Are you attempting to make dosas with your leftover idli batter and wondering what the rules are? If yes, read on….
Obviously, this post is not for the veteran 60-year-old South Indian mami – a pro – who is probably wondering what the fuss is all about. Take idli batter, water it down, make dosas – “is this rocket science, Swetha? Itha ellam oru post aa??” Ok, sorry, sorry mami, you please carry on with another blog post!! Might I suggest my healthy rava laddoo recipe to you? Just kidding, of course!! 🙂
Honestly though, with all the info on batters – there’s so much to understand – idli batter vs dosa batter, can I make dosas with idli batter, what are the do’s and don’t while making dosas from idli batter – it might as well be rocket science!! I am sure there are plenty of people who are still stuck with many doubts and questions.
Fear no more, there is no shame in having basic, fundamental questions with regards to batters. I have been there myself, and I am here to help you navigate those questions as I did in the past.
Idli vs Dosa batter
While an entire book can be written on batters (poha, raw rice, parboiled rice, idli rava (yada, yada, yada…); here’s the gist of it:
- Idli batters have more urad dal compared to dosa batter. The urad dal in the idli batter gives the lift and the sponginess.
- Dosa batters have more rice content. The rice in the dosa batter gives you the crispy texture and deliciousness. A friend of mine does (8:1 gasp!!) proportion of rice: urad dal and has fed me one of the most fantastic dosas I have ever had.
The urad dal in the dosa batter is there only for the pure purpose of activating the fermentation process. I know, I know, it kills me a little on the inside knowing that the carbs provide the yumminess factor here (truth hurts!!).
- Adding fenugreek seeds to the dosa batter (which is optional or less in idli batter) gives a unique, authentic taste to the dosas. You can skip it, no major harm, but the foodies will not approve!!
- Dosa batters are more watery than idli batters and you are going to see below the proof for it.
Dosas with leftover idli batter
So, often there’s leftover idli batter. Can you make it into dosas?
Heck, yes!! Abso-freakin’- lutely!!
You can make dosa’s out of anything – even non-fermented grains (think rava dosa), non-fermented lentils (pesarattu), out of just urad dal batter (urad dal dosa) or even wheat flour (godhumai dosa).
So, there are no rules, really or no dosa police waiting to handcuff you :)!! Find batter, try dosa – now whether or not people are going to enjoy said dosa is another matter.
Dosas made from idli batter: An experiment
Experiment part 1: Dosas made directly from idli batter
Say, you got some leftover idli batter (1:3.5 ratio urad dal:rice). Hmm, you think “looks runny enough, seems spreadable. can I make dosas with it?”
Take Idli batter
Get tava heated, pour on tava
Spread on tava:
Experiment part 2: Dosas made with the same batter, but watered down a bit:
Water down batter with 1/2 cup water:
Pour on heated tava
Spread on tava
Just the addition of water makes the batter thinner, increases the level of surface heat and creates a much better dosa.
Let us compare them side by side:
Idli batter dosa: – Look below – Not porous enough, a little hard & gets tougher as it cools.
Watered down Idli batter: More porous, soft and delicious. They also stay soft for a longer time.
So, can you make a dosa with plain idli batter? – Yes, of course!! But you can make a better dosa by watering it down just a bit.
If you are in the very early stages of cooking, where even the making of any dosa is good enough, then all these details don’t matter.
But, if you are like, “I got to up my dosa game to the next level”, then I hope these tips help. I hope the pictures helps in adding to the knowledge base of batters. [Homework exercise (hahaha)- look at the picture of urad dal dosa (made from plain urad dals) and now look at the regular dosa. Are you now starting to see patterns and the connection between the batter and the resultant dosas?]
What are your common batter questions? Or do you have a favorite tip or technique? Post your thoughts and comments below. As always, I look forward to reading them.
Swetha, that was an interesting and engaging write-up. About 12-13 years ago when I wanted to make idli/dosa batter I came across so many proportions of Urad dal to rice that I was confused. After trying out a few variations in the ratios, we have now settled at 1:3 (urad:rice) ratio and use it for both idlis and dosas (with dosa batter being a bit more watered down). Your blog on this topic is a good refresher brushing up on the basics. I will try a dosa batter with higher % of rice to make it crispy as that’s what the kids like to eat.
Thank you!! Appreciate the tip and your comment!! 🙂
I make just idli batter 1:4. I love the traditional soft spongy, fluffy dosas. I will quickly soak and grind rice and add to a small batch of well fermented idli batter to make crispy dosas for my children. The fenugreek in the batter helps to create a richer color when dosas are made. Too much fenugreek and you will have dosas that stick to your tava.
That’s a fantastic tip. How long do you soak the rice for?
I usually soak raw rice for about an hour. The vitamix makes it a breeze. Hate getting the grinder out for small amounts. I have friends who add a small pinch of besan for color. I don’t like the addition. For about two cups of batter, I soak about 3/4 of a cup raw rice. I don’t much care for the dosas that are so crisp they crunch.
Sounds easy enough. I will try this technique next time I make dosas. Thanks!!
Post a picture when you try.
Fantastic writing style and thanks for clearing the fundamentals…
Such a lively article!!!
Thank you Aditi!! 🙂
Jean le Dionysien
Hello, I just try to make dosai for the first time. I took parboiled rice and split urid dal to make the batter. When ith as fermented, I pour some in the pan. But it doesn”t make a pancake, just a a kinf of mash. What is the problem with me ? Thank you ! 🙂
Hi Jean, dosa making process takes a lot of trials and errors. Even South Indian cooks early on can go through many bad dosas before they get the rhythm.
The temperature of the pan is very important. It should be very high when the dosa is cooking, but should be lowered slightly in the beginning by splashing water when spreading the dosa.
Also, the fermentation ratios of the ingredients are important to get a good dosa. Please check out YouTube videos or find a local teacher to guide you through. Please do not be discouraged. Once you get the hang of it, it will become very easy.
Jean le Dionysien
Hello Swetha, Thank you very much for answering. I thought like you that it could be due to a question of the temperature of the pan. Thank you for encouraging me to continue !
Swetha, I tried making dosa on non-stick pan. Dosa 1 cooks fine. But dosa 2 leaves the pan and cooks with uneven brown patches. I think it leaves the pan due to addition of ghee for cooking dosa 1. Wiping with paper towel has not helped. We don’t use onions. And washing and reheating pan between every dosa is impractical. Please help!!!
Hi Kanu, if the pan is too slippery, it will come out. I know you may not like this answer, but I really, really love the quality of dosas I make with my cast iron tava. It has those tiny pores in it that will get the batter to stick well when wet and leave when cooked and browned.
Try wiping your non stick tava with a cotton cloth rather than paper towel. Maybe that will get all the grease out. Also, sprinkle some water when wiping to ensure thorough cleaning.
Hope that works!! Rooting for you :).