Fermenting Idli Dosa Batter In Cold Climate
Idli Dosa Batter is one of the most common things in my house apart from my parathas. Traditionally the batter differs but I make one. Fermenting Idli Dosa batter is easy if you follow some tips and tricks.
Idlis are steamed savory cakes originating from South India. Dosa is a savory crepe made using either the same or different batter. The most common Idli batter is using Rice and Black lentils/gram.
Making and Fermenting Idli Dosa batter at home is easy and not that difficult. I know everyone dreads the batter part and most of them even buy the ready ones. However it can be easily done at home. Yes it takes a bit of a time to grind the batter, but once you start doing it you will not turn back.
I never buy or hardly have bought the ready ones except in case of emergencies. Reason we never liked the Idli batter. Secondly I just do not make one type of Idlis. I can say that I make more than 10-15 different types of Idlis and the variety is increasing every other day. No I am not talking about just adding vegetable purees to the same Idli batter, but using different types of batters. I use a range of different grains , dals, and cereals to make different types of batter.
Types of Idlis I make
The typical or the first type of Idlis I learnt from my mom is this traditional Idli using Rice and Urad dal and this one, which uses no rice. I.e. the Split Green Moong Dal Idli. It used to be common in our house on at least 1 Sunday of a month. Another one is this Bajra (Pearl Millet) which uses the millet Bajra.
Instant Idlis or Veggies Stuffed Idlis
Few more no rice and Instant Idlis on my blog are this Instant Oats and Dali (Broken Wheat/Cracked Wheat) Idli, or this Instant Ragi Idli or Instant Carrot Semolina Idli and Instant Semolina and Vermicelli Idli. Paneer is stuffed in this Palak Paneer Stuffed Idlis and Beetroot is sneaked in this Beetroot Idli/Uttapam batter.
Different Fermented Idli Batters
With fermented batters I do make, Ragi Idli, Quinoa Idli, Little Millets Idli, Jowar Idli , Horse Gram Idli (2 Varieties) and many many more. I have been making this for the last few years and hopefully will share the recipes sooner. Most of the time, I am not able to click before they are all gone. As said earlier I use the same batter for Dosa and uttapam too. I make Sada Dosa, Masala Dosa, Instant Ragi Dosa.
Fermenting Idli Dosa Batter
So without diverting further let’s get back to the core of the topic today Idli Dosa Batter. I am no expert and not a South Indian, but this is with my experience and learning over the years. I might be wrong, but whatever I am saying below has worked for me.
Common Problems people face are
- Batter not getting fermented and specially in cold countries.
- Idlis are not turning soft and have not puffed up.
Lets address the first problem. I am currently living in a cold country. Temperature here is generally below 15. If it goes above 15 C it is considered as a hot wave, even in summers. So you can understand how difficult it would be for me. I have made my batter this whole winter and temperatures were anywhere between -7 to 5 C and with hardly any Sun.
Still I manage to ferment my batter every time. How I do this?
- Earlier I used to Soak the rice and dal together and make a batter. Call it my laziness. Yes my mom used to do it separately, still I did not. I never faced an issue back in India with this method, but here I do. So why really you have to soak them separately. Simply because they both are different types of grains. Grind the dal smooth and fluffy. This helps the batter to ferment well.
- Add water only as much as needed to grind the dal smoothly. Scraping the sides of the mixie bowl helps. Add a tablespoon at a time.
- If you are making only dosa it would be still fine to soak them together, but if you are making idlis, it is better to soak them separately.
- I always use 3:1 as the rice and dal ratio, for non rice idlis too, it is 3:1 with 1 part of urad dal generally. (Have mentioned in individual Idli/Dosa post the ratio, please follow them accordingly).
- I use split or whole urad dal and even the black variety at times.
- Idli rice is the rice I use for all my batters. I used to use the Ukada rice variety back in India. At times I even use the Kerala red raw rice variety.
- I add fenugreek as it helps in digestion.
- I do not like to add soaked poha and leftover rice to the batter as it changes the consistency of the batter. We love our Idlis a bit grainy. But it does help in the fermentation process so you can add around ¼ cup of soaked poha or used rice while grinding if you want.
- I use my regular mixer grinder to grind the batter. I do not have the special mixer and grinder.
