Adai is a nutrient dense, protein-packed and overall healthy breakfast/tiffin. It is a savoury pancake that is a crustier and more wholesome version of its cousin dosai.
Growing up, adai was one dish that I had a love-hate relationship with. I’d even go far as to say it was more hate than love. Generally, a non-fussy child, I didn’t dislike too many things that were put in a plate in front of me. A lot of the foods would disappear in minutes and with little to no wastage.
The same couldn’t be said of adai. An ardent crisp dosai lover from very young, there was something about the texture and the thickness of it that didn’t appeal to me. However, the only exciting part of adai on the menu was the prospect of jaggery and butter being served with it.
Fast forward a few years, I started appreciating how nutritious adai on its own was. The texture issues were well, not so much an issue anymore.
For the good part of my twenties, adai was out of sight and out of mind. Living in Bangalore during the period, adai was a lesser known dish and I had limited access to cooking in my paying guest accommodation.
Thank goodness for my husband! He loves a good Indian meal and has a special preference for South Indian cuisine. It was no surprise that he loves adai. Several trials later, I can confidently say that I have honed the adai making skill to my liking. Added bonus, my husband loves the adais I make; he says, I make the best adais. Winning! Even my friend for whom I often make adai batter, loves it. It’s something her whole family enjoys.
I figured, in my adai making trials, that the tiffin didn’t appeal to me in the past because it was ground too coarse and I didn’t like the lentils being too bitey in texture when the adai is made. So, it simply took grinding the batter smooth with very minimal coarseness for me to fall in love with the tiffin. I can’t believe that I went all these years without adai just because of the batter!
How about some options to serve adai with?
Yields: 20 to 30 Adais
- Toor dal – ½ cup
- Channa dal (Bengal gram) ¼ cup
- Urad dal – ¼ cup
- Masoor dal ¼ cup
- Raw rice or any short-grained rice variety ( I used ponni) – 1 cup
- Dried red chillies – 8 to 10
- Asafoetida – ¼ tspn
- Curry leaves – 1 sprig
- Salt – As required
- Oil – To make the adais (I use gingely oil)
- Butter – To serve
To Make the Batter
- Wash and soak all the items listed under ‘To Soak’. Let the ingredients soak for 3 to 4 hours.
- Grind the ingredients with curry leaves, asafoetida and required water.
- You could choose to grind it smooth or coarse. I prefer a smoother batter with some coarse bits for the bite.
- Aim to achieve a thicker batter than the dosai batter. Adjust water quantity accordingly.
- Once done, transfer to a clean vessel and add the salt.
- Mix well to combine the ingredients.
- The batter is ready to use, or you could let it refrigerate for a few hours before making adais.
To Make Adais
- Heat a tava/pan.
- Pour a ladle full of adai batter on the hot tava.
- Spread evenly to make a circle.
- Drizzle some oil along the ends of the adai.
- Allow the adai to cook on medium high flame until a gold colour is achieved.
- Flip the adai when the edges are cooked and crisp.
- Cook the other side of the adai.
- Remove from the pan.
- Repeat the steps to make more adais.
- Optionally, you could set aside some batter. Add finely chopped onions, curry leaves and green chillies in the batter.
- Mix well and repeat the above steps to make the adais.
- Serve hot with your chutney and/or podi of choice.
- Add or adjust ingredients depending on the intended quantity and ingredient availability
- Make adais as think or thick depending on your preference. I enjoy thin to medium thickness for adai.
- You can completely skip the butter if you prefer a vegan or dairy-free meal.
- Serve with any accompaniements you like; aviyal is a popular side for the tiffin. Typically, at home, my mum would serve adai with jaggery, onion chutney and some butter.