How to ferment Idli batter? Tips & Tricks for making Idli Dosa Batter

How to ferment idli batter

Written by Mullai

Modest, friendly and hardworking.  "Virgoans Rule"..


  1. Jasmine

    Hi please help me. I am making idli dosa batter since long and has been grinding it in wet grinder and sunce then getting fluffy idlies and crispy dosas. I take-
    1 cup urad dal (as shown in the above pic by you?
    3 cups of idli rice
    Handful of poha
    Half to 1 cup of cooked rice.

    Now since last 2 times my idli is not puffing up and its too sticky to eat (not at all an idli actually) and not even able to make a dosa becoz of stickiness. Though it ferments in a very hood manner. I add salt to the batter after grinding. I grind rice for 30 mins and dal for 45 mins everytime. Don’t know what’s wrong since last 2 times. Do I have to throw the whole lot now?

    1. Mullai

      The above proportion mentioned by you is totally different from the one mentioned in recipe. For good idli dosa… 1 cup urad dal for 4 cups of idli rice with few teaspoons of the poha or cooked rice. But you are using too much of cooked rice and urad which could make your batter very sticky.
      I use the above proportion to make idli & dosa, sometimes it may take longer to ferment in winter but other than that never seen any complaints.
      Make sure you use less urad dal and cooked rice in your recipe and also grind rice to fine rava consistency and your urad to a soft fluffy consistency. (Follow the above instruction for how long to grind each)Give it atleast 10 hours to ferment in a warm place and you will never have to throw your batter again. Good luck and thanks for visiting my page.

  2. Mahi

    I’m trying to purchase a grinder. Could you please help me? Which one do you use?

    What are the best grinders you think are available in the market?

  3. Valli

    Hi I m using idli rice and urad dhal in the ratio 3:1 since my urad dhal is low in quality. And also I m adding poga and methi idli turns out soft and fluffy but it is sticky inside..could you please suggest me what is the reason for that?

    1. Mullai

      Dear Valli,
      Idlis turn sticky
      1. If you add too much water while grinding urad dal.
      2. If your batter fermentation is not complete.
      3. If you are using split urad instead of whole skinned urad dal.
      4. If you use more urad dal to rice ratio.
      even if anyone of the above happens then there are chances for the idlis to turn sticky. Idli batter had be slightly thick compared to dosa batter. Rice should be ground to fine rava texture. Try using rock salt or kallu upp / kosher salt for fermenting. Hope this helps and get back after trying a batch. Thanks for visitng!

      1. Valli

        Thanks a lot..definitely will try and give you a feedback. .how long time the batter will take for fermentation under switched off preheated oven?I ground rice for more than 25 it a reason for my sticky idli?

        1. Mullai

          I don’t know your location but if you live in India or tropical climate regions it will take 5-6 hours to ferment or even less if its too hot & humid – morning you grind and evening you will the batter ready! But on the other hand.. if you are from any cold area then in summer – soaking time 8 hours – grind, add salt and put in a warm place like microwave or even plain oven it should ferment the next morning.
          In winter its a different story – soak for 8 hours- grind, add salt and then put in (preheated& switched off) warm oven it may takes 10 hours to ferment.

          Rice grinding should be done within 15 minutes in a stone grinder to get fine rava texture – Urad dal with water should take only 20 minutes to fluff up. Do not grind urad dal for long time it will make the batter sticky. Again all this measure, time depends on the quality of urad dal & rice, how good your wet grinder stones look, temperature etc. You will have to figure out the best with few trials. Even I get to mess up sometimes as I don’t get the same quality or brands from Indian stores. I will try to update soon with exact measurements of water and time!

  4. Bernie

    Appreciating the dedication you put into your blog and in depth information you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed material. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  5. shireen


    For the commercial purpose :

    after packing the idly batter, the packet batter gets fluffy very soon..due to quick fermentation. share the tips to get delay in fermenting and packet not to get fluffy atleast for 2 days.

