Fermenting Idli-Dosa batter without using oven/baking soda

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Idli-Dosa batter fermentation

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time:
  • Total time:
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Recipe type: Batter for Idli/Dosa (main dish)


  • Idli rice – 3 cups (leveled – used electric rice cooker cup to measure – 3 cups rice = 485 gm/1.07 lb)
  • Urad dal (Ulundhu/Ulunthamparuppu) – 1 + ¼ cups
  • Fenugreek seeds – ½ tsp.
  • Salt – 4 tsp.
  • Ample amount of water to grind.



My experiments with Idli-Dosa batter will continue as long as I stay in these snowy parts of the US. Yes, it’s end of March and it is still snowing. This snow season (December-March), I experimented on how to ferment idly-dosai batter without using baking soda/powder. I also experimented how to aid the fermentation of iddli-dosa batter without using oven during severe snow season. I took this experiment so serious that I even created a folder named ‘Idli-Dosai batter fermentation experiments – USA’ in my laptop. I already armed you with sack full of information to deal with the idli-dosa batter if they had attitude problems. Yet few of my readers contacted me to know how to ferment idly-dosai batter without using an oven or if they do not wish to use baking soda/powder for fermentation. This is a special post for them.


I used my electric rice cooker’s measuring cup (see below picture) to measure the rice and urad dhal (ulundhu). I used mixie (Indian blender) to grind the idli-dosa maavu (batter) since I do not have a wet-grinder. If you’re looking for how to achieve soft idli by grinding batter in mixie, click here. The link has step-by-step pictures showing how to grind idly-dosai batter in a mixer grinder. The link also has few tips on how to ferment idli batter without using oven.




Once you finish grinding the idli-dosai batter, close the vessel. Keep the vessel inside your cupboard/oven. [Remember, if you are using your oven, double check that your oven is switched OFF. You need not preheat your oven. You need not keep the oven lights ON.]


Now run the hot water tap to its fullest. Wait until steaming hot water starts to pour from the tap. Fill a large bowl with this hot water. If you do not have running hot water facility, boil a large bowl of water.


Keep this bowl of steaming water in your cupboard or oven (need not preheat or need not switch on the oven lights). I place the steaming water bowl just below the batter vessel. If it’s your cupboard, place the steaming water bowl little near to the batter vessel.


Close the cupboard/oven immediately. Do not open the cupboard/oven for few hours because we do not want the steam to escape. Do not disturb the batter too in the name of checking for fermentation.

iddili-thosa-maavu-rising-tips-cold-regions-1 thosai-maavu-ferment-tips-tricks-technics-1

Change this bowl of water with fresh steaming water every 6 hours or so.


This tip works like a charm. However this tip has a limitation. The limitation is, it takes 24+ hours (yes, 1 full day + 3 to 4 hours) for the idli-dosa batter to rise and ferment. Also, since we are closing the oven/cupboard we’ll tend to forget about the batter. So better set alarm, to check the batter Nerd smile.

After this 24+ hours of fermentation time, open the batter vessel. The iddly-Dhosa batter will say a ‘Good Morning’ to you with a happy face. Take required amount of batter for your  use and store the remaining batter in refrigerator immediately.


Do you see how beautifully the batter has risen in the below picture? A close-up shot.


Throughout this snow season I prepared Idli-thosai batter using this experiment of mine. It gave me same result as that of my previous experiment result. Even after arming you with all these results of my Idly-Dosai batter experiments, if your batter still denies to prove, inform me. I’ll send in my commando force to deal with the problem in your kitchen Hot smile

Mangala from Cooking.Jingalala.Org
Eat Well !

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Dear Readers,
Sure the recipe tastes far great than the pictures shown. To show you the process in making the recipe with step-by-step pictures and to show you the outcome of the recipes with some cool photographs, I spend quite a lot of time in photographing it without minding the food getting dry or limp or not-so-hot-enough for us to eat (or sometimes without minding that we are hungry :)

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    It is a very interesting technology. But my wife heat up the batter a little and keep it on the stove itself during cold season.

    Mohan, Mumbai.

  • Ramesh

    So did the heating of batter work.

  • diya

    just went through your information regarding “fermentation tips.”. thanks for that!!!:) more than that ur approach to the readers is really good…atitude is really good…god bless u

    • Hi Diya!
      Thank you so so so much for the support 🙂

      • diya

        hi Mangala,

        my dosa batter didnt ferment..that much…still i made an idli for my son….hmmm…..he ate…me and husband wont eat it….we want the sour one…so need to wait untill tmrw….

        • Diya,
          If the batter did not ferment yet, try this .I do this when the temperatures are way below 0. Heat a big bowl of water. Switch off. Place the vessel of batter in this hot water. This should work. I almost get spongy idlies fermenting this way.

  • Tara

    Have my own method to share. I make a nest for my idli batter. I take a large vessel made of insulating material like plastic(big casserole/dutch oven or unused pressure cooker also work v.nicely). It should have a fitting lid and the dosai batter vessel should fit inside completely.

    Then I line the bigger vessel with oven gloves and pot holders and thick kitchen towels. I warm this ‘nest’ of towels in the microwave for 30 seconds (or more – I check with my hand to see that it is quite warm) just before placing the idli batter inside. I put the vessel with the batter in the warm nest put more thick towels on top and close the outer lid. Then I carefully place the whole thing in the warmest cupboard (above my stove) in the morning when the heat is on in the house. By bed-time (8-12 hrs) batter has risen beautifully – i make idli for dinner or else refrigerate the batter. It never fails me and I can use my oven for baking during the day. I set yogurt the same way – but at night. My nest is permanent in my kitchen – if the towels get very dry from microwaving I sprinkle some water before microwaving. If idli is sluggish to rise I add handful of poha to the batter. If I need it in 2-3 hours I add 1-2 tsp of bakers yeast to the dough and keep it in the nest (prefer to not do this – but it is a fail proof method for well risen batter)

    • Hats off Tara…. thanks for the wonderful tips on Idli-Dosa batter fermentation during winter climate. Thanks for your time in composing your experience in fermenting the idli batter in cold regions.

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