Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dosa / Idli / Uttapam Batter Recipe ~ Tips & Tricks

I had thought for a while that whether I should post about making the idli / dosa / uttapam batter recipe. I have not grown up with it. Nor did I have seen any of my family members or relatives making idli / dosa in home. I grew up eating lots of rice, dal, aloo posto and a good amount of fish, and trust me, there eating idli or dosa was a luxury and all of them had to be bought from the market or restaurants. That is why, I wanted to write this post, to describe the difficulties I faced, and how I overcame them. As a Bengali, this is my humble attempt to help those (specially those who are not familiar with making Idlis and Dosas in home) , who want to make these dishes but are facing a hard time.
There was a restaurant called Madras Tiffin in Hatibagan, which used to be our soul destination for eating Dosas. There was another South Indian restaurant in front of my college, but there the price was so high that we preferred eating Fried Rice than Dosa / Idli.

how to make a perfect dosa batter

My mother makes perfect Neer Dosa, but I like the basic lentils and rice batter Dosa more. So after my marriage when I took a special interest in cooking, I almost immediately leaped into making dosa. The recipe was simple. I followed everything. But the perfect dosa I craved for never really came out. Also...the swirling on earth I am supposed to do that??

tips for making a perfect dosa and idli batter and method

I vividly remember the Sunday morning, on which I planned to make my first masala dosa. I prepared the batter, the potato masla, the sambar, the coconut and ginger chutney....and after everything I started making dosa. But I faced not one...but a number of problems there. First my batter started sticking to the pan. I faced hard time to scrap it out. It turned out rubbery and thick. And the dosa started to stick tomy ladle when I started to swirl it.
For Idli, I had different problems. They did not become fluffy. It was stiff, too much sticky and did not puff up well.

crispy dosa batter recipe
This is the consistency you need to make a dosa, The idli batter should be a little thicker than this, which you can pour with a tablespoon

I don’t know where I went wrong...but I guess these are the common problems that we face, when we try to make the dosa / idli in home. So with all my trial and errors, and finally succeeding in making a perfect Dosa batter, I am here to point you out the things that we must do to have that perfect Idli or Dosa.
Well....there are obliviously special procedures that you have to undertake to make that perfect crispy dosa and idly, but the first thing that you have to keep in mind is to make a perfect batter.
First I will share the recipe of the batter, and then the tricks and tips.

Dosa / Idli / Uttapam Batter

how to make dosa and idli batter

1 cup urad dal
2 cups of rice (use parboiled / idli rice for making Dosa batter. Do not use Basmati or any other kind of rice. They really don’t work much) - increase the amount of rice for a crispy dosa and reduce to make soft dosa and idli
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
1 tsp smbar masala (optional)

Wash the rice and urad dal separately, till clean water runs out.
Then soak them into water in separate bowls for 6 hours.
Soak the fenugreek seeds with the urad dal.
After 6 hours grind the urad dal and rice separately, with the help of the same water in which they were soaked. Do not mix and grind, you should grind them separately and then mix.
The paste you prepare by grinding should be smooth. Do check in the end, and if required grind again. It should not be coarse or grainy to feel, but smooth and soft. This is the reason that soaking the rice and urad dal for a long time is so much required.
Put the batter in a warm place. If the weather is comparatively cold, then put the batter inside the micro oven.
Let it ferment for 10-12 hours or overnight.
The next day, it should become double in size, and you will get its fermenting smell.
Take the amount of batter you need to make idli / dosa / uttapam and put the rest of them into the fridge. Do cover it up before putting inside the fridge. It will be best if you put them in an air tight container or cover with a plastic film.
Mix in the baking soda, salt and sambar masala to the batter that you are making right then, and make idli / dosa / uttapam.

Tips & Tricks:
·         It’s very necessary to use the parboiled / idli rice for making the batter. Do not use any other rice but that particular one.
·         Soak the rice and urad dal at least for 6 hours or more. The softer they get, the easier it will be for you to grind them into a smooth paste.
·         Grind the urad dal and rice separately. Do not mix.
·         Make sure that the ground rice and lentils paste is smooth. They should not be grainy. Pay special attention while grinding the rice. They may take longer time than the dal to become smooth.
·         Do not use a lot of water to grind them. Start with a little, and then if required add little by little to make the paste. Remember it’s the runny batter that sticks to the pan. Try to make the pastes as thick as possible. You can make the consistency as per your choice at the time of cooking.
·         We need thick batter for making fluffy idlis and crispy dosas. You can dilute a little water to it, when you are making soft dosas.
·         The fermenting process is long so try to let them ferment over night and in a comparatively warmer place. Preferably the oven. Preheat the oven at 200F for 10-15 minutes and put the switch off. Then put the batter into it.
·         Always put the batter in a large pan because it is going to double up in size.
·         If you do not have a wet grinder, it’s not a problem. Simple blenders will do the same job. They will just take a longer time.
·         Always cover the batter when you put them in the fridge. If you are making a large batch of batter, then put them in separate containers, corresponding to your usage quantity. In that way, the batters used last will not become sour.
  • Traditionally the fresh batter is used for making idlis. It is said that the fresh batter is not very much stirred and hence has all the air bubbles in it, which originated because of the fermentation. These air bubbles are the responsible for fluffy and spongy idlis.