    Plz i expect the tips shortly


    1. Sujata menon

      Hi shireen,

      Did you get the reply to your query cos even i am facing the same would be great if you can share the same with me.

      Thanks n regards

      1. Mullai

        Hi Sujata,
        I don’t know about commercial packing and cannot guarantee anything on that but at home I follow these simple steps.
        After you grind, store in refrigerator, put a green chili and store in the inner most part of the refrigerator. This is delay the fermentation process.
        To speed up the fermentation, add a dry red chilli….
        These tips are from my mother in law and we do this all time at home and it works. I don’t know the science behind it but it works! Try and let me know. Thanks.

  6. Srimathy Bash

    Hi. By mistake I mixed both rice and urud dal together before soaking. Will soaking this mixture and making batter will cause any health problem?

  7. Resham

    I used to get soft idlis always (using idli rawa) in the proportion of 3:1 (rawa: udad dal) I also used to add all those poha n methi stuff…then from past 3 times, my batter does not ferment only!! Its summer!!
    Also when I use that unfermented kind of batter to make idlis, it is just flat in the pan after steaming and hard…..PLEASE PLEASE HELP!!

  8. sumi33

    hi mullai, ur suggestions are very helpful. thanks

    due to my work and long distance driving, i dont get enough time to soak the rice and dal and grind it next day. can i make a DRY grind of the idli rice and urad dal and make it into powder. can i just add water to the powder mixture and soak it overnight and use it to make idli’s ?


  9. Visitor 123


    thia is pranita and i used basmati rice from costco for dosa batter but it is not coming out good and ratio to urad dal is 3:1 plz help

  10. shalinivenkatesh

    hi mullai,

    I followed ur instructions for the idli dosa batter. It has always come out very well but for the past 3-4 times, my idlis do not come out fluffy. They turn out very flat upon steaming. Kindly advice where am i going wrong.


    1. gayu1981

      hi shalini

       yes, if we do not mix the batter after fermentation, spongy bubbles will help us get fluffy idlis only for the first couple of times. becoz when we keep rice and urad dal. after fermentation, urad dal is heavy,so its on top, it helps the idlis to puff, so as the batter gets reduced, at the bottom, only we have rice batter left, which will make both idlis and dosa hard and taste bland.

       i always mix the batter right away after fermentation, but very gently,..just to make sure both idl and urad dal and mixed from top to bottom..but i would not stir so hard. i will mix genty 3-4 times. i get fluffy idlis every time i make it,also dosais..hope it helps.

      1. shalinivenkatesh

        Dear Gayu, I mix the batter too but not very hard. The problem is that the batter on on top feels like foam rather than having an urad dal consistency, very posai posai. Even after mixing, it feels like semi foam. Kindly advice if i am putting more quantities of something or wat.

        thnkssss a tonnnn

        1. gayu1981

          hey shalini


          i saw this post after a longtime since it was posted. if the top portion is foamy,the reason could be 'more water'.if you add more water than what is necessary,it gets foamy..and when u steam, idlis get flattened also with a bad taste. next time try reducing the quantity of water. for urad dal- while grinding add 2 cups of water. for rice add 1-1 1/2 cup of water. hope it helps again!

  11. Appreciator


    thanks so much for this enlightening recipe… will surely try it out… Can u tell me the approx quantity of idlis ur recipe yields??




    By mistake i have added excess of salt in Dosa flour can you please tell me how to remoe that excess salt?Batter is too salty

  13. Krithiga Raja


    Here is my method of preparing Idly or Dosa batter. I am using 3cups of Idly rice and 3 cups of Jasmine Rice(I bought in Costco) and 1/2 cup of Urad Dhal(actually it is whole white “Jayam” brand Urad Dhal that i bought from India, may b the quantity should b increased when we use the Urad Dhal that we buy here)and 1tsp of Methi seeds. Soak everything seperately for around 8hrs. Grind the Urad Dhal for 40mins. Grind Rice for 25mins along with Methi seeds. Add salt and ferment the batter. The Idly is really soft and Dosa is also very crispy.

