Idli and Dosa are a Common Breakfast or Dinner in any South Indian Home. Making Idli Batter in India is not at all a problem, it is a very easy task.. But when I came here to Jeddah after Marriage, I struggled a lot to get perfect fluffy Idlis and Crispy Dosa.
The first problem was I didnt have a Grinder and came to know that no Grinder is sold here. The next problem, I didnt get Whole Urad Dhal here in the local Markets. I got both Black and White(Skinned) varieties but they were only Split/Broken Dhal. The next one, I didnt get Idli Rice. I was highly frustrated.
Finally I tried with the available Broken Dhal and Raw Rice in a Mixer. The next day, when I opened the container, I was very much shocked as it was not fermented and was in its own size. I never knew that Batter may not ferment. What to do with this batter?? I made Idlis (with lots of courage). It was like a flat stone. :-( I tried Dosa, with even more courage. It came out ok but no one can eat one whole Dosa. Through surfing, I also came to know that batter does not ferment well at higher altitudes too.
I tried many methods and adding less rice in a Mixer gave me quite positive results. I added few cooked Rice while grinding and baking Powder while mixing. This made Idlis look like Idlis but not good in taste. Few weeks later, to our surprise we found Idli Rice in one of the shops far away. This time Idlis were little fluffier and tasted good but not as stone ground Idlis.
I brought Stone Grinder and many packets of Whole Urad Dhal the next time I visited India. Now I make the batter, just like that, so easy, like a lean Tamil Hero handling Gundas.
Ok.. Coming to the batter, I have drafted ideas and methods/ways to make the perfect batter so that the beginners can understand and need not suffer like me.
Whole Urad Dhal 1.5 cup (200ml cup)
Idli Rice 6 cups
Fenugreek Seeds 1 ½ tsp
Baking Powder (Optional) ½ tsp
Salt 5 tsp or to taste
Soak Idli Rice for 6-8 hrs. Soak Urad Dhal along with Fenugreek Seeds for 2-3 hrs. Soak Urad Dhal with twice its quantity of water as it expands when soaked.
Grind Urad Dhal and Fenugreek Seeds till smooth using a Stone Grinder with enough water. Keep it aside.
Grind Idli Rice with enough water.
Add the ground Rice batter to the ground Urad Dhal batter. Add Salt and baking Powder. Mix well with hand. Make sure the salt does not accumulate at one place. This batter should neither be watery nor be thick.
Keep it in a large container overnight for fermentation.
The next day morning, tiny bubbles can be seen at the top of the batter and the batter would have raised double the quantity or more. Do not stir. Idli can be made with this batter or can be refrigerated for future use. If the batter is thick and you feel water can be added, take the required amount of batter in a separate container and add little water and prepare Idlis.
Idli can be made with this batter for the first 2-3 days or till the sponginess exist at the top of the batter. Dosa can be prepared with the remaining batter for the next two days. Stir and add water when using the batter for Dosa.
If you still have the batter after 4-5 days, it would become more sour. So add Rava and make Rava Dosa OR add Onions, Chillies, Curry Leaves and make Onion Oothappam.
Serves two members for 4 days.
How to Grind Urad Dhal and Idli Rice in a Grinder:
First add half cup of water for Dhal and one cup of water for Rice (150ml cup) in the Grinder. Then add handful of dhal / Rice twice and start grinding.
As it grinds, add little water and Dhal/Rice alternatively till you complete adding it.If the stone moves slow or gets struck, it denotes less water has been added, so add water.
Few Dhal/Rice usually lies on the sides and corners of the Grinder. In this case, stop it for few seconds, wipe them to the center and continue grinding.
Grind till it becomes soft adding water if necessary.
Grinding this way ensures we have added not more but enough water and the Grinder works well for more years.
Idli Rice takes more time to grind than Urad Dhal. Idli Rice cannot be ground to smooth like Dhal. But how much better it is ground, the better is the batter.
Ratio of Whole Urad Dhal : Idli Rice is 1:4. If Idli Rice is not of the best quality, reduce the quantity of Rice, say 1:3.
Soak Idli Rice and Urad Dhal separately. Soak for more hours if the water used is very hard.
Avoid Split or Broken Dhal as it does not help much in raising the batter. If broken Dhal is used, use 1:3 ratio.
For best results, use Stone Grinder for grinding.
Grind Urad Dhal and Idli Rice separately.
Use Aluminium or Plastic Containers for refrigerating the batter.
Grinding with a Mixer:
Use 1:3 ratio. Use 1:2.5 if broken Dhal is used.
Add Cooked Rice while grinding.
Baking Powder is a must.
Use cold water as Mixer becomes hot very soon.
Grind in batches giving some breaks in between.