Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quick and easy adai

Adais are crispy crepes, a bit thicker than dosas and a lot easier to make.  There is no fermentation or advance planning necessary.

I can still remember all my friends coming to my house and my mom making her delicious adais.  She will give us one on a plate with molaga podi and will start making the next one.  Before she even spreads the batter on the pan, we will be done with the first – all of us eating from the same plate, Ethiopian style.  I have had adais in other places, but nothing comes close to the way she makes it.  She adds onions and veggies to the batter and makes them extra crispy and spicy.

I make them once every month or so, when I am running out of ideas on what to make for dinner. 

In Kerala, adai is served with avail (a veggie stew).  My mom serves it with jaggery or molaga podi.  My kids like it with melted cheese. 

Here is the basic adai recipe. I have also made a much more healthier version with brown rice and whole lentils or beans.  I will post that recipe later.

What you need:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup mixed lentils (toor dal, chana dal, urad dal, moong dal)
  • 4 dry red chilies
  • 2 green chilies
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1/2 cup or so vegetable of your choice (chopped spinach, finely chopped onions, grated cabbage, grated carrots, finely chopped potatoes)
  • few curry leaves
  • oil to make the adais

  • I use a bit more of the toor and channa dals (together making up 2/3rd cup) and a little less of the moong and urad dals (together making up 1/3rd cup).
  • I used chopped baby spinach this time,  to make my adais.
  • You can add more red chilies or less- depending on your tolerance for spices.  Sometimes, after I have made the batter, I find it less spicy.  In that case, I add some red chili flakes.


To make adais:  


  1. Soak the rice and lentils in water for about 2 – 3 hours.
  2. Drain the water and then grind it to a coarse paste with salt, hing, red chilies, green chilies, and ginger.  I use my blender to make the batter.  Take care to make the batter thick – don’t add a lot of water while blending.
  3. Now add the chopped spinach (or the vegetable you are using), and some curry leaves.  Mix well.
  4. Heat a tawa or a griddle.  I like using my cast iron tawa for adais.
  5. Pour a ladle full of batter onto the heated tawa and spread it out to make the adai – like in the picture above.  It should be slightly thicker than dosas.
  6. Make a small hole in the middle and drizzle oil around the adai as well as in the center. 
  7. Wait for a few minutes – maybe about 3 -4 minutes and then carefully flip it over.
  8. Cook on both sides till the adai is crispy.
  9. Serve hot with chutney, sambar, molaga podi, jaggery or avail.

To add cheese – once the adai is cooked and crispy, sprinkle some grated cheese and fold it in half. Let it sit on the tawa for about 30 seconds, till the cheese is melted.  Cheesy adai is ready.  Some people prefer to eat this with ketchup.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sooji Dhokla

My friend Shashi makes the best sooji dhoklas. They are so popular, that when we have potluck dinners, she is almost always asked to bring dhoklas. I have tried making them multiple times.  Mine are edible, but nowhere near as good as hers. Her secret to perfect dhoklas is really sour yogurt. I never plan well enough in advance to leave my yogurt out for it to get sour.

I make yogurt at home.  I don’t like the texture of store-bought yogurt.  Most of the time, my yogurt turns out to be perfect.  Last week, we had an unusually cold spell and my yogurt did not set.  So, I had to leave it out for longer than I normally would have.  Only, I forgot about it.  It stayed out for more than 48 hours and I was now left with a very sour batch of yogurt.  When life gives you sour yogurt, make dhoklas!

Ingredients for dhoklas:
  •  2 cups coarse sooji (cream of wheat or semolina)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 cup sour yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  •  salt to taste
  • a pinch of turmeric
  •  ½” piece ginger, grated
  •  2 green chilies, finely chopped
  •  2 tsp. Eno fruit salt
  • non stick cooking spray

To make dhoklas:

1.     Mix the sooji, oil, turmeric, and salt
2.     Add the ginger, green chilis, salt, and yogurt.
3.     Add water to the above mixture till you get the consistency of idli or thick pancake batter.
4.     Let this sit for 15 – 30 minutes.
5.     In the meantime, grease the dhokla plates with nonstick spray.
6.     Bring a little bit of water to boil in your pressure cooker or stock pot.
7.     Mix the batter thoroughly and add more water or yogurt if it has become too thick.
8.     Add the Eno fruit salt and mix again.
9.     Pour this batter immediately into the dhokla plates taking care to fill them only about 1/2 to 2/3rd of the way.
10. Place the dhokla stand in the cooker and steam for 15 – 20 minutes.  Do not let the pressure build.
11. Take the dhoklas out and let them cool for some time.

Ingredients for tadka (tempering):

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
  • ½ tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 2 green chilies slit
  • Few curry leaves
  • Few cilantro sprigs

1.    Wash and chop the cilantro and curry leaves and spread it on the dhoklas
2.    Heat oil in a small saucepan.
3.    When it is hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing and green chilis.
4.    When the mustard seeds sputter, turn off the stove and sprinkle this evenly on the dhoklas

To serve:

Cut the dhoklas into desired shape and arrange on a plate.  Serve hot with cilantro/mint chutney.

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