Help needed, please!

I am at my wits end!

I used to make perfectly good dosas when we were in London. Ever since moving to Leeds, my luck has dried up.

These days, every time I make the batter using rice, urad ratio of 3:1 and using a tsp of fenugreek seeds – it just does not work. Either the batter does not get fermented at all or it rises splendidly, only with a rotten smell! Just does not smell the way fermented batter should smell.

Just to be extra sure, I even tried making a dosa out of this smelly but fermented looking batter – but it tastes un-fermented too! My friends have advised putting the batter in a slightly warm oven, in the boiler room – but nothing works!All this used to work in London, by the way..

Then I thought that maybe my vessels needed sterilizing – tried that – and that failed the test too. Same result.

Then, I found some dosa mix which I had to whizz in the blender and then leave to ferment – exact same result! I have searched high and low on the internet – exhausted my mom’s tips.. And am now hoping that one of you will have some solution!

Any and all suggestions welcome!

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72 thoughts on “Help needed, please!

    • I agree with Dhiren – buy ready made batter which doesn’t need fermenting or ask the dosa expert Chef OG to come down an teach you…

      Chef OG is very expensive – his quotes give me nightmares ๐Ÿ™‚ We don’t get to buy ready made batter here, sadly

      Maybe it’s the weather? Is it colder in Leeds?
      It is colder in Leeds. Much colder than London- that must be the reason..

  1. u dont put eno or something for fermentation..i normally use that here and it always give good result..

    No, I don’t use anything else for fermentation… I always worked earlier.

  2. tch tch…
    its not coming out fine coz you’ve not invited us !!!
    even the dosa batter is annoyed with you now…..

    ๐Ÿ˜€

    Yes, Masood – That must be it ๐Ÿ™‚ So next time, I will give that a try too ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Change of hand ๐Ÿ˜› May be N needs to try it this time ๐Ÿ˜‰
    That will be the day ๐Ÿ™‚

    If u leave it at a warm place, it shud happen though ๐Ÿ™„

    Tried that – the boiler room is warm and so is the oven ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Nothing works!

  4. lol @ Masood

    have you tried making dosas from the un-fermented batter? My mom in law leaves the batter out for 3-4 hours only. She has to use a lot more oil than usual, but the dosas come out well.

    I actually like the sour taste of fermented batter. Both husband and I are so used to it that it tastes tastless otherwise ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  5. Ma says –

    After grinding, mix a bit of warm water – it could be because air isn’t passing thru and keep it overnight as usual (or for how many hours you usually keep). It might rise properly.

    Else, one more trick – add 2 tablespoon of moong dal also while mixing the rice + urad dal combination and keep aside for a while before grinding. And then during the time of grinding, add around 1 tablespoon of poha.
    this also might just work!

  6. i don’t like dosa much…i love tradational mallu breakfasts like pallapam,idiyappam,putu etc with right side dish ๐Ÿ˜€ …….mummmy are you listening thisssssssss ๐Ÿ™‚
    But i did made some unsuccesfull attempt 2 make dosa during my schools days :D(i forgot even, how to switch on gas stow now)

    Pallappam – I make very well ๐Ÿ™‚ Thats the only thing in the list you mentioned, I can confidently say that I can make ๐Ÿ™‚

    Dosas were never a problem for me before ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  7. Smitha reduce the quantity of udad dal,what i do is 3 cups of rice and less than 1 cup of udad dal and add 1/4 cup of cooked rice,you will get perfect dosa along with menthi seeds.

    btw un-fermented dosa is also good,my-law makes dosa within 1 hour of grinding it.

  8. Ususally if I am grinding in grinder, I use 4:1 ratio (Rice and Dal). If mixer 3:1.
    We keep overnight and also add salt and mis it with hand (For kai choodu)

    I don’t have a grinder here – so I use the 3:1 ratio. You mix by hand is it? I mix with a steel spatula – should that make a difference though? It used to work earlier ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  9. Smitha, did u mean 1 cup rice and 3 cups dal? I think the ratio is a bit off. I use 1 cup urad dal and 3 cups rice. I soak both of them separately and only for 2-3 hrs (the longer u soak the dal will refuse to increase in volume while grinding). Then grind both separately and then mix them with salt. (I add 1/4 c thick poha and 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds to the rice while soaking). This should work, I had a horrible smell once and found out that I had reversed the rice – dal ratio.

    • SJ! LONG TIME!!!!

      How have you been! It’s great to see you back!

      No I meant the other way around – 3 cups of rice and 1 cup of dal – typo! I have never tried poha and I soak it for around 6 hours – that might be the problem..I too soak them separately and grind them separately too.. Will try soaking them for 3 hours and see.

  10. I have always used ready-made batter. With so many suggestions here-I am tempted to try some of them out. Can you tell which one of these worked best?


