ice cubes or cold water and mix well with your hands.

Consistency of Idli Dosa Batter

Fermenting the batter 

You can ferment the batter in a warm place.

In normal or warm climate regions, you can ferment on the countertop. It can take anywhere from 8 hours to overnight to ferment the batter depending on the outside temperature.

However in cold regions, you can keep the batter to ferment in the oven with the lights on. The light gives enough warmth to ferment the batter. When I keep in the oven, it takes about 12 hours to ferment the batter well.

If you have an instant pot, you can use the “Yogurt” mode to ferment the batter.

Start the instant pot in the “Yogurt” mode on normal setting.  Press adjust until the display shows 8 hours.  Then press “+” to change to 12 hours.  Cover instant pot with a glass (or steel) lid and let the batter ferment.

It is important to use a glass lid, and not the instant pot lid as sometimes the batter can overflow and lock the lid.

Idli Dosa Batter in instant pot covered with a glass lid

After 10 hours, the batter should have risen up, which means increased in volume. If it has not risen enough, place the glass lid again and leave for a couple of more hours. 

It would be frothy on the top, and airy with some bubbles.

Perfectly fermented idli batter in the instant pot

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.

Idli batter or `dosa batter fermented in the instant pot

Tips and Tricks for perfect batter

  • Use very cold water or ice cubes when grinding the batter, as that helps to not heat up the batter when grinding.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Common Questions

What can I use to substitute methi in idli batter?

There is no direct substitute for methi seeds. You can skip them and still make the batter.

My batter did not rise. What could be the reason?

There could be many reasons for this.
1. Always use non-iodized salt. Adding iodized salt can hinder fermentation.
2. The batter sometimes gets too warm when grinding. Add ice cold water or ice cubes when grinding in a high powered blender.  
3. The batter should also not be too thick or too runny. It does not ferment well if it is not the right consistency.
4. Mix the batter with clean hands before fermenting. This helps with fermentation.
5. The right amount of warmth is needed. If you live in a cold place, it can take longer to ferment. Place the batter in the oven with light turned on.

What can I do with the batter if it did not ferment well?

There is good news here. Even if the idli don’t turn out soft. The batter will work great for dosa and uttapam. Here is my recipe for dosa where you can check how to make dosa.

Making idli & dosa with this batter

You grease the idli molds with ghee or oil.  Then add small amount of batter in each mold.

Idli batter in molds

You can steam the idli’s in a stovetop idli stand such as the below. Add water to the bottom of the stand. Then cook for 12 minutes on high flame.

Idli being cooked in an idli stand

If making in the instant pot, add 1.5 cups of water to the instant pot and let it boil in sauté mode. Place the idli stand in the instant pot and cook it in steam mode in venting position.

The thing to note is that the timer on the instant pot does not work in the venting position, so you have to use a separate timer.  In 12 minutes, the idli will be ready.

A stack of 3 fluffy spongy idli's

Let it stand for 5 minutes, then take the idli out of the mold. Enjoy with sambar and coconut chutney.

Idli, Sambar and Chutney in a plate

You can use this same batter to make dosa. If the batter seems thicker, you can mix a little water and stir well before making dosa. The batter is spread on a griddle to make dosa, which is why it needs a thinner consistency.

Dosa being made on a cast iron griddle

Serve dosa hot with sambar and chutney. Make dry potato bhaji to stuff in the dosa.

Dosa with sambar and chutney in a steel plate

Storing Idli Dosa Batter

I like to prepare idli dosa batter once on the weekend and use it for the whole week to make idli, dosa and uttapam.

Initially, right after the batter is fermented make idli’s. This helps to get the best idli with the freshly fermented batter.

Then I use the batter for the rest of the week to make dosa for lunch or dinner. And onion tomato uttapam for breakfast on another day.

You can store this batter for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Hope you try this Idli Dosa Batter. Please do let me know if you have any questions as you try this recipe. I would be happy to clarify and add more details.

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4.90 from 48 votes

Idli Dosa Batter

Learn the easy recipe to make Idli Dosa Batter, along with tips and tricks to grind using a blender and ferment to perfection. This batter will result in soft, spongy idli's and perfect crispy dosa.
Prep Time: 5 hours
Cook Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 17 hours
Servings: 35 idli

Ingredients 

Instructions 

Soaking

  • Rinse urad dal with water until the water runs clear. Then soak it in a bowl with enough water. Add methi seeds to the soaked dal.
    Soaked Urad Dal with methi seeds
  • Rinse idli rice with water until the water runs clear. Soak it in a separate bowl.
    Soaked small grain rice in water
  • Soak the dal and rice for 4 hours or overnight.

Grinding

  • Drain the water from the dal and rice. 
  • Transfer the dal to the high speed blender (or a wet grinder) and grind to a smooth paste. Add cold water or ice cubes (about 1/2 to 1 cup) as needed to grind the dal. Transfer the batter in the instant pot steel insert (or another large bowl if not using instant pot). 
  • Transfer the soaked idli rice to the grinder and grind to the smooth paste. Add cold water as needed to grind to a fine paste (about 1.5 cups). Transfer the batter to the same instant pot steel insert.
  • Add salt and mix the batter well using your clean hands for a couple of minutes. The batter consistency should neither be thick nor runny, but rather it should be free flowing.
    Consistency of Idli Dosa Batter

Fermenting in Instant Pot

  • Place the steel insert in the instant pot and cover with a glass lid (do not use the instant pot lid, as sometimes batter can overflow and lock the lid). 
  • Set the instant pot to Yogurt mode for 12 hours by pressing the Adjust and + buttons.
  • After the time is complete, the batter would be fermented and ready to use. If the batter has not risen well, ferment it for couple of more hours. The batter should be frothy and airy on the top.
    Perfectly fermented idli batter in the instant pot
  • Enjoy idli or dosa made with the batter.

