Craving Homemade Idli? 5 Tricks To Ferment The Batter In Winter

The secret to making soft and fluffy idlis is to let the batter ferment for a long time in a warm, moist atmosphere. Easily available during the summer months, the weather ensures that the heat makes the idlis puff up. But fermentation in cold weather during the winter months is a struggle. When left to nature, the process is not carried out properly, resulting in idlis and dosas that do not taste as good as expected. 

Video Credit: Chef Ranveer Brar/ YouTube

The process of fermentation uses the help of microorganisms like bacteria and yeast to break down complex carbohydrates in the batter into simple compounds like lactic acid and carbon dioxide. This improves the texture and flavour of the dish.

Among many factors that affect the fermentation process, temperature and humidity play a crucial role. Since the temperature and humidity remain low in the cold and dry climate, the process of fermentation slows down, and it makes the batter thick. But there are a few techniques that you can try that will help you ferment the batter to perfection and cook your favourite dish without hassle. 

Place The Bowl Of Batter In A Warm Place

However, it might seem almost impossible to find a warm place or create an environment for the batter to ferment nicely. However, you can use the microwave oven for this. Leave the batter inside the oven with its lights on for a night. It would be enough for the microorganisms to act and ferment the batter.

Another way to do this is to fill a large vessel with warm water and place the container of the batter inside it. The warmth of the water will maintain the temperature of the batter, and it will ferment according to your requirements. You should also ensure to keep the batter covered in both cases.

Add Warm Water To The Batter

When you are preparing the batter, you can add warm water to it. It will speed up the process of fermentation and maintain the temperature of the content inside the vessel. The trick that a warm environment does is it activates the microorganisms that speed up the process of fermentation. You should ensure that the temperature of the water is between 40°C-45°C. If the temperature exceeds more than that, it can kill the yeast and microorganisms. 

Add Yeast Or Yoghurt

If you add yoghurt or yeast to the batter, they act as catalysts and speed up the process of fermentation. Since yoghurt has active cultures, they kick starts the process of fermentation, and you will get the softest idols you have ever tried. In the cold weather, adding nutritional yeast can be a great agent to ensure that the batter ferments to perfection.

If you go with yoghurt, add fresh content because it has active microorganisms. A tablespoon of yoghurt can work wonders for the idli-dosa batter. But if you are yeast, a pinch of it to the content in the vessel is enough for fermentation. 

Soak Lentils And Rice For A Long Time

Whenever you prepare the batter, you have to soak rice and lentils. Many people soak overnight because water softens the grains. It helps to achieve a smooth batter. Soaking also activates the microorganisms, which makes the process of fermentation fast. In the cold weather, you must soak rice and lentils for at least 8-10 hours or even more. You can also soak them in warm water with a pinch of fenugreek seeds to help with the fermentation process. 

Keep A Check On The Batter

Once you have done everything and kept the batter aside, keep checking it at regular intervals. If the process of fermentation has kickstarted, you can see the batter rising in volume and developing a strong pungent or sour smell. If it rises to the brim of the vessel, you know that the idlis are going to be softer than ever.

In cold weather, fermentation can take time. Therefore, you need to stay patient. Using high-quality ingredients, opting for the correct techniques, and storing the batter properly will ensure that the end result is what you have been expecting.