  14. shina


    Today I have used basmati rice 1 cup, 1/3 cup urad dal and 2 tablespoons of poha + 2 tablespoons of cooked rice as was mentioned in a recipe book. I soaked them in plenty of water and ground them to near fine paste and have left them in the oven with oven light on. Will this work? I want to make crisp dosas. If not what is the best way to make crisp dosas? My problem is that usually my dosas stick to the pan and refuse to come out. What can i do about this?

    thanks heaps,


    1. subhavignesh


          To make crisp dosa , one way is to add rava just before u make dosa or while grinding rice just add some cooked left over rice n if u feel that the dosa is sticking to the pan , the prob wud be that ur adding too much of water or there is some prob with ur pan. never use ur dosa pan for any other frying purpose. If its still sticking sprinkle some salt over hot tava n rub with tissue paper, may be this wud help u .



    2. AnanthiKarthikeyan

      Ananthi Karthikeyan Hi shina, If your dosa stick to the pan then try the following method. It is very useful, easy and proven method. My mother gave this idea and i always use this and it works. Before you pour the dosa mix in the pan, cut an onion and rub it in the pan. make sure you cover all the area of the pan. Then try to make dosa, it won't stick in the pan.

      1. vermagic

        Thank you so much! After fighting with my dosai, and winding up with pieces, I tried to onion method – it worked perfectly. Thanks to your mom.

  15. Lakshmi Reddy

    Hey thanx for your nice tips. Itz very useful. After seeing your tips im able to make soft idlies. Can i know how to make khusboo idlies?

  16. Arthi1011

    Hi Mullai,

    I have going thru your forum and have got some interesting tips.
    I recently bought dosa flour form Indian grocery store to prepare dosai, do you have nay idea how to prepare dosa batter with this flour.
    Also as u know its difficult to get the idli rice from indian grocery store, i ahve few options with me, can u help me with those:

    1. Can i use idli rava flour instead of idli rice and grind urad dal separately and mix the paste with the flour?
    2. Can u suggest me in san fransico or south bay, where can i get the idli rice or par boiled rice or raw rice?
    3. Which rice(raw or parboiled rice) is best to prepare dosai as i have preethi mixer?


    1. Mullai

      Arthi, ready made dosa flour mostly is a cobination of maida and rice flour. Each brand is different and comes in handy but taste and texture wise would never recommend those. This forum topic and few other idli dosa recipes under our site have bunch of info on idli rava and other related tips. Pls use the search and navigate. Swad, Dakshin, lakshmi are the most sort brands for par or raw rice. Thanks.

    2. Kars


      U can use idli rava for making hotel like idli’s but for dosa the consistency is not that gud.
      U can grind urad dal in mixie and mix with the idli rava (3:1 proportion of idli rice:urad dal)
      u shld pour sufficient amt of water when u mix the idli rava and urad dal to make to batter .

  17. mkselvi

    Hi all,

    I got a bag of Enriched Parboiled rice (thinking it was normal boiled rice).. This came out as a paste while grinding. So wasted whole 8 cups of rice .

    Has anyone used this rice? Please let me know.


    1. kraechel

      For all those who are stuck with sticky batter which is of paste consistency, try this-


      Mix same amount of raw ponni rice batter as the amount of rice taken to make the dosa/idli matter… It works most times and gives great results.


      Tip- Try with a small quantity


      1 cup raw rice

      1 cup parboiled rice

      0.25 cup urad dal



  18. kraechel

    Hi Mullai… Can you please let us all know if the Par-boiled rice from non-Indian stores are good enough for making idli/dosa?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Sureka

      Hi Raech even I am not getting idly rice anymore from Indian groceries. Recently I purchased Parboiled Basmati Rice and tried making idli and dosas. Came out really well. Made no difference. Hope this helps.