    I used to use readymade batter in Bangalore – a lot. It was so much easier – and tasted just as good. Here we don’t get it and I used to make them fine in London ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Will try all these tips now and will definitely let you know too ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Smitha I buy ready made batter ๐Ÿ™‚ Earlier I let he maid help me and thought I was making great dosas, but the day I tried making dosas on my own, I made a mess (literally) ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I used to make them well – in Bangalore and in London. But here for some reason, I seem to be jinxed ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Now we can even get dosas home delivered, but I prefer Idli, less oil, more health ๐Ÿ˜† You want tips on making good idlis?


    Any tips are always welcome! I use the same batter for idlis ๐Ÿ™‚ And I love idlis too! I actually make dosas on the non-stick with no oil ๐Ÿ™‚ I am a little paranoid of oil ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I got your post updated, just now and I see so many comments, here!

    I know! My reader does the same – by the time I reach somewhere there are more than 50 comments already ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Boiled (Idly) rice 3 cups, raw rice 1 cup,
    1 cup udad dhal
    1 tbs. methi
    1 tbs. poha

    Soak for 4 to 5 hours. Grind finely. Mix salt and in cold climate, use your hand (the bacteria in our hand helps to ferment fast, really!). Leave it to ferment over night. We do in this method.

    This is interestong – I will try it out! You know, I use basmati rice, because I grind in the mixie. I once used boiled rice and my mixie broke down ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Do you think that might make a difference?


    My niece (who is in New Jersey) keeps the batter in the warmer (microwave). Or keep it in the rice drum and close the lid.

    I don’t have a rice drum here ๐Ÿ™‚ So I think I will need to use the oven ๐Ÿ™‚

    I see all these tips are already here. If you are grinding in a mixie, 3 :1 should be fine. I too like fermented batter dosa. All the best!
    You like fermented dosas too ๐Ÿ™‚ Will try out these tips and let you know.

    • The taste differs when you make dosa out of basmathi rice, Smitha. Soak the rice for a longer time then. It should be fine. Using warm water for soaking also helps.

      Oh – will try the warm water too ๐Ÿ™‚ I am ready to try anything now ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I read the next comment now. Yes, urad dhal tends to stink and foam also starts on top of it, if soaked for a looong time! Soak rice separately for a long time and Urad dhal can be soaked just for half an hour. The batter should be mixed properly with salt. If salt is not mixed well, the batter might stink. Here, we soak rice and urad dhal together for dosa and separately for idly. Urad dhal should be more, for idly batter.


        I normally soak them separately – and grind them separately, but soak it for the same time – that might be the problem. Will try soaking the urad dal for half and hour and try.

        All the best.

        Thank you! I have got so many tips – just waiting to try them out ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. The smell could be because you are soaking for too long. Urad dal does tend to smell a bit if it is soaked for too long. To compensate for less soaking time the best option would be to add a handful of cooked rice. A tablespoon of curds or a pinch of yeast could do the trick if the batter is not turning sour.

    Oh ok! Will give that a shot. how long is the optimal soaking time?

    • I usually soak the rice and dal in the morning, grind it in the evening and leave it to ferment overnight. If the weather is cold, you might not want to add salt till it is done fermenting.

  14. I had left you a comment in Og’s post..Just saw this post..

    Oh did you? So sorry, I did not see it!

    Try this one day..

    Soak 1 glasss white rice/idly rice,1/2 glass urad dal and 5-6 fenugreek seeds.. for 6 hrs or so..

    I grind them all together adding a handful of cooked rice. Add salt and put ferment for 8 hrs.

    I grind them separately. My mother asked me to try grinding them together too. I will try this out.

    When its winter,i add a pinch of yeast to the batter.. When its really really cold,i put the batter-dish in a lukewarm water ..Do try this for sure…
    Oh great – that might help. Will try it for sure.

  15. ..and yes,placing the batter-dish in a lightly heated oven too works..(preheat oven to a small temp,turn off,then keep the dish inside and don’t open it for hours…

    You know, Nimmy, I keep opening and checking on it – do you think that might be making a difference too?

    • Smitha I think that cud be an issue. My Mom says that don’t touch the batter & don’t move it much as well. And yes, we grind both the things together, may be that will make a difference.

      Yes, I think that might be the case. Earlier, I would leave it overnight -so it would be untouched. These days, I grind in the morning – so end up checking on it every so often – that might be the problem!

  16. Next time wash your hands properly before doing the whole process!!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ Weird suggestion no?? But couldn’t think of anything else.

    Smita, I always do that – I am a maniac with these things. I even sterilized everything I use once, to be on the safe side!

    There was a phase in my Mom’s life when she was unable to make pickles. She used to follow the process to T but still it used to get spoiled within days. Then once we moved out to other city all the pickles started to stay…so I guess sometimes it is the combo of weather & hand!!! And sometimes things are unexplainable!!

