Authentic Adai Recipe - A Flavorful Vegetarian Indian Dish


Authentic Adai Recipe - A Flavorful Vegetarian Indian Dish
Region / culture: India | Preparation time: 2 hours | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet



Adai is a nutritious and hearty dish hailing from South India, known for