Adai, the Other Dosa

Let that ‘potato soup’ post sit for another month. I’m going to write about the adai.

By now you all must know all there is to know about the various kinds of idlies and dosai. But, wait a minute, if you are not from the South, you may not have heard of this less-famous cousin, the adai. Less famous, but I would crown this one as the King.

At the homes of the two Tambram schoolmates of mine, adai was cooked more often than the seemingly more popular (at least in North India) rice-urad dal dosa. The batter for the adai is coarser and never is it spread thin like the paper-dosa. A thin dosa, incidentally, is something I don’t care much for. I like my dosa to have some ‘meat’ on it. No wafer-thin anorexic looks for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is actually a North Indian ‘intervention’. Is it?

I have been making these for years…I went without adais for a very long time though. There were Tamil classmates in college, a bunch of then in fact, but for reasons unknown they would bring only paranthas for lunch! At last CY Gopinath starting writing on Tamil food in the TOI (in the early 90’s perhaps). And I waited with bated breath every Sunday…and one day he wrote about the adai (and other dosas)! I am sure I must have actually jumped for the joy of it! There’s not much to the recipe really. He wrote a short paragraph that I have preserved all these years (should probably get it laminated).

In addition to the rice and urad dal, it also has the other dal that is a staple in the South – the tuvar or arhar dal. With the addition of hot red chilli peppers, kadi patta, and ginger to the batter, it makes for a wonderful breakfast or a light meal. Light if you stop when you should. Needs no sambar, and could be served with any South Indian pickle, though I serve mine with the usual chutneys. The pictures are from when I served these for breakfast for visiting friends from Maharashtra a couple of months ago.

You will need to plan ahead to allow for the soaking of the rice-dal mix though the batter needs no fermentation (I had been adding this step for many years before I realized it was not part of the recipe! It is still tasty but we may have to call it by another name). I always serve it with gunpowder and now-a-days, also the peanut chutney. Check the rava idli post for links for recipes for these (I am positive if I link to Indira’s peanut chutney one more time she’s going to pull her hair out! 🙂 )

Adai 02

2 C parboiled rice
1 C urad dal
1 C tuvar dal
1/2 C chana (split chick-pea) dal
5-6 dry red chillies
heeng (asafoetida)
ginger, green chillies, curry leaves

Soak the dals and the rice overnight with the red chillies. In the morning grind it (coarse) with green chillies, curry leaves and ginger. Add a dash of heeng and salt to taste. Pour a big ladle full in the center of a well-oiled tava or griddle and spread with the back of the ladle. Don’t spread it thin; it should be nice and thick. Drizzle some oil around the edges and also a little in the center. Let it brown, flip over for a min. Fold and serve with your choice of pickle or chutney, or just plain old dahi, as Mr Gopinath prefers.

Adai 03

For an interesting variation on the traditional adai check out Saffron Hut’s version.

17 thoughts on “Adai, the Other Dosa

  1. I am from Kerala, but had never heard about adai till Saffron Hut wrote about it some months ago. Your adai looks fantastic! I think I am going to try this today, I doon’t think I have chana dal but will try without it. Hopefully it is not going to be a harsh decision to omit that dal, but I just can’t wait to try it anymore. And I am thinking of making Indira’s peanut chutney as you have spoken so much about it.

    Hi Giniann. Go ahead without the chana dal but I think it does help in making the adai brown well. You could also add any other dal (afterall, Saffron made her’s to include 18 kinds of beans and lentils!). And yes, you must make Indira’s peanut chutney!

  2. Hi –
    Neat blog, and a great recipe! Adai is a classic dish – it’s one of those humble dishes yet full of good stuff that often gets shadowed/eclipsed by idli and dosa..Poor adai – never liked it as a kid, but now I feel more attached to adai than idli/dosa – mainly for its protein content. Love it! Have you tried keerai adai (spinach adai)? It’s equally wonderful – a complete meal – I thaw frozen spinach, let it cook for a few mins, and add it to the batter.
    prabha aka desimom in Indira’s blog

    Hi Prabha. Thanks for the tip. I had never thought of including veges into the adai!

  3. U take excellent pix. Thanx for sharing.

    Thanks, Pushpa. My camera is very basic though…one of these days I’ll get to that digital Nikon to replace the Nikon SLR I don’t seem to use anymore!

  4. Adai is a regular in my home, have posted on paruppu adai a long while ago! Glad to see a kashmiri make adai though 🙂

    But, I am certain, I was a Dravidian in past life! 😉

  5. Hi,
    I’m in sharjah.from long time looking for this perfect adai recipe.finally i got it through your site.i will try it today.thank u.

    Hi Aysha. I hope the adai turned out perfect for you!

  6. Hi this receipe for adai is not good at all. u have not mentioned onions!

    try with onions – you will lick your fingers.

    – tjik

    Hi adai fan. My Tamil friends never served an onion-adai!! And since, the point was to recreate the adai of my childhood, I didn’t need to change Gopinath’s recipe. I love it just as it is!

    But maybe, I will try adding some onions next time and discover another favourite! To each his own.

  7. Peas and Cheese Adai: a variant on the basic or onion adai. Spread the batter on the pan (tava) with a lightly oiled bottom & then sprinkle a little oil around the edges as usual. Now, before the batter solidifies too much, sprinkle some green peas (fresh or frozen) on top. Press them into the batter with your fingers or with a spatula. When the bottom is fried enough, flip the adai over, so that the top & the peas get some heat. The peas will carmelize/blacken where they come into contact with the pan. Flip adai back on its back, and add a layer of cheese (cheese singles are especially convenient) on half of the adai. Fold the other half over. Press down firmly with spatula. Flip the taco-like adai over; you may want to add a bit of water to the hot pan & cover (the steam melts the cheese quickly). Eat!

    Thanks, Mahesh for another variation. Just this week we tried the onion adai as suggested in comments here by another adai fan! It got the ‘thumbs up’! Next time with Peas (no cheese though) 🙂

  8. If I’m in a hurry, and don’t have the right dals available, I’ll just use what I have (e.g. masoor dal — the orange one). The adai still comes out pretty good. Another lazy idea: instead of making tomato chutney, which is great with adai, just use some tomato salsa. There are a lot of varieties of salsa, and some work out quite nicely! Cheese adai tomorrow, yay!
    Hi Mahesh. Yes, I’ve seen other bloggers post 16 bean adais! SO basically this can be a clean-up-the-larder recipe!

  9. You have some great variations going here! My problem is that by the time I know I want to eat adai, it’s time to eat it or very close to it. Does this ‘quick-soak’ thing work for the dals for adai? (Bring water to a boil, add the beans/dal/whatever, boil for a couple of minutes, take off the heat and cover tightly for an hour.)

    I think it would work since fermentation is not the point.

  10. Adai looks yummy…i like the combo of adai dosa and aviyal….i didt know that adai is so simple…love to try it sometimes…thanku for sharing…recently i hav started blogging…feel free to to look it…

  11. hi ,
    thanks for the lovely recipes. i was going thru the comments and would like to add to the one who mentioned about onion adai.. . i add cabbage or methi leaves or spinach too. tastes wonderful and makes it healthier too. hope u can try them out adding these.!

    Methi sounds very interesting! I will be sure to try your suggestions next time.

  12. The recipe looks wonderful. As a tip I thought i should let you know. The coarse grinding is the key. My mom grinds in such a way that some channa dal used to retain its shape albeit soft. My mixing chopped onion we add awesomeness to it. You can use Jaggery as a side to eat this stuff. Then you adding divinity to it.

  13. I just found your site–it’s great! Thanks for the great recipes! (i was definately Indian in a past life)

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