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February 15, 2015

How to ferment Idli batter in Winter in Cold Countries

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Idli batter fermentation in cold countries

Hi Friends,
Today’s post is a very basic post about fermentation of idli,dosa batter in winter season especially in cold countries like Canada,US etc. I have got few requests from my readers to post some tips for fermentation in cold countries and a video to make idlis. Very soon i will make a detailed video post on how to make soft idlis. My younger sister Radha is in Canada.As u all know, Canada is one of the coldest countries in the world.My sis always makes the best  & super soft idlis in spite of the cold weather. So i thought she is the best person to clear all my doubts.When i asked her to make a post,she happily accepted my request & helped me a lot by taking step by step pictures and mailed everything clearly. Thank u so much my dear.Luv u!
I hope this post will help the people who is feeling bad & worried about making non-fermented,hard idlis. The tips i have shared here will solve the fermentation problems i feel. Friends,please mail me or leave a comment here if u have any tips to share.It will help everyone. Thanks for visiting this page.

My sister grinds the batter once in a week.The quantity she had mentioned below comes for 5 days.She makes idli for the first two days for both breakfast & dinner and dosa for 3 days.She uses Thanjore idli rice & plain packet of urad dal,not any particular brand.My sister’s friend Sukanya in US also follows the same method to make idli.

One more tip from my friend Shalini : When she was in US for two years,she used to keep the batter vessel near room heater and she told the batter gets fermented like the same in India.Try this tip too.

Ok,Here is the idli batter procedure along with the quantity of ingredients mailed by my sister.

ldi batter procedure
  • Soak 9 cups idli rice + 1 tsp methi seeds.Soak 2.5 cups of urad dal separately for 3 to 6 hrs. ( Half this quantity if you are doing for first time)
  • After soaking,drain the water and grind urad dal first adding enough water.Remove in a big container.Then grind the rice,add salt and mix it thoroughly with the urad dal batter using your hands.
  • Here is the picture of batter i got before fermentation by 4pm.Keep it inside the oven and switch on the oven light. Leave the batter for one full day(24 hrs).
Idli batter fermentation in cold countries-3
  • The batter is fully fermented the next day by 4pm.
    During this process the outside temperature was -23c and the heater temperature at home was 23c.
Idli batter fermentation in cold countries-2
Check out my idli,dosa batter post for grinding with stepwise pictures.My sis does the same way.You might also like

Soft Idli,crispy dosa batter using mixie

Soft idli using idli Rava

15+ Idli varieties collection

Some general tips for fermentation of idli batter


After going through some websites ,  i am giving some additional tips for batter fermentation. Hope it will work for you .
  • First recommended thing for batter fermentation is to mix the batter using ur hands..Mix the dal and rice batter thoroughly.. Uneven mixing causes failures. Mixing them by hand works best!
  • Don't forget to add the grinder washed water to the batter before'mixing it with your hands. But add very little. 
  • You can also add a handful of Poha or cooked rice while grinding the rice. It helps for quick fermentation.
  • A warm temperature is essential for fermentation. 25 to 28 °C (77 - 82.4 °F) will be ideal. If the weather is cold, keep some warm water in a large bowl and immerse the vessel containing the dough. To help maintain the temperature of the warm water bath, cover it with a blanket, or better, use a regulated heater, like a heating pad or aquarium heater. Even easier, turn on the light in the oven, and use that to keep the batter warm.
  • When u grind the batter, pre heat the oven in 90c for 10 minutes and switch off the oven.Now keep the batter covered inside the oven and turn the oven lights on.. It helps ..
  • Add 1/4 tsp of baking soda or baking powder to the ground batter and then ferment. It will help the batter to raise well in harsh cold conditions..Adding poha or cooked rice while grinding also helps for quick fermentation.
  • Allow at least 24 hours to ferment. If you don't see tiny bubbles the next morning, the dough will not rise and you have to start all over again.
  • If nothing works for u , try adding a fermentation starter like a spoonful of commercially prepared idli batter as they have live culture, it helps for fermentation..
  • Use chlorine-free water when grinding, as this will be the water that the batter will have in it when fermenting. Tap water will work, but will inhibit the ferment a little. Most modern water filters remove both chlorine and chloramine. Use non-iodized salt such as ‘Kosher salt’ and Use spring water, boiled or filtered tap water to avoid Chlorine/Fluorine.
  • I also read from Indus ladies that adding 1/2 tsp of ENO plain fruit salt for 1 cups of idli batter makes the idli soft even if its not fermented well.Please try this too but iam not sure how it works.
I hope u find this post useful . Thank you.Have a nice day !

Last but not the least,check out my
 15 Idli varieties here if interested.

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mullaimadavan said...

Very nice post with useful tips!

Priya said...

Very useful points.Same applies for yogurt as well.

C said...

I m getting soft idly in the first day of after fermentation. But when I use the same batter for next day I m getting little harder idlies

Unknown said...

From second day onwards to get softer idlis, we should keep the batter outside the refrigerator for a minimum of 1-2 hours before making Idlis. The batter should be in room temperature to get softer idlis.

Thava said...

When you keep in oven with lights on batter becomes very hard or thick

Chitra said...

Hi, If you grind the batter with right amount of water, it won't happen. Next time, add more water while grinding and leave it for fermentation. Batter will rise well too. Also if you feel the upper layer is thick, u can mix the batter till the bottom thoroughly and add little water to adjust the consistency.

Sudha said...

I'm making idli batter for the first time. My batter is risen but I don't understand if it is spoilt or fermented. Any help is appreciated.

Chitra said...

It must b fermented not spoilt. Just check for sour smell and make idli or dosa.

rajagopal said...

Yes i have done it for dosa batter soaked urad dal 1 and rice 3 soaked in water for 7 hrs grinded it with little poha and cooked rice added little baking powder kept it iver night for 8 hrs beneath the stove in the grill area with light on in the night which has raisen the temp well Morning u can see batter almost doubled with crisp dosas This is applicable in US or any cold country

Chitra said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. It will be useful for the readers :)

Chitra said...

Thava, add little more water next time while grinding the batter. This problem won't happen.

Unknown said...

I would like to add that by adding asafoetida dissolved in luke warm water also speeds up fermentation process

Chitra said...

Its a new tip. Thanks for sharing.

Dipak said...

Hi i am a student , i live in kolkata i make my mill my self , bun i can not make idli and i think that it make very difficult , but when i show your recipe it become so easy. But when i have no time i go to Friends Of Pho , there i got all types of recipes.

Unknown said...

i am planning to make idlis tomorrow night. I leave in Toronto, Canada and currently temperature outside is 9 degree. I have soaked 3 cups of basmati rice(since i do not have idli rava/parboiled rice handy) and 1 cup of urad daal with 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds in morning arround 8:30 AM. I will now grind the ingrediants as instructed in the post above after 8 hours and than give a good hand mix to the batter as instructed. I will keep the batter for fermantation in pre heated oven. However, my oven light isnt working. Will my batter still farmant well with no light on? Any special tip for me since i am at the initial step yet? Please advice

Chitra said...

Hi, Even my sister's oven has no lights. So you can try keeping inside the oven. It will take 15 hrs minimum to ferment. Also if you have leftover old idli batter, just add a ladleful of it to the new batter. It will help to ferment quickly.

Minu said...

Hi should I keep the lid closed inside the oven? Or partly closed?

Minu said...

Hi should I keep the lid closed inside the oven? Or partly closed?

Minu said...

Hi should I keep the lid closed inside the oven? Or partly closed?

Chitra said...

Hi, you can keep it fully closed.