Rinse rice 2-3 times, until the water runs clear. Soak in enough water for 6 hours or overnight.
Rinse dal 2-3 times until water runs clear. Soak in enough water along with fenugreek seeds, for 6 hours to overnight.
Blend Rice & Dal Separately
Drain water from rice and add to the blender. Add 1½ cups of ice-cold water and grind to a smooth paste using the smoothie button. If needed, add another ½-cup water to get a fine consistency. Transfer this batter to the same Instant pot insert.
Drain the water from dal and add to a high-power blender. Add 1¼ cups of ice-cold water and grind to a smooth paste using the smoothie button. If needed, add another ¼ cup water till you get a pancake batter-like consistency. Transfer the batter to the instant pot steel insert.
Add Salt & Mix
Add salt and mix the batter well, for one-to-two minutes. At this point, the consistency of the batter should be like pancake batter - neither too thick nor runny.
Ferment Batter in Instant Pot
Place the steel insert in the Instant Pot. Cover with a glass lid (not the Instant Pot lid as batter might jam the seal).
Select Yogurt mode and set a time for 12 hours using the +/- buttons. Adjust to 'less' or 'low' mode. At the end of this time, the batter should have risen to almost double in size and should look slightly frothy. If it doesn't look fermented, cover the lid and set it on yogurt mode for another 1-2 hours. (The total time varies between 12-14 hours depending on the climate, variety of rice and dal.)
Fermenting Batter in the Oven
Transfer the batter to a large bowl with enough capacity to handle the fermented batter (almost double in size). Add salt and mix as per directions.
Place it in the oven with the oven light on. Leave it for 12 hours or overnight. For extra insurance against the batter overflowing, place a baking sheet underneath.
To Make Idli:
Grease an idli mold and spoon in the fermented batter, till about ¾th full. Don't overfill.
Place 2 cups of water into the steel inner pot of the Instant Pot, then place in the filled idli stand.
Secure the lid, close the pressure valve, vent set to 'VENTING'. Select 'Steam' and cook for 12 minute at High Pressure. The in-build timer of the Instant Pot doesn't work on steam mode, so set an external timer for 12 minutes.
Remove the idly stand and let it rest for 1-2 minutes. This prevents the idli from sticking to the mold. Using a pairing knife, run around the mold to release the idli from the mold. Serve warm with sambar or coconut chutney.
To Make Dosa:
Pour 1 cup of batter into a bowl.
Slowly add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the batter is slightly runny (you may need 3-4 tablespoons of water total).
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, drizzle a few drops of oil. Then using tongs wipe it off with a wet kitchen towel. This creates an evenly heated surface for dosa.
Ladle about ½-cup batter onto the center of the pan, and using the back of the ladle, spread it around the pan in circular motion, till it creates a smooth and even layer. Cook for about 30-40 seconds. The edges of the dosa lift from the pan when the bottom side is done.
Sprinkle a few drops of oil on top, then flip and cook the other side for 30 seconds. Serve with sambar, coconut chutney, or stuff with spiced potatoes for masala dosa.
To Make Uttapam:
Add a few tablespoons of water to adjust the batter to a flowing pancake batter-like consistency. (for uttapam, I keep the batter thicker than dosa, so I only use 1-2 Tablespoons of water).
Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat, drizzle a few drops of oil, then ladle the batter onto the pan and spread it a little to make an even disc. Cook for 30-45 seconds, till the bottom is golden brown.
Sprinkle with diced tomatoes, onions and/or green chilis, and chopped cilantro, then flip and cook the other side for 30 seconds. Serve uttapam with sambar.
Idli rice is the ideal choice. However, if you cannot find it, substitute any short-grain parboiled variety of rice such as sona masoori or ponni rice. I wouldn't recommend using long grain rice for this recipe.
For best results, use whole urad dal, also known as 'urad gota'. If you cannot find it, use split urad dal, just as I have in this recipe.
Use pink salt (Himalayan salt) or sea salt. Regular table salt contains iodine, which can interfere with the fermentation process. If you want to use table salt, add it after the fermentation process.
Use ice-cold water. This prevents the batter from over-heating during the grinding process.
The right amount of water depends on the brand of rice and lentils. For rice, start with 1½ cups of water, then add another ½ cup as needed. For dal, start by adding 1¼ cups of water, then add another ¼ cup as needed.
I highly recommend a high powered blender (or mixie, as it's known in India). A smooth, ground batter is key to fermentation. I use a Blendtec (Vitamix would also work) and grind the batter using the 'smoothie' button.
Grind dal and rice separately. Rice and lentils both have very different end textures when they are ground. It is important to grind the lentils and rice separately for a smooth consistency.
Consistency of the ground rice batter will always be a bit grainy (not a lot). It should also be thinner than the lentils batter, like a melted milkshake.
The consistency of ground dal should be absolutely smooth. Rub a little batter between your fingers, it should feel buttery-smooth. If it's grainy, grind for another 30-40 seconds.
For proper fermentation, it is very important to mix the two batters well for about 1-2 minutes using a spatula.
The consistency of the mixed batter (rice + dal) should be like a thick pancake batter after mixing. Neither too runny or too thick.
A properly fermented batter should double in size. The consistency will be thicker and look a bit frothy in appearance.
Use the Instant Pot glass lid. The batter is thick, so there is a chance it will jam the seal on the regular Instant Pot lid.
Adjust the Yogurt mode to 'less' or 'low'. This is an important detail to keep in mind as the yogurt mode in the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) has 2-3 heat adjustments.
Total time for fermentation may range from 12-15 hours, depending on climate and temperature. Here in California, it takes me 12 hours in the peak of summer, 13 hours in spring and fall, and 14 hours or so during winter. To find out what time works for you, I recommend setting it at 12 hours. Then, check the batter and adjust the time accordingly.
If you don't have an electric pressure cooker, use the oven to ferment Idli-Dosa batter. Assemble the batter as per instructions and place it in a bowl that can handle the capacity after fermentation (almost double). Place it in the oven with the oven light on. Leave it for 12 hours or overnight. For extra insurance against the batter overflowing, place a baking sheet underneath.
If trying a variation with poha, simply rinse and soak 1 cup poha along with the rice.
Store the batter in an airtight container in the fridge for one week or in the freezer for one month. Cook as much as you'd like for a tasty breakfast or afternoon treat.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates based on 30 idli. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.