Fermenting batter without instant pot

  • If fermenting without the instant pot, transfer the batter to a large bowl and prepare it as mentioned adding salt and mixing with clean hands. Then place it in the oven with the lights on (or on the counter in warm climate).
    Idli Dosa Batter fermented in the instant pot

Steaming Idli in Instant Pot

  • To make idli, grease the idli molds with ghee or oil.  Then add small amount of batter in each mold. If making in the instant pot, add 1.5 cups of water to the instant pot and let it boil in sauté mode. Place the idli stand in the instant pot and cook it in steam mode in venting position (or a pressure cooker without whistle). The thing to note is that the timer on the instant pot does not work in the venting position, so you have to use a separate timer.  In 12 minutes, the idli will be ready. Let it stand for 5 minutes, then take the idli out of the mold. Enjoy with sambar and coconut chutney.
    idli steamed in the instant pot

Notes

Pro-tip: If you are new to making Idli Dosa Batter, then I highly recommend reading the whole post as I share lots of tips and tricks to get the perfect batter. 
Blender: I used a high speed blender (Vitamix) to grind this batter. You can also use a wet grinder.   
Storing batter: You can store the batter in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 
Dosa Batter: If you plan to make only dosa, check out this recipe for perfect Crispy Dosa.  

Nutrition

Calories: 95kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 3gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 134mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg

Additional Info

Course: Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine: South Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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115 Comments

  1. HI Meeta, thank you for the detailed recipe. I followed it exactly and mt batter fermented. I used 1:4 ratio and did for 10 hours but somehow even after adding water when I tried to make dosa the batter was not spreading easily it kept breaking. Any ideas what I could have done wrong?

    1. Hi Ayeesha – Good to hear the batter fermented. I wonder the spreading issue is due to how hot the pan is. For dosa, you need to heat the pan really well, spread some oil, then clean it with a paper towel. Then cool the pan down slightly before spreading by sprinkling a little water and then wiping it clean with a kitchen paper towel (you can also use an onion. Cut an onion, insert a fork in it and then dip the onion in some oil. Then use that onion to rub the pan with oil. This cools the pan along with oiling it). I hope that helps.

  2. Hi Meeta, I will definitely try this at the weekend. I just wanted to ask, you mentioned you don’t use the IP inner pot for anything else now. Why is this? I’m new to IP and only have 1 inner pot. Which I’ll be using for everything. Can I still ferment and use to cook food in it?

    1. Hi Bhavisha – I meant while the batter is fermenting in the instant pot for 10+ hours, the pot cannot be used for other dishes. After you have emptied or used the batter, and Clea ned the inner steel pot, you can definitely use it for any other cooking. Hope you enjoy your new instant pot!

  3. Hi Meeta! This looks like an efficient way of making idli batter. Do you mind sharing which Vitamix model you use and the attachments that you have. Thanks

    1. Hi Krupa – I have the 5300 model. The specific model number is VM0102D. That said, I got this over 3 years back, so there may be better models now. The only attachment I got is a smaller jar which I use to grind spices and chutneys. I have seen newer models which come with 2 jars now too.

  4. Hi meeta your recipe explain very well.i really thankfull to you so much To bring you these recipes for us

  5. Hi,
    I am so happy to look idli batter with vitamix and insta pot.
    What vitamix setting you use to grind? You said around a minute? But any specific setting you used,
    Also does this idli stays soft when it gets cold? I always want to send to my FAther in law in tiffin but it gets hard..

  6. Just a note regarding the Salt .
    Adding Salt at the time of grinding or while keeping for fermentation does not allow proper fermentation . Hence , add salt to the batter the next day ( just before steaming the Idlis ) . Any salt can be added at this time ( not necessarily Non-iodized / Himalayan Salt ) .

    1. Hi Veena – Thank you for sharing. Based on my experience, the batter has always fermented well with non-iodized salt. It does work without adding any salt initially too.

  7. 1. To make the idli soft, you need to adjust the consistency of the fermented batter. When leaving for fermentation we usually leave the batter slightly thick. After fermentation, you will find it bubbling. If it’s not leave for some more time.
    2. After fermentation, check for the consistency, there should be sufficient water for them to cook softly.
    3. Dont over cook. Once the first batch of idli is ready you will get a clue the optimal time required for each batch.
    4. Enjoy. 🙂

  8. Hi Meeta,
    I made this batter last night in the instant pot and it fermented beautifully! I ended up fermenting the batter for a total of 16 hours because I did the grinding earlier in the day. I was pleasantly surprised that the batter was not over-fermented and smelly. I think the non-iodized salt- himalayan pink salt- helped.
    However, I made idlis in the morning but they came out dense and hard. Not spongy and soft.
    My second attempt I added some Eno fruit salt before steaming and those came out cracked and domed tops but still not soft.
    I used regular rice (not idli rice) with methi seeds and urad gota for the batter. Do you think the type of rice is the issue in my preparation?
    Thank you!
    Bobbi

    1. Hi Bobbi – I am glad to hear the batter fermented well. I do always use idly rice for batter. So that could potentially be the issue. For steaming the idli’s, if you steamed in the instant pot, what setting did you use? Did you keep the valve in venting mode or sealing mode?

      1. Hi Meeta!
        Thank you for response! Is there a brand or type of idli rice that you recommend? I apologize if you have already mentioned in your post.
        I used my 6 qt instant pot for steaming on high for 15 mins with valve on vent. Did I do something wrong?
        Thanks again!

  9. I’ve made this recipe once a week every week for the past 3 weeks and wanted to tell you thank you so much for posting this! This alone has made owning an Instant Pot totally worth the money. I love this foolproof recipe, my idlis turn out perfect every single time! Thank you for this.