        1. Sureka

          Hi Raech I use 4:1. Rice 4 cups and Urad dhall 1 cup with little methi seeds. While grinding Urad dhall don't add too much water. If u get the consistency of the dough right everything will come out perfectly well. Have a good one.

          1. Sureka

            I don't add raw rice. Initially for 3 days I make idli's and from 4th day start making dosas. I got this from Indian store. I have seen some parboiled rice in stop and shop also.


    Dear MULLAI,

    Plz let us how to make IDLI a saleable product and earn livelihood from it. How we make it good ( maximum how many days it is good to sell in the market).

    Sandeep Singh

    1. Visitor1

      Dear sandeeph singh, idli tastes good only if its eaten fresh. It becomes hard when frozen or kept in fridge and it cannot be thawed.. meaning idli batter can stay in fridge for a week long if put in coldest temperature but not idlis.

      1. Sateesh Kumar

        Par-boiled vs Boiled Rice vs Puzhungal Rice vs Idli Rice what is the difference?

        My understanding is Idli Rice is Par-boiled rice and Puzhungal rice is Boiled Rice.

  20. Cappuccino

    Mullai ma’am, the uradal you have mentioned here is whole uradal (without skin) or split uradal(black ulundu with skin) Usually i use Whole urad without skin. Pls let me know.

    Have a great day

    1. Mullai

      Hi Cap, you can use even type, whole or split with or without skin. Its still the same proportion, skin type involves lot of rinsing and cleaning. So pick the one which is easier for you. thanks.

    1. keerthi_d

      i tried making idli batter with long grain rice with same proportion(4:1). the batter looked perfect. but idlis dnt turn out well. it was too sticky and stayed as if it was undercooked.even dosa was not ok, dnt turn brown and crispy at all.

      meena, im not sure wat long grain u ve mentioned, i tried with american long grain rice, available in uk markets. if any one has sucessfully tried with the same pls share the tips.

      1. meena vairavan

        Yeah keerthi, i tried with american long grain rice bought from walmart, the texture of idli never matched our indian idli rice…….

  21. dblakshmi

    hi friends,

    the ratio of 4:1 rice:urad da promises you with a soft idlies. Indian wet grinders will give the best results compared to blenders and mixers.

    few tips:
    1. grind urad dal first. soak with fenugreek seeds in cold water, put it in the fridge, soaking the urad dal for about 45 mts would suffice. while grinding use ice cold water this enhances the fluffy flour. do not add water in one shot. Initially add considerable amount water to the dal so that grinder is not stuck,constantly every 5 mts add little amount of water to the dal while grinding, grind till the yellow color of the dal turns white and when the grinder is stopped you get air bubble in the batter. Air bubble indicates the fluffiness.

    2. rice needs to be soaked for minimum 4 hrs.

    mixing both together with enough salt and allow it to ferment for 16 – 18 hrs depending upon the room temperature, refridgerate in smaller boxes(1 box should suffice 2 breakfasts or dinners).

    Though you mix the idli dosa batter uniformly with salt, the batter removed from the top of the mix is generally preferred for idlis, as you go down rice qty would be more so dosas are fine with this.

    we add 1/2 cup of raw rice to idli rice while grinding, this gives brown color to dosa.




    for khosbu idli plumpy idli they use to add kotai mutu that is avaliable in india add only 2-3 like fenugrrek get plumpy soft idli

  23. ksailaja

    Hi Mullai,
    Thanks for your tips and thanks to all for good discussion.
    But pleaase give me a tip to get softer idlies if u use idli ravva instead of rice


  24. kutti


    i tried making idlies using parboiled rice which i bought in grocery store (golden canilla enriched long grain parboiled rice). now am tired after being tried for several times. i tried 1:3 and 1:5 proportion. wen i put the batter in dosa pan it turned out to be very soft and doesnt come out from pan. the same thing happens for idli also. i just want to make use of my 20lb parboiled rice. any suggestions?

