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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

How to start your own idli-dosa batter business?

Has anyone told you that your dosas are crispy or idlis are as soft? If yes, I’m sure that people would have asked for some batter, if not atleast the recipe. Well, I guess every south Indian has the inherent talent of making awesome dosas and idlis at their will. And with the world turning health conscious, whole cereal breakfasts are turning to be the trend. Surprisingly, the good old dosas and steamed idlis fit in perfectly in this health conscious new-age. Well, even if you are not a south Indian, but know how to make dosa-idli batter, you can start selling of some as a good business.

How to start with your idli-dosa batter business?

To start an idli-dosa batter business you just need that enthusiasm to do something on your own. Firstly, look at your neighbourhood to find out if there are people who are ready to buy your batter. Even if there is just one person who is ready to buy, go forward and start off. Yes you can sell off a share of the batter that you make for your own use. Be it on a regular mixer grinder or a decent wet grinder.

Gradually word of mouth will get you more customers and you might have to grind it every day. You can even look out for shops nearby for more customers.  Sounds quite exciting! Isn’t so? Yes it is an exciting journey, and to make it a big business you need to follow your passion systematically. What follows down is a sketch for the same.

How to make your idli-dosa batter business a grand entrepreneurial journey?

Once you start selling in small scale you can make it a bigger commercial venture by following the points given below:
  1. Study the market: Idli and Dosa has become part of global cuisine and wherever you are, it is quite easy to find people loving it. Yet from a business perspective you need to be sure of the demand in your area. Just do a recce of the stores nearby and talk to people to understand if there is such a strong demand. Talk to your friends, announce it in kitties and do whatever you could to check the market. If there is already existing suppliers, learn the volume and pricing from them. Don’t worry even if there are many such suppliers. You still can get started with this - as huge number of suppliers also means huge demand. Even in Chennai, you will find an idli-dosa batter grinding unit every 2 kilometers!
  2. Try a sample Idli Dosa Batter from Amazon
  3. Procure the infrastructure: You will definitely need a wet grinder if there is a demand for more than 2L every day. Also you will need decently big containers for storing the batter. People want ready batter. So ensure the batter is fermented properly and add adequate amount of water and salt. Have a measuring scale or measuring cup ready so that you can sell it as packs of 2L, 1L or even ½ L. (You know how much is ½ L milk packet contain, so just compare or you can sell it after weighing in a weighing scale as ½ kg, 1 kg or 2kg). You will also need cold storages (nothing but your own refrigerator will do in the beginning) to let the batter remain in optimum temperature. If you are selling it to stores, ensure that they have refrigerator spaces allotted for you. Apart from these, better ensure good electrical power supply.
  4. Buy Raw Materials: Idli and dosa batter needs rice, urad dal and methi as the main raw materials. Once your business picks up you can look out for bulk deals from wholesalers or farmers. Say, you can buy rice in sacks of 50kg and thus reduce the cost, in effect increasing your profit.  Have good potable water supply for washing rice and dals as well as grinding them.  Maintain hygiene in the grinding premises.
  5. Packaging: Do the packing instantly after the batter is properly fermented to maintain the same consistency in all the packets. (If not done, ural dal will float above leaving rice to the bottom, this will affect the quality of idli and dosas made from it)To start off you can use either Ziplocs or food grade polyethene and use rubber band to tie them. To make it more professional, get a heat sealer and labels that shows the manufacturing date and use by date. You can also include your contact details for any bulk orders in future.
  6. Transportation: To deliver huge volumes of idli-dosa batter packets you will have to arrange for a transport system too. Be it rickshaws, mini vans or trucks.
  7. Understand the cost involved and do the pricing: Have a fair idea of the costs involved in running this business. This includes the cost of raw materials, manual labour costs, and electricity and water costs. Once the costs are identified, do the pricing so that you enjoy a handsome profit too.
And if you do all these you can start selling it in bulk. People will now identify you as an entrepreneur. Yet is that all? No. You can in fact scale it up even higher with monetary help from outside.  You can rent out a space, buy more grinders, employ labourers and produce more volume per day. Well, you can even be the first one to set up an idli and dosa factory in India. Sounds crazy? If there can be many cheese factories why can’t there be one idli or dosa factory?

Sounds exciting to start the idli-dosa batter business, but don’t know how to make it? Here follows the dosa and idli batter recipe:

Well, at home I usually grind the batter for idli and dosa differently. Dosa batter has to be supremely smooth so that the dosas are crispy. Whereas, idli batter can be a bit coarse so that idlis are fluffy. And idlis usually taste good only the very next day but for dosas it will run for a week. We love more dosas than idlis and so I make dosa batter in bulk and idli batter only once in a while.

My  mother-in-law makes one batter for both dosa and idlis. She grinds the batter smoothly and make idlis the very next day of grinding and keep the rest for dosa for the next few days. The reason it works is because the consistency is great when batter is fresh.

So for a business you can follow my mother-in-laws recipe as it will give you batter that is good for both dosas and idlis. Usually the person who has bought it will end up making her favourite idlis or dosas that day itself. The quantity is also less so that batter in the packet is of equal consistency giving good idlis even after two or three days.

Idli-Dosa batter recipe for making 3L for sale

I have a 2L capacity Butterfly grinder. Once the batter is fermented and you add water to it, it will be almost 3L.
You can buy a similar Table Top Grinder from Amazon to start idli dosa batter business from home.

Idli Rice: 8 cups

Whole Urad Dal: 2 cups

Fenugreek seeds: 1tea spoon

Soak it all together for around 4-5 hours (Say you soak rice and dals in the morning around 8 O’clock). Wash it well before grinding (Say around 12 O’clock). Grind into fine batter (say around 2 PM it is done). Transfer into a big container that has extra space for the risen up batter. Keep it in that container overnight. Morning you will find risen up batter. Now mix salt and adequate water to make it of the flowing consistency.  Do the measuring and packing. Now keep refrigerated till it is ready for sale.

Yes it is very easy and the profit it huge. Manufacturing is the most profitable business ever. This is simply turning a few raw materials into a sellable product.

Yes that is it!

Every single person has the doubt of if it will sell or not. You can get rid of all such ifs and buts only if you get it started. Problems might arise, but rather than thinking about ‘what if’, you get it going and face it. Trust me, once you start off you will get the confidence to get over any hurdle.  Even if you get stuck somewhere you can ask me. I’ll help you out.

Try to get over that low confidence gravity and I can see you flying in the sky :). How wonderful will life be if all thank you for such mouth watering crispy dosa and fluffy idli batter! Just do it!


I recently read an article about ID foods in Business Today. Do read it for better understanding of how to scale up your idli dosa batter business.