Crispy Lentil Pancakes (Adai)
A twist on the Ethiopian Anjira, a thick lentil crepe, or a dosa variant,
this is a nutritious blend of lentils and rice and a favorite Tamilian 'tiffin'   

 Ashok Vasudevan

Serves 6  | Prep time 3 hours |  Cook time: 15 minutes

  • 1 Cup Parboiled rice (substitute with regular white, if needed)
  • 1/2 Cup split Chickpea (Chana Dal) )
  • 1/2 Cup Red Gram (Tur Dal)
  • 1/4  Cup Ivory lentils (Urad Dal) 
  • 1 stalk (or twig) of Curry Leaf ( About 10-12 curry leaves)
  • 3  Whole Dried Red chillies (medium-sized)
  • 4 teaspoons Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch Hing (Asafoetida), (optional)
  • Place rice and lentils in a colander and wash thoroughly in running water. 
  • In a large dish, soak the drained rice and lentils in water such that they are fully immersed. Soak for at least 3 hours. If you wish you could soak it overnight. 
  • Drain the water and set aside. Add the whole red chillies to the moist rice and lentil mix. 
  • Now, coarsely grind this mixture in a blender. Remember to add a little water as needed such that the batter is not too thick in the grinder. The batter must NOT be ground too fine, but should be a bit grainy. Transfer to a large icing bowl.
  • Add salt, curry leaves and hing to the mixture. Mix and stir thoroughly. Add a little water such that the final consistency of the batter is not too thick and not too runny.  
  • You are now ready to make the crispy pancakes, an anjira, crepe, lentil dosa or adai.  As always, what you call it, depends purely on your politics!
  • Take Olive oil in a small bowl and keep ready by the stove. You will also need a large, flat nonstick pan, 1 sheet of paper towel, a ladle, a teaspoon and a spatula. 
  • Make a wad of the paper towel and dip lightly into the bowl of olive oil. Gently rub the paper towel over the surface of the pan to grease. The correct amount of oil is such that it is barely visible on the pan. Now turn on the heat/ flame at medium high. Test pan is hot by lightly sprinkling water on the pan. It should sizzle.
  • Now, fill the ladle level with batter from the mixing bowl. Gently pour this batter onto the center of the pan till the ladle is empty.
  • Begin to spread the batter in a widening circular motion starting from the center and moving out to form a thick layer( as thick as a pancake) roughly 6" diameter.   
  • As soon as you have finished spreading the batter on the pan, using the spatula make a small hole (no more than a ¼ inch in diameter) in the center of the circle. 
  • Take a half teaspoon of oil and dribble around the diameter of the pancake. Add a drop of oil in the hole in the enter of the pan as well.
  • Wait about 2 minutes. The upper surface will begin to look a little cohesive and it will no longer be soft or runny. Use the spatula and carefully flip the pancake. Don't be anxious if the first one doesn't flip easily or if the bottom is not evenly colored. This is normal and will get better with the second pancake onwards as the pan gets evenly heated and your batter spreads uniformly on the pan.
  • Keeping stove on medium high, allow to cook for 1 minute after flipping. 
  • Turn over once again with the cooked side down. Add ¼ teaspoon oil around the perimeter and a drop in the center as before.
  • You are almost done.  In less than a minute turn it over one last time to see the surface is uniformly golden. The pancake  will get crisp momentarily. 
  • Serve them hot straight from the pan or make a batch and keep stack warm in a closed dish.
  • Before you start a new pancake, reduce the heat and use the paper towel wad to brush oil lightly as before. This will ensures the batter will spread evenly and the color will be a uniform brown.
  • Serve the Crispy pancake/Adai with side dishes like Coconut Chutney Gunpowder ChutneySambar, or even Pico de Gallo.  Traditionally in Tamil nadu, it is also had with a blob of butter and some jaggery (gur).
  • You will probably make 12-14 pancakes depending on the diameter and the consistency.
Nutrition: Serving Size About 2 pancakes or adais

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