    1. Radhu

      Hi Kutti,

      I also brought 25lb Parboiled rice substuting Idly Rice. The first time i tried doing Idly in the ratio of 4:1 (Parboiledrice: Urad Dhal) it dint come well. Now i am using the Parboiled rice as boiled rice for meals. Its ok . But i am planning to try preparing idly dough in the ratio of adding Raw Rice:Parboiled Rice: urad dhal(2:2:1)

  25. fouzia

    i would like to know how to store idli batter made in excess. i have stored in 3 containers. the one tht i’l use tomorow , i have put in oven for fermenting. wht abt the other 2 ? do i simply refrigerate them without fermenting? or shud i freeze them ?

    or is it a better idea to ferment all 3 n freeze the batter of the 2 containers after fermentation? also by these methods , how long wil the batter last? kindly reply at the earliest !

  26. Vijitha

    Mullai, Thanks for the tips. I like to add one more tip to Idli Dosa batter.
    When making dosa batter soak couple table spoon of channa dal along with rice. I mean the dal which we use to prepare paruppu vadai/ Masala Vadai. This will give nice brown dosa like the one we get in hotels. If you forgot to soak add besan flour at the finishing stage of grinding process. I got this tip from one of the Dosa Specialist. VIJI

  27. Ron

    Hi Mullai,

    Huray!!! I tried your mouth-watery receipe fpr the first time.Its a big hit!! I tried ur famous Chicken Salna..It waz supposed to be a side for my rotis..But eventually it tuk over and ended up being a main dish..

    It waz really nice..and vry tasty..
    Thanks for all those recipes.


  28. abhimuthu

    While the batter is fermenting in the oven do not open the oven door to check if the batter has fermemted multiple times.
    After you put the batter in the oven after preheating, do not open the oven for 6-8 hours. If opened before the batter wont ferment since the oven loses its temperature.

    Do not soak rice/dhal in ice cold water which will delay the soaking process.

  29. Lakshmiganesh

    One more thing i would like to add is the water to urad dhal ratio should be 3:1…..soak 1 cup of urad dhal in 3 cups of water and use all this water for grinding the dhal….

  30. priyasudha

    For making just dosais, grind soaked urad dal first for 15 minutes, then add soaked rice along the urad dal grind both together..this version go well for making dosais, as we r all fan’s of dosai,i do as though..

  31. abhimuthu

    Fenugreek seeds yield soft idlies. I would also like to add that if you dont use fenugreek seeds the dosa’s will be white in color. It wont brown like normal dosas do.

  32. sworna

    You have suggested to place the batter in the oven heated to 400 degrees.I have a small doubt,wont that heat cook up the batter?

    1. abhimuthu


      It wont cook the batter. You are just preheating the oven to 400 degress and switching off after preheated. The temperature reduces gradually when the flour is kept in the oven, and maintains a uniform temperature which aids in the fermantation of the batter. This is to simulate the climatic condition in India.

      Only if you continue to keep the oven in 400 for 30 minutes will it cook the batter.

      Hope this helps.



  33. abhimuthu

    Nice tips and detailed explanation of each step. Idly e pannadhavangalukku kooda idly panna thonum.
    My mom says if we grind rice first in the grinder and then grind urad dhal, urad dhal wont grind properly. So I always grind urad dhal first.

  34. Ron

    Hi Mullai,

    Atlast i got my measurements for Idli mavu..

    I dnt have fennugreek but fenugreek powder..Is that fine to add 2tsp – fennugreek powder wth urad dal while grinding..

    Please advice.

    1. Mullai


      Raw fenugreek seeds has the aid to attract wild yeast from air to ferment the batter. Whereas the store powder is made after dry roasting the seeds and cannot do the same job. Its ok if you dont include but preferred for good results. Try a batch and let me know.

      1. Ron


         Thankyou Mullai..

         Let me try out without fennugreek and let you know abt it..

         Thanks a lot again .For the advice.

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