Idli and dosa are the most popular south Indian breakfast food and it is a well known fact that idly and dosa are a very healthy food, even better than having Oats for breakfast. The health benefits of Urad dal are explained in our dedicated page on Urad dal. Idily and dosa become more healthy when the idly dosa batter is fermented overnight and the beneficial bacteria in the urad dal multiply. We explain in detail below how to make idli and dosa batter in a mixie
How to grind idli batter in a mixie at home is very easy and we explain how it can be done below.
The proportion of rice to urad dal can vary from 2 parts of rice to 1 part urad dal upto 6 parts rice to 1 part urad dal. This is a personal preference, some people tend to add more rice into the dosa mix due the cost difference of rice and urad dal. Generally with a higher proportion of urad dal in the dosa mix you get soft idli and fluffier better tasting dosas. It is also advisable to increase the ratio of urad dal in the dosa mix simply because urad dal is healthy for everyone and for diabetics it is advisable to have less of rice in the dosa mix.
The main idli Dosa Ingredients are rice and urad dal. Most people add about a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds per 2 cups of rice. If you are a beginner, we suggest you start with 2 cups of raw rice, one cup of urad dal, one teaspoon of fenugreek and one teaspoon salt. These are the basic idli dosa ingredients. People of course always try to improve on this by adding ingredients like Asafoetida, Sambar dal, etc. You must of course add salt either during the dosa idli grinding process or the next day the salt is mixed in, after the dosa batter has risen.
The procedure for making dosa batter in a dosa idli batter machine, the wet grinder or mixie, is to soak in water separately the urad dal and rice for at least 6 hours. When soaking the urad dal, since it absorbs quite a bit of water, make sure the water level is over the urad dal and rice, about half inch above. It is better to soak fenugreek separatly in a cup with just enough water to cover the fenugreek. You need to soak the rice, urad dal and fenugreek minimum 4 hours prior to the grinding. When grinding make sure you add all the water used for soaking the urad dal and fenugreek, because these are the healthy ingredients in idli dosa batter. The soaking water of the rice can be used for top up and any excess can be thrown away.
The best time to grind idli dosa batter is in the evening and keep the idli dosa batter overnight for the batter to ferment and rise. So the best time to start soaking the raw dosa rice, urad dal and fenugreek is in the afternoon, say after your lunch.
The preparation of idli dosa batter in a mixer grinder or mixie is straight forward. Making idli dosa batter in a mixer grinder is as follows:
You need to first soak rice and urud dal for at lest 4 hours as explained earlier. It is best to first grind the urad dal in the mixie. Put the urad dal into the large jar and make sure that there is about an inch or 2 centimetres of water above the urad dal in the mixie jar. The mixie jar should only be half full, never try to do dosa batter grinding with more than half jar full. If you have more quantity, then do the mixie grinding in batches. Start the mixie at the slowest speed and keep it at that speed for about a minute. Stop the mixie and look inside the jar, the urad dal will now be a fine paste. Take out the jar from the motor base and pour the ground urad dal into a large pot. It will be thick, so use a spoon to scoop out the contents, as much as you can with the spoon, into the large pot. There is no problem if some urad dal batter remains in the jar, because you will now use the same jar to grind the soaked rice.
Add the soaked rice and fenugreek into the same jar in which you ground the urad dal. There is no problem if there are some left over urad dal paste in the jar. Make sure that the water level over the rice in the jar is only about half an inch or one centimeter. Also make sure that the jar is not more than half full. Grind for about a minute maximum. It is normal for the contents of the jar to become warm when being ground. If after one minute if the rice is still not smooth paste, add a little water, about quarter cup, and repeat the grinding for about 30 seconds. It should now be a smooth paste. Pour this ground rice and fenugreek paste into the same pot, over the urad dal. Repeat the process if you have more rice to be ground.
Once the last batch of rice has been ground and added to the fermenting pot, then add about half a cup of water in the mixie jar and run it for about 5 seconds. This is to clean the jar and at the same time use the last remnants of the idli dosa batter sticking to the sides of the jar. Keep this cleaning water aside to adjust the consistency of the idli dosa batter. Now you should use a big spoon to mix the dosa batter in the pot well. The Dosa batter thickness should now be adjusted with the water used to rinse the jar. The dosa batter consistency should be thick and flow from a spoon without breaking. Salt is to be added to the pot when mixing with the big spoon. Some will say that you should add the salt the next day after the dosa batter has risen. But in my experience it is better to add it the just after the grinding when you combine the dal and rice paste. Next day the batter will be risen and if you try to add the salt at this stage, the idli dosa batter will loose it fluffiness and you will not get soft idlis. Use about one tea-spoon salt for every 3 cups of rice and urad dal mix.
