Adai (Savory Lentil Pancakes)


I am beginning this post with an apology to Sugarfree Sweetheart Priya , because this recipe was intended to be part of the diabetic friendly food week she hosted, but did not make it in time :(. It was one of those weeks, where everything seemed calm and quiet until things started rolling and before you knew, it was an avalanche and you are buried deep under trying to catch a breath. It was frustrating to have all the photos in the camera, yet not able to find an hour to sort through them and post the recipe online. However, it was a happy avalanche , had my college buddy over for thanksgiving, and met two other college mates over the weekend and it was an unplanned and unintended mini college reunion, which is always fun.

Even though I didn’t post in time, the recipe is still a very diabetic friendly food and I just love it for its taste. I also have a weird personal connection with this “Adai”. In May 2002, suddenly I started craving Adai, so I kept  making them two or three times a week, and two weeks later I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. And in July 2005, when I started super-craving Adai again, I just ran to the store and got an early pregnancy kit and guess what , I was pregnant with my second child. Pregnancies and the cravings…….. 🙂   No  more crazy cravings…… and thank God for that !

So here is my Adai recipe for the Sugarfree Sweetheart’s Diabetic friendly food week:

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To make the adai batter , you will need :

  1. Rice – 1 cup (use brown rice instead)
  2. Thur dal (split piegeon peas) – 1/2 cup
  3. Channa dal (split chick peas) –  1/2 cup
  4. Moong Dal (green gram) – 1/2 cup
  5. Urad Dal (black gram) – 1/2 cup
  6. fennel – 1 tsp
  7. cumin – 2 tsp
  8. dried red chillies – 2 or 3 (5 or 6 for spicier adais)

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  • Soak the rice and lentils in water for 3 hours. I also soak the red chilles with them as it helps them to grind better.

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  • After 3 hours, grind the soaked rice and lentils with red chillies, cumin, fennel and salt to make a coarse batter. I grind in my blender and it takes only two minutes.

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  • You can make pancakes with just plain batter. But adding onions and greens add more texture and taste to the adais. Traditionally, drumstick leaves are used. They are not available here, so I use spinach.

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  • Thinly slice an onion and chop  baby spinach and add to the the batter.

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  • Heat a skillet and grease with cooking spray. Pour a spoonful of batter and spread evenly.

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  • When you see the adai browning slightly, flip over and cook the other side.

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  • Flip one more time and cook until you see brown spots. The lentil batter takes longer to cook.

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Adais can be served with coconut chutney or a dollop of yogurt. If you ask me, they are good on their own :).

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The 5 minutes Sambar


Being a south Indian, sambar is our staple curry. I can make a pot of sambar , serve with rice for lunch and then serve with idlis or dosas for dinner, or serve with vadas for appetizers ,or as lentil soup, it is truly multi-purpose. Made with lentils and vegetables , it ranks high on nutritional value too. To make sambar in traditional way is not at all complicated, cook your lentils, cook your vegetables, add tamarind and sambar powder, add your favorite seasoning, temper with some ghee…..and that is all there is to it. But the lentils do take some time to cook, so it is not something you can make when you are trying to fix a meal in 10 minutes.

This quick sambar recipe replaces dal (lentils) with powdered split chickpeas (pottukadalai / roasted gram). Pottukadalai (fried gram) is the split and roasted chickpeas. Roasting is not done with oil, but done by applying high pressure (similar to how puffed rice is made). It is the most easily digestible form of chickpeas, porridge made out of this form of chick peas is a popular baby food. I encourage my kids to eat this roasted gram as such, a good source of protein yet mild on their stomachs.

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Ok, now to make this quick sambar, you will need :

  1. Pearl Onions – 7 or 8 (quartered)
  2. Tomatoes – 1 large or 2 medium
  3. Green chilli – 1 (slit)
  4. Cilantro – a good bunch
  5. Curry leaves – few
  6. Pottukadalai (Roasted gram) – 1 tbsp
  7. Tamarind water – 2 tbsp (diluted)
  8. Turmeric – 1 tsp
  9. Sambar powder – 2 to 3 tsp
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Vellam / Jaggery / Brown sugar – 1 tsp
  12. Mustard seeds, urad dal and ghee – 1/2 tsp each (to temper)

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  • Powder the roasted gram, this will only take a few seconds and it becomes a fine powder very quickly.

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  • Now dilute this 1 tbsp of powder with about half a cup of water.

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  • In a pot, heat a spoon of oil and saute the onions, tomatoes, green chillies, curry leaves and cilantro.

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  • When the onions and tomatoes soften add the tamarind water, turmeric, sambar powder, brown sugar and salt. Tamarind is optional, you can just add more tomatoes instead. Also if you don’t have sambar powder , use chilli powder and coriander powder.

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  • Add about half a cup of water and bring the curry to boil, and then mix in the diluted gram powder solution.

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  • You will see the sambar thickening within seconds. Bring the sambar to a good boil. Check for seasoning, add salt if needed.

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  • In a separate pan, heat 1/2 tsp of ghee and fry the mustard seed and urad dal and add it to the sambar.

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  • Remove from heat and serve. The neat thing is you can make this sambar while your idlis are steaming .  You might have already tasted this sambar, because it is a popular restaurant trick 🙂 (why wouldn’t they ? it is both cost effective and time effective). I still make my sambar the traditional way with dal (lentils), but this quick sambar recipe is good to have in your arsenal for one of those crazy busy days !

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P.S. – While you can use besan (garbanzo flour) instead of the roasted gram powder, I prefer the latter.