Idli or Dosa?


Idli or Dosa?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Born and raised in Tamil Nadu, a state in Southern India, Idlis and Dosas  were always a staple at home. Idli for the totally unfamiliar, is defined by Wikipedia as “savoury rice cakes” that is made from fermented batter and which is had mostly for breakfast. Dosa on the other hand, is a savoury crepe made from the same fermented batter. Both of them are served with a huge range of accompaniments to suit the palate. While both idli and dosa are ideally served for breakfast, if you are from Tamil Nadu – you don’t mind having it at any time of the day! 🙂 

How do we make them?

While I will leave the exact recipe for making the perfect idli and dosa to Google, I can say that idli/dosa batter cannot be made in an instant unlike other foods. If we would like to make the idli/dosa batter (totally homemade),  tomorrow morning, the process has to be started 24 hrs earlier – if you are in a tropical climate and longer if you are in a colder climate. 

This because, the lentils have to be soaked and ground in a special appliance called a ‘grinder'(or we can do it in a blender too) The resulting batter has to be fermented at least for 6-10 hrs(preferably overnight) .

Once the batter has beautifully fermented,  the idlis and dosas are ready to be made and relished with the different accompaniments! 🙂

Accompaniments to the idli-dosa duo:

Now, there are a variety of chutneys that can accompany the popular idli-dosa combo. There is coconut chutney, coriander chutney, mint chutney, tomato chutney, onion chutney( and my kids prefer all the colored variations! :))  and even more combinations to make this humble food even more tasty! 

There is also the very authentic Tamil Nadu ‘sambhar’ (lentil based vegetable stew as per Wikipedia) that can accompany the idli or dosa to make this food super yummy! 🙂

How should it be?

Now, depending the quality of the lentils, the temperature and the duration of the fermentation and the proportion of lentils, the idlis and dosas might come differently. Technically, the idlis have to be soft (like ‘malligai poo’ 🙂 aka ‘jasmine flowers’ and dosas may or may not be crisp. But the taste for both is definitely out of this world! 🙂


Can we order them from outside?

Oh…yes, we can and while other states might boast of pani puri stalls and chaat houses everywhere , it is the humble ‘idli’ that will adorn the streets of Tamil Nadu. Numerous idli shops will definitely pepper houses in Tamil Nadu and home cooks will even sell freshly made ‘idli-dosa’ batter for nominal prices.

A mother’s best friend! 🙂

Did you know – most of us mothers in/from Tamil Nadu will be at a loss if we do not have the idli-dosa batter at home in the refrigerator at any point of time? 🙂  The idli-dosa batter is definitely a mother’s best friend! When most mother’s are always at their wits end for “lunch box” and “breakfast” ideas, having the batter always saves the day. We can whip dosas and idlis in a jiffy and save the day! 🙂 


Now the great question – is it Idli or Dosa that satisfies your palate?

While each of them have their own taste and texture(obviously because one is round and soft and the other is crispy and flat), I have seen most having a preference for one or the other – but not both.

While the daughter in the house loves the soft variations and can gulp them as it is without any accompaniments 🙂 the son, can hardly get the idli down his throat without the frequent ‘eowws’ 🙂 His idea of Tamil Nadu’s favorite food has to be the crispy counterpart lathered with a generous dollop of ghee that gives it an immensely wonderful aroma!

So, what is your favorite and how do you like to eat it? 🙂


About the author

Jayanthi administrator

16 Comments so far

SupriyaPosted on10:50 am - Sep 11, 2018

No either or… I love both… I am not a south Indian, but can eat South India’s Idli- dosa- sambar- chutney and My Maharashtra’s Kande Pohe & |Thalipeeth for every breakfast, lunch and dinner… Die hard fan of all these dishes.

JheelamPosted on3:30 pm - Sep 11, 2018

I’m Bengali and swear by Idli/Dosa. Too bad that I can’t prepare it at home (attempted few times without any success). Kolkata has some excellent South Indian eateries that are my go-to destinations for Idli/Dosa cravings. Would always be grateful to South India for these beauties on my platter. 😛

Sonia ChatterjeePosted on5:32 pm - Sep 11, 2018

Having spent 12 years in Karnataka, I can eat neer Dosa for breakfast, masala Dosa for lunch and sada dosa for dinner. I’m so hungry just by looking at the pictures.

PreetiPosted on8:12 pm - Sep 11, 2018

My love for Dosa blossomed during my time in Bangalore. For 9 years I enjoyed every style of Dosas available there. the 99 variety dosas were a must every weekend for us. Your post has made me hungry and now I must have it. 🙂 #readbypreetispanorama for #MyFriendAlexa

PriPosted on2:14 am - Sep 12, 2018

On most days, I’d prefer Dosa to Idli. But of course, there are those Idli days too, when I crave for the soft and fluffy Idli with the yummy coconut chutney and sambhar by the side.
However, what I really detest is when they serve the idli already dunked in the sambhar, popularly known as ‘Idli-Sambhar’ in most South Indian restaurants (a fact I learned from the arguments with waiters on more than one occasion) 😐

Anyway, your post has made me hungry now…sigh!

MahakPosted on12:52 pm - Sep 12, 2018

I am surprised that you say people don’t have a preference for both. I honestly cannot choose one of the two. I love both dosa as well as idli and in fact relish most of the South Indian delicacies. Your post has me craving some now!

Vasantha VivekPosted on6:53 pm - Sep 12, 2018

Hai…. Where are you from Tamilnadu ? Loved reading your post. For all of us, it’s idli and for my teen son, it’s dosa.

Dr BushraPosted on11:46 pm - Sep 13, 2018

If I’ve to choose from the duo I’ll go for dosa especially the masala one. That’s delightful read. #myfriendalexa

PRBPosted on10:19 pm - Sep 17, 2018

I vote for Dosa, totally love it and my father makes it damn well even being a Bengali. I haven’t my Idli steamer here in Belgium, so no idlis for a few months now, but making do with instant Dosa batter, it’s nothing near the homemade one, but just edible.

Priya VermaPosted on12:58 pm - Feb 12, 2019

If i want to choose dosa then my favourite onion dosa tasty and yummy…

Now we will get instant Idli Dosa Batter online

Leave a Reply