Adai: Pancake To Dai For

The Indian subcontinent offers a cornucopia of grains and lentils pancakes: dosa, chakuli pitha, uttapam, pesarattu, adai, chitau… Here is a simple, unfermented one inspired by adai. Not your mother’s adai. If you can believe it, this is even better!

It takes a little planning (prepping overnight) but made even simpler with the use of a no-fuss waffle maker. The waffle provides larger browned surface area and even little pockets to trap the accompanying sauces. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Food processor; waffle maker; silicone brush


Makes 4 waffles (8 portions)

  • Soak separately overnight or until  bite-test  (few hours) in plenty of cold water: 1 1/4 cup grains + 1 cup lentils
  • Flavor base I: Saute in a little sesame oil : 1 tsp skinned white (urad) lentils + 3 stalks of curry leaves + ¼  cup desiccated coconut + 1 red dry chili
  • Flavor base II: 1/4 cup chopped cilantro + 1/2 cup diced onions + 1/4 tsp heeng + 1/4 tsp turmeric powder + 1/2 inch ginger, microplaned + salt to taste
  • 1/8 cup oil for the waffle maker


Drain the grains and lentils and process in a food processor with the Flavor Base I till smooth. Don’t worry if the batter continues to be a wee bit gritty– the soaking has hydrated it and it will steam during the cooking. Mix in the Flavor Base II ingredients. The batter will be thick.

Use about 1 cup of the thick batter at a time in the waffle maker (follow manufacturer’s instructions). Use a little oil with each use. It takes about 4 minutes for each.

Serve warm  with Indian chutney or sambar.   

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. The grain/cereal used here is oats (steel-cut). The lentils used here is of 4 kinds, equal in volume: toor, masoor (with skin); black urad (with skin), black eyed peas. The use of lentils with skin adds fibre and nutrients, with no compromise on taste.
  2. The traditional way to make it is crepe-style in a pan/skillet (see picture below): this takes a lot of patience, care and skill.
  3. To my delight, I discovered that the waffle maker works remarkably well, and, makes an even better presentation!
    The batter has no leavening agent and no fermentation– then how come the waffle making works? The staple ingredients –grains, lentils– are well hydrated (passed the  bite-test ). The trapped moisture steams with heat making the interior deliciously fluffy without being pasty. And, the outer layer is invitingly crisp.

A Fistful Of Grains

Muthia means a fistful and you may have seen it in Indian Delis (or Freezer sections). The one here however is even more interesting. And, if the title triggers flashes of Clint Eastwood, it is intentional 😉

But back to delicious, conscientious eating. A more assertive substitute for plain white rice is a mixture of whole grains that Asian grocery stores are already stocking. There is always leftover rice and here is how you transform les restes to je ne sais quoi irresistible morsels. Enjoy!




  • Macerate overnight: 1 1/2 cups cooked mixed grains + 1/4 cup yogurt + 1 shallot finely minced + 1/4 inch ginger finely grated + 1 finely chopped green chilli + salt to taste + (optional: oat flour)
  • For tempering: 1 tbsp oil, 1/tsp mustard seeds + 1 dozen fragrant curry leaves
  • Slices of heirloom tomatoes for serving
  • Topping: cottage cheese


If the rice mixture is too runny, thicken with the oat flour. Steam the rice mixture for about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly and shape roughly into little balls (fistfuls).

Heat oil in a non-stick pan for tempering. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they begin to sputter, gently place the balls. Flip gently after a tw minutes and let lightly brown on the other side.

Serve warm with slices of Heirloom tomatoes and topped with a little cottage cheese.


  1. The mixed grain used here was from the Asian market. It has regular and hulled barley + rye berries + black rice + red rice + brown rice. Follow the instructions on the package.
  2. For steaming, I used a steaming basket lined with parchment. Since the steaming basket was that of a pressure cooker, I succumbed to temptation and pressure-steamed for 12 minutes, under medium pressure. This softened the grains a bit.
  3. Since the grain here are not as docile as plain white rice, in fact they provide a nice texture.