Idlis & Dosas

Many cultures have ceased to make dishes that involve fermentation. Not that I fear Idli will soon become one but with many opting to buy idli batter rather than making it at home makes this dish a highly likely candidate. The weather in USofA does make it a tad bit more harder for new cooks to master this recipe. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts, practice is what makes the mastery of this recipe perfect. Like most South Indians you will find me paranoid about perfecting the technique to result in soft idlis comparable to how a handful of jasmine flowers feels like. The reference to jasmine flowers is as old as idli itself and is a yard stick used to measure how well a cook performs.


3 Cups Par Boiled Rice or Idli rice
1 Cup Whole Urad Dal with no skin

Optional Ingredients

2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1 tbs Thick Poha or flattened rice


Soak rice, urad dal, poha and fenugreek seeds separately in water for a few hours. Fenugreek seeds need to be soaked overnight. A couple of hours is sufficient for urad dal. The longer this is soaked, the less softer the idli gets. Poha also needs to be soaked for less than an hour depending on the thickness of the variety. Thinner ones needs less soaking time.

Grind the rice using a wet grinder along with the poha and fenugreek seeds in batches depending on the size of the grinder.

Grind the urad dal using a wet grinder. The Indian Mixie aka blender does not work for the urad dal as it does not aerate the batter like the wet grinder does. Add very little water while grinding. Again, too much water negates the aeration process. Let it grind before you add more water.

Mix the rice and urad dal batters with salt and leave it overnight for the batter to ferment. I usually leave the batter in my un-heated oven. Use a much bigger container as the batter almost doubles in size. The last thing you want is for the batter to overflow in your oven.

The following day mix the batter to let out the gases created as a by-product of fermentation. Use the idli making trays to make idlis. Scoop in less than a table spoon of batter into each of the slot. Lesser the batter in each slot, softer the idli turns out to be.

Fill the bottom of the pressure cooker with up to an inch or 2 with water. Pressure cook with no weight on for 20 minutes (does not matter how many idlis you load it with). Switch off after 20 minutes, open the cooker gently right away.

You could cool the racks and scoop the idlis with a spoon or rinse the back of the idli plate with running cold water and then scoop the idlis out. This cools the idlis a bit and they come off the rack without sticking.

Cool off for a bit and scoop it out with a spoon.

Serve hot with Tomato chutney or sambar or chilli powder.


I pretty much use the same batter to make dosa, once the idli batter has been sitting around in the refrigerator for a couple of days.


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