To make the idli dosa mixture to rise, the idli dosa mixture should be kept in a warm place overnight.
Make sure that the pot you use for fermenting the dosa mix is at least 2 times the volume of the ground dosa mix you made. Slightly bigger is even better, because sometimes the dosa batter rises to more than 2 times its original volume. Cover the dosa mix pot with a saucer or plate if you do not have a lid and keep in a warm place. If the night temperatures are below 20 degrees centigrade or 68 degrees Fahrenheit, then you have to think of several options to keep the dosa batter warm to allow it to rise as explained at the bottom of this page.
Making dosa by spreading the dosa paste mixture in a circular pattern on a hot dosa pan or tawa is easy. See the video of making dosa. The dosa frying pan or dosa tawa is an important part of the dosa making process. Some say the best dosas are made on a traditional cast iron dosa tawa as shown in the video above. When using the traditional cast iron dosa pans the problem of dosa sticking to pan or tawa may occur and so the use of ghee or oil is a must to get the dosa off the pan. Some say the best dosas are made on a cast iron dosa tawa, but a non-stick dosa pan or tawa will do just fine.
The advantage of using a non-stick Dosa pan is that you do not need to pour oil the way they do in the video above. Just rubbing a few drops of oil on the dosa pan with a tissue paper is enough. that way you can make healthy oil free dosas. In the Dosa Tips at the bottom of this page, we are giving some tips on how the problem of dosa sticking to the traditional dosa pan or tawa can be solved.
The Dosa Idly mixture rises overnight due to a process known as Fermentation. Fermentation is a process by which the good bacteria called Probiotic bacteria converts sugars and simple starches in the dosa batter to a more nutritious product with more protiens. During this process, the probiotic bacteria produce Carbon dioxide gas which makes the dosa maavu dough or batter to rise and convert the sugars into proteins and vitamins.
Thus the fermentation process of the dosa batter makes the dosa batter more nutritious. Since all the sugars and simple starches in the dosa batter are converted by fermentation to more nutritious proteins, it is a healthy food for us, especially for those who are diabetic. The glycaemic index, which is a measure of how fast a food raises our blood sugar, is low in fermented foods and it is especially good for diabetic people.
There may be two reasons for idli dosa mixture not rising or fermenting. First is that the climate is too cold. The good bacteria in the dosa batter requires a temperature of about 37.0 °C (98.6 °F) or about the same as our normal body temperature, to ferment the idly dosa batter properly. There are various methods of keeping the batter at the right temperature, like keeping the idly dosa maavu or batter inside an oven that was slightly (for about 3 minutes) pre-heated and then put off prior to placing the Dosa maavu or batter inside the oven.
Secondly, fermentation may not take place because the urad dal used in the idli dosa paste may have been irradiated with Gamma radiation by the customs authorities in advanced countries. The urad dal has to be imported by these countries and they usually irradiate all imported pulses to prevent weevils and such insects from entering their countries and destroying their crops and food products. When anything is irradiated, it kills everything including the native yeasts and live probiotics in urad dal. Irradiation also kills the Urad beans or any other beans and they will not germinate or grow into plants. When you use such urad dal in the idli dosa mix it does not ferment and rise. The best remedy in such situation is to use bakers yeast available in most grocery stores as dosa fermentation yeast
If you are using a non-stick dosa pan or tawa such problems rarely occur. But many think that dosas should not be made in non-stick pans but should be done in a thick bottom cast iron dosa tawa. Prestige dosa tawa is such a cast iron dosa tawa and it does have a non-stick coating which is not very effective, but is much better than trying to make dosas on the Indian flat cast iron dosa tawa.
There are many tips for avoiding dosa sticking to pan like oiling the dosa pan or tawa overnight and just before using wiping with a cloth and applying a fresh coating of oil. Gingerly oil is said to be the best for dosa making but ghee is just as good.
One of the most effective ways of avoiding dosa sticking to pan is by using an egg. Surprised! Yes it is true. Beat an egg without any salt and make an omelette in another frying pan using just a little oil. Before the omelette cooks fully take it off from the pan and put it in the centre of square piece of cloth and make it into a pouch by lifting the sides of the cloth and with the omelette like a ball in the centre of the cloth tie a string on top to form a tight pouch. Use this omelette pouch to rub the hot pan like you are applying oil to the pan just before frying the dosa. The dosa now comes out of the pan without sticking to it. You need to do it for one or two days only, after that the pan becomes seasoned and dosas will not stick to the pan or tawa.
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