- Mix the whole batter thoroughly using your hand for a good 2-3 minutes. Do not worry, just clean your hand and do it. Hands are your best friends in cooking. Mixing the batter with your hand really helps, so do not skip this process.
- The batter needs a good warm environment to ferment well.
To create a warm environment one can do the following:
- Wrap a blanket around the container and keep it in a place in your house where it is warm. Even if you get a tiny bit of sunlight it is fine. I do not like this only because if it overflows it spoils the blanket.
- Keep the container in the oven, with oven light on for 2-3 hours. It is not needed for the oven light to be on for the whole time or for hours. It is simply a waste of resources according to me. Once it is on for 2-3 hours, it creates a warm environment sufficient enough to ferment the batter. The below batter is fermented with oven light on for just 2-3 hours.
- If you have done any baking at all in the oven, your oven would be hot on that day. So one of the best uses of the remaining energy. Let it cool down a bit, so that it does not scorch the batter. Once it is warm, keep the batter inside.
- Warm the oven slightly (you should just be able to feel it warm and not hot) switch off and keep the batter inside it. The warmth generated is sufficient to ferment the batter.
- For the last 1 month, I have been following another trick. I keep the batter near one of my heater radiators. In this way I am not wasting any resources and I am happy with the fermentation.
- Mind you I have tiles in my kitchen and my kitchen is cold.
- I used to add salt earlier but now I just add ¼ of the required quantity before fermentation. Adding salt helps in the fermentation process, especially in cold countries. If you are in a hot environment skip adding salt earlier. Add it only after the batter ferments. This helps in the batter staying good for long.
- Time required will be around 16-24 hours in colder countries. It will not ferment just overnight or 6-8 hours. So be patient.
- If you are keeping it in an Oven, do not open the oven door. All the heat generated will be escaped.
- Do not close the container tightly, just a loose lid on top.
- Try to use a steel or a glass container for the batter.
- Lastly do not forget to keep a plate or a tray at the bottom. If the batter overflows you would be in a mess.
Storing and Using After Fermentation
- Once the batter is well fermented mix, add salt and use as required.
- The batter keeps good in fridge for 4-5 days. I have not used beyond that as it gets over by then.
- Once stored in fridge it is advisable to remove it and keep it for at least 30 mins outside and then make Dosa. I do make it immediately at times too due to lack of time.
- For Idlis the consistency is a bit thick And for Dosa a bit thinner.
- To make Uttapam, I use Idli consistency batter.
Follow the above and I am sure you would be able to successfully ferment the batter in cold places too. Also you would be able to solve the second problem of getting soft and fluffy Idlis always.
Here goes the recipe for Basic Idli Dosa Batter:
- 1 Cup Urad Dal
- 3 Cups Idli Rice / Ukda Chawal (Rice)
- 1/4 tablespoon Salt (Read above on how much you can add or skip )
- 1 tablespoon of Methi Dana (Fenugreek Seeds)
- Wash the Urad Dal and methi in water for 2-3 times.
- Separately wash the rice in water for 2-3.
- Soak the Urad dal and methi in one bowl, and Rice in another bowl.
- First grind the Urad dal with minimum water to fine and fluffy consistency.
- Grind the rice too with minimum water.
- Add 1/4 tablespoon of salt and mix everything with hand for at least 2-3 minutes.
- Keep it in a warm location for 8-20 hours (depending on location, read above)
- Once fermented make Idlis or Dosas as required
- 1 Cup Urad Dal
- 3 Cups Idli Rice / Ukda Chawal /Rice
- 1/4 tablespoon Salt (Read above on how much you can add or skip)
- 1 tablespoon of Methi Dana (Fenugreek Seeds)
Wash the Urad Dal and methi in water for 2-3 times.
Separately wash the rice in water for 2-3.
Soak the Urad dal and methi in one bowl, and Rice in another bowl.
First grind the Urad dal with minimum water to fine and fluffy consistency.
Grind the rice too with minimum water.
Add 1/4 tablespoon of salt and mix everything with hand for at least 2-3 minutes.
Keep it in a warm location for 8-20 hours (depending on location, read above)
Once fermented make Idlis or Dosas as required
I have already shared the basic Idli Dosa batter earlier. However I have not shared all my ways to ferment the batter. Today I am updating my post for the same.
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