Idli, Dosa, and Uttapam Batter

For the batter,
Idli rice – 2 cups
Urad dal – 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
Cooked rice or rice flakes (called aval/poha) – 1/2 cup (do not use both)
Salt – 2 tsp (or to taste)
Water – as needed

For idlis,
Batter – as required
Oil – for lightly greasing the molds

For dosas,
Batter – as required
Ghee or oil – as required

Batter: Wash the rice, dal and fenugreek seeds in cool water a few times. Soak them in a generous amount of water in a large bowl for at least 4-6 hours. If you are unable to grind the batter that day, you can refrigerate the rice and dal and use the next day.

When you are ready to grind the batter, wash and soak the aval/poha in water for 5 minutes, just enough to soften it. Skip this step if you are using cooked rice. You only need either of these ingredients, not both.

Fill the blender only half-full with the drained rice and dal. Add water to just come up to the level of rice and dal; do not add a lot of water. Grind to a smooth consistency (a fine sand-line gritty texture is also fine). Do this in batches if needed.

Pour the batter into a large container. Make sure to fill the container only halfway, to allow room for the batter to rise during fermentation.

Mix the batter well with your clean, bare hands. Cover the container lightly and rest in a warm place (on the countertop or in a toasty oven) overnight.

Once the batter is risen (it will also smell fermented), add salt and mix gently to combine.

Make idlis and dosas with this batter. Refrigerate the batter if not using immediately to prevent further fermentation and souring of the batter.

Idlis: Fill the steamer vessel with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lightly grease the idli molds with a few drops of oil. Pour the batter to fill the molds. Slightly under-fill the molds so that the idlis have room to rise.

Place the molds in the steamer vessel, cover with the lid, and cook for 8-9 minutes. You can check if the idlis are done with a toothpick (it should come clean). If you overcook, the idlis can become dense and hard.

Remove the hot idli molds from the vessel, let cool for a few minutes, then gently remove the idlis with the help of a spoon. It should come away easily since you greased the molds.

Dosas: Place the well-seasoned dosa pan on medium heat.

Sprinkle a few drops of water, if it sizzles, the pan is ready. Add a few drops of sesame oil to the pan and gently wipe with a wad of paper towel.

Pour a ladle-full (around ΒΌ cup) of batter in the center of the dosa pan. Starting at the center, quickly make concentric circles of increasing diameter with the rounded cup of the ladle. This will form the dosa shape. Pour a few drops of ghee or oil on the dosa and around the edges. Cook for a couple of minutes till the bottom is golden brown, then flip with a wide spatula and cook the other side for a few seconds. If you have spread the batter thin enough, you may not even need to flip the dosa. Remove the dosa to a plate and serve immediately or keep it warm while you finish making more dosas.

Serve idlis and dosas hot along with sambar, coconut chutney, tomato chutney, chutney podi, etc.

Uthappam: Use the regular dosa batter to make thick, pancake-like dosas. Top the dosa with finely chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies, cilantro and pinch of red chili powder before turning it over and cooking the other side. You can also add grated carrots and other vegetables like fresh peas. This is a great option for using up leftover dosa batter that has become too sour.

NOTES:
1. If the blender motor becomes hot while grinding, turn it off and wait for some time before starting it again.

2. If your dosa pan becomes too hot, use a lightly moistened towel to wipe the surface.Then add a few drops of oil, wipe with a paper towel, and make the rest of the dosas.

3. Dosas can also be made like a thick pancake without spreading the batter thinly. In this case, you will definitely need to flip and cook the other side too. Such thick dosas are called spot dosas or set dosas.

4. Leftover idlis can be stored in the fridge overnight. Re-heat them gently in the microwave or in a steamer vessel. Dosas on the other hand, are best served fresh.

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