    Wow! maybe, I should stop trying until we move from Leeds ๐Ÿ™‚

    So Stop eating Dosa’s for sometime is my suggestion!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, store bought frozen ones are probably the best for now ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. aww… thats sad… try reducing the amount of dal. and placing it to ferment for a calculated amount of time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I put it in the oven and turn the lights on, keep it overnight but thats because this is a very very cold place. Also my ratio is 1:2 of urad dal and rice. It comes out pretty good. Try it maybe it’ll work.

    I have tried that – that used to work in London – somehow does not work here. Will try reducing the dal and see.

  18. hehehehehehehe, well well well…………….. i have no suggestion ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜› shesh!! it is a pity that you cant make dosas in leeds ๐Ÿ˜›

    my suggestion:
    wait for summer/hottest day and then make dosa ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜›

    Yes – but that is a year away ๐Ÿ˜ฆ And even on sunny days here we need coats – so how will my poor batter rise ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  19. We had our fair share of trials at this too before getting it working ๐Ÿ™‚
    We use idly rice or sona masoori rice and whole urad. My proportion of rice to urad is 4:1. I soak rice for minimum 6 hours and urad for 30 minutes to an hour. Usually I soak urad only when I put rice in the grinder. I have an ultra grinder and love it – it is about 8 years old now, so has started acting out too:( I grind rice for about 30 minutes and then the urad for 30 minutes and then mix them, add salt and grind for a minute or so. In summer, this ferments overnight with no problem. In winter, we keep it next to a heat vent and it works. I have tried oven and it has never worked for me. Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

    You know, I used to use whole urad in London – here I don’t get it – so have to use the split urad – I wonder if that could be another reason. I don’t have a grinder here – have to use the mixie. I think I will try soaking the urad lesser. I soak it for way too long I think.

  20. Look what you did to the blog samaj with your bad cooking skills !!! You can make good cakes, whats with the dosas then ? Get classes from OG, will ya?

    OG has hiked his fees after his recent success. Now I will have to wait for books to come out ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. hmm i can ask my mom if she has any tips… i make dosas… but fermenting them isnt my job ๐Ÿ˜€ thats my mom’s!

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks loads Ash! I am so tired of my batter refusing to rise, I can’t tell you!

  22. when we shifted our apartment I had a similar issue. The curd would NEVER set at the new place bcoz it was much colder than the earlier place. I began heating milk for longer, but that didnt help either. Then I bagan to place the container right beside the heating vent overnight. and we had chaka-chak curds :). the vents were on the floor instead of the roof here so worked well.

    wow! I tried that too – keeping it near the heating – but that made it stink too ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    • also,I soak both together for 3-4 hrs and instead of grinding at 10 pm I grind it earlier giving the batter a little more time to ferment. I use more urad dal i guess. I use rice and dal in the ratio 1&1/2 : 1.

      Right! I don’t soak them together.. Let me try this too.

  23. Smi, I would have given you correct proportions but then you already used to make those in London. So I blame Leeds. ๐Ÿ˜€ Leeds is anti-Dosa. Down Down Leeds! ๐Ÿ˜†
    I know! Bad, naughty Leeds!

    The only solution now is moving from Leeds and making yum dosas again.

    That certainly looks like the only solution – or maybe I should shift houses – that appeals even more actually ๐Ÿ™‚

    In winter, I add fenugreek seeds and keep the batter in an Indian casserole inside a warm oven. It ferments well. In Summer, I just grind it as usual and keep it outside.

    Indian casserole – Let me try that! Here even in summer, it is quite cold ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  24. Hmm I got no suggestions for you- me no dosa expert. I stick to my recipe, I add 4 cups of rice, and 1 cup urad dal + 1/2 cup moong dal + handful of chana dal + 1 tblsp toor dal. I just try to make it as nutritious as possible.

    ๐Ÿ™‚ I used to add chopped spinach and grated carrots to my daughter’s dosas – anything to make it healthy – in the days when it used to work out ๐Ÿ™‚ Now all I want is fermented batter ๐Ÿ™‚

    I always have the same problem when setting yogurt, so I just buy yogurt from the store these days ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I don’t even try to set yogurt – store bought yogurt works for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. So, did it work finally? What all did you try? Maybe I can try it once you have… M a total “Ready made batter” user… never even tried making the batter! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ


    ๐Ÿ™‚ I tried one of the alternatives and atleast it did not get spoilt ๐Ÿ™‚ I was also extra careful – fermented it for 6 hours.

  26. Smitha..thanks for the post.. sometimes even my dosa’s dont behave well.. nd now there r so many tips and ticks to try… i do think that even the rice matters… even i am using basmati right now and it does turn out right with the current variety.. but some rice(pachari) turns out excellent buti always fail to remember the name!

  27. The readymade dosa mix used to work nicely for me…i would be surprised if it isnt available at your local desi grocery store!

    Yes, that is available – but I never tried it – I guess, it is time to resort to that ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Pingback: Yummy-Tummy Weekend « Any Excuse to Write…

  29. LOL Smithu … I remembered u so much sday .. one of my pressure cookers which ws nt functioning properly in the old place is perfect nw .. hw I dnt know ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜›

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