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5 from 2 votes

Fermented idli and dosa

Fermented rice and lentil cakes and pancakes
Prep Time12 hrs 10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time12 hrs 20 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Indian, south indian
Keyword: dairy free, fermented, vegetarian


  • 2 cups medium grain brown rice
  • 2 cups urud dhal (split black gram)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 handful cooked brown rice (optional) could be basmatic
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda if making idlis. Skip for dosa
  • 1-2 cups water Use extra water if required
  • coconut oil / ghee


  • Rinse the rice several times under running water
  • Soak the dhal, seeds and rice in a large bowl with enough water, for around 4 hours
  • Add the water and the cooked rice (if adding) to a high speed blender (I use my Vitamix)
  • Drain and add the soaked rice mix into the blender
  • Blend on low, moving to a medium speed for around 2-3 minutes. Add more water if needed
  • Blend till slightly coarse and not too smooth
  • Pour this batter in a large mixing bowl and use your clean hands to mix it in (the bacteria in your hands helps it ferment even better)
  • Cover the bowl with a tea towel and keep it in a warm spot in the kitchen to ferment overnight (in winter, you can put it in the oven with just the light on)
  • The next day, you can add the salt and more water if you need and mix well (You will find that there are bubbles on the surface of the batter and it has risen a fair bit)

To make idlis

  • Add enough water in the idli steamer to ensure it doesn’t dry out while steaming the idlis
  • Put it on the stove on high heat and bring the water to a boil
  • Add the bicarb to the idli batter
  • If you have an idli steamer, rub a bit of coconut oil / ghee on themoulds and fill them ¾ of the way to the top
  • Put the idli moulds inside the steamer and cover with the lid
  • Let it steam for 7 minutes
  • Keep the lid on and let it rest for around 3-4 minutes
  • Use a spoon to take the idlis out of the moulds
  • If you don’t have an idli steamer, you can use a well oiled bowl or plate with high sides in a double boiler. Depending on the size of the plate /bowl, steam till the idlis come out well formed and not sticky.

To make dosas

  • Start with a flat pancake pan heated over medium heat
  • Season the pan with a bit of ghee and wipe clean with a cotton napkin
  • Pour out a ¼ cup of batter onto the middle of the pan
  • Wait for a few seconds forthe batter to stick, then begin to spread it thinly to form a pancake shape
  • You could then add a ¼ tsp of coconut oil/ghee
  • Cover the pan with a large lid for the dosas to steam and therefore cook quicker
  • Once you see the edges brown, uncover and with a spatula, flip the dosa to cook on the other side
  • Let it cook for about 30seconds and then transfer the hot dosas into a hot box (this is an insulated container that keeps food hot for hours)
  • Serve hot with sambar / chutney / chutney puddi


Do not leave the batter out any longer once it has fermented. This makes the batter very fluffy and the dosas too soft and it doesn't quite form. 
If you don't have an idli steamer, you can use any bowl or high sided plate and put it in a steamer.