Can Idli Batter Be Used for Dosa?

Both idli and dosa are popular South Indian dishes. Maybe you have some idli batter leftovers and want to make dosas with it. However, you’re not sure if this is even possible.

Let me reassure you right away – you can make delicious dosas out of idli batter. In this article, I’ll show you how to do so.

If you’re new to Indian cuisine and have never heard of idli before, I’ve got you covered as well. Read on to find what exactly is idli and how idli batter can be used for dosa.

two plates each with dosa pieces on them topped with herbs

What Is Idli?

Idli is a tasty, traditional Indian dish made of fermented rice and lentil batter. It’s fluffy in texture, soft to the touch, and packed with nutrients. Even though it’s mostly popular in South India, you can find it all over the country.

A general rule of thumb is to serve these savory treats hot and dip them into chutney (condiment) or sambar (vegetable stew). I highly recommend dipping idlis into garlic chutney.

Due to its vast popularity, you can find plenty of idli variations: rava idli, malli idli, and many others. The rava batter is made with semolina, not rice, and malli is idli fried with coriander and curry leaves.

Make no mistake – idli is a dish packed with protein and calcium. The cooking method that includes soaking the lentils and fermenting them enhances their nutrients. Even babies can eat idli!

Making Idli Batter

The two main ingredients you need to make this savory dish are rice and lentils. In some modern recipes, the rice should be cooked beforehand. However, traditional methods call for soaking both the rice and lentils (separately), blending them, and then fermenting the batter.

Depending on your time and resources, there are two main methods to making idli batter.

Using Rava

Rava, also known as sooji, is made from durum wheat and comes in semolina form. It’s one of the most popular ingredients for making idli. Even though it is more convenient for use, rava isn’t widely available worldwide; you can find it almost everywhere in South India since it’s the cradle of idli. Being a staple food for millions of Indians, making idli with rava streamlines the process as you don’t have to grind the rice.

idli on circular plate with bowls of sambar

Using Idli Rice

This is a more traditional method that involves grinding the rice. You can use idli, parboiled, ponni, masuri, or parmal rice. Today, most Indian families use a wet grinder or blender to grind the rice. A wet grinder is the closest you can get to the traditional stone mortar and pestles used for making the batter. If you have a blender, feel free to use it and add poha seeds for fluffier idli.

Tip: If you have a wet grinder, it’s best to use it for making larger batter quantities. Otherwise, you can use a blender.

Make sure the lentils (urad dal) are white in color to make your idli batter soft – this is a sign of freshness. Also, use non-iodized salt, and make sure you place the batter in a warm corner of the room, at around 85°F (29°C). Leaving it there for at least 12 hours will allow the fermentation process to take place.

Now that you’re familiar with some of the basics of idli batter, here are the steps you need to follow to make one. These instructions cover making idli in a traditional way, with grinding the rice and dal.

  1. Use a 1:4 ratio for dal: rice.
  2. Soak rice and dal for six hours. It’s best to soak them in the morning and prepare them in the evening.
  3. Add the water from the dal to your wet grinder or blender. Add a pinch of salt. However, if you live in a warm place, add salt only after the fermentation process. Add ¾ of a cup of cold water and blend it nicely.
  4. Add more water if the batter is too thick. Make sure not to make it too runny.
  5. Move the batter to a large bowl. Note that the batter will double in size during the fermentation process, so make sure the bowl is big enough.
  6. Grind the rice in the blender or wet grinder, then add it to the batter and mix thoroughly. It’s best to combine with your hands.
  7. Leave the batter in a warm place for at least 12 hours. Note that it might take up to 18 hours for the batter to double in size. This solely depends on the room temperature. The higher the temperature – the faster the fermentation process.
  8. After the fermentation takes place and your idli is nice and soft, make sure to mix it gently.

Your batter is now ready for making idli.

Can We Use the Same Batter for Idli and Dosa?

Absolutely. If you have some idli batter, you can easily convert it into dosa batter. Here are the main differences between the two:

  • Idli batter contains more dal, and dosa batter has more rice
  • Dosa batter has a waterier consistency, while idli batter is thicker
  • We mix and grind the idli batter ingredients separately, while for dosa, dal and rice are combined from the very beginning. This makes dosas thinner and gives them a crepe-like consistency
dosa on a plate with two bowls one with chutney and one with yogurt

How to Convert Idli Batter to Dosa Batter

Since idli batter is thicker, you’ll simply have to add more water to convert it to dosa. Start with adding ½ a cup of water and mixing the batter. You want your dosa batter to be nice and porous. Next, you can proceed to make dosa by adding the mixture to your tava. Make sure to put some oil on the edges and around the dosa.

Note that you can also make dosa with plain idli batter. It will be less porous and a bit hard, but it’s still an option. If you’re a beginner at Indian cuisine, these two methods won’t make a lot of difference.

In Summary

Yes, idli batter can be used for dosa. You can either make dosas out of the plain idli batter or add some water for a better result. Whichever way you decide to go, your dosas are sure to turn out delicious. Our final recommendation – add water for a more authentic, porous texture for your dosas.