My husband and I recently invested in a Vitamix. The Vitamix, which most people might think of as an expensive blender, is a high-quality food preparation machine that can pretty much do it all. Its high price point definitely reflects that, which is one of the only off-putting things about this amazingly versatile kitchen tool. As a person who values simple and frugal living — why would we ever think about buying one of these newfangled, trendy machines?
The main reason: after many years of regular and consistent use, our blender broke. We prepare a lot of food which requires grinding/pureeing, and the blender we were using (which was decades old) just couldn’t take it any more. We decided it was time to upgrade.
The other reasons:
- It enables us to make more of our own food at home (which is healthier and reduces the amount of waste we produce in the form of food packaging).
- It is convenient. (The idea of preparing the food we choose to eat using manual methods is romantic and is something I am happy to consider doing one day, but it is not practical for our lifestyle right now.)
- We wanted to be able to grind idli/dosa batter.
Idli/dosa batter is typically made in a wet grinder, which is a tabletop kitchen appliance that uses granite plates to grind grains into pastes and batters. They are hard to find in the USA and costly to ship from India; importing one is almost as much as one of those fancy Vitamix machines. When we considered that, we thought, “Wait a minute… can you use a Vitamix to make idli/dosa batter?”
After my husband brought one home for Christmas, we immediately started the preparations for making our own idli/dosa batter.
How to prepare idli/dosa batter in the Vitamix:
- Measure the urad dal and idli rice (we use 1 cup dal & 4 cups rice). Place in separate vessels and soak for a few hours (edited to add: don’t soak for too long or the whole grains will ferment in the bowl and the batter won’t rise). Soak a spoonful of fenugreek seeds for color if using mainly for dosa.
- ‘Pulse’ the dal with a little bit of water until the batter is smooth. Pulsing (as opposed to blending) is done because continuous blending can warm/cook the batter. You should pulse for 2-3 minutes. (Warm batter is okay; hot is not.)
- ‘Pulse’ the rice in a similar way until silky smooth.
- In a large vessel, hand-stir the dal & rice batter together. The vessel should be large because the batter will ferment and rise.
- The batter prep is now done — now let the batter rest for a minimum of 8 hours (up to 24 hours if possible).
- When ready to use, add salt to taste. Refrigerate unused batter.
If you live in a cold climate (the ambient temperature in your house is below 80 degrees), you will need to put your batter somewhere warm. This usually means inside of an oven or by a warm radiator. Check out this post for more tips — I found it helpful after researching why our batter wasn’t rising on the countertop.
How to ferment idli/dosa batter in cold weather:
- Heat the oven until it’s warm, around 85-90 degrees F (30-32 degrees C). It’s not important to measure it exactly if you roughly know what 85 degrees feels like.
- Turn off the oven.
- Place the vessel of batter inside the oven. We partially covered ours with a loose plate but I don’t know if that’s necessary or not.
- Turn on the oven light (will help maintain the temperature).
- Let batter rest in the oven for eight hours. Try not to peek or you will let most of the warm air out and it wont’t rise as much.
- When ready, properly-fermented batter should have about about 25-50% more volume than when it was fresh as well as air bubbles on the surface.
When you are ready to make idli/dosa or any of their permutations, give the fermented batter a good stir and have fun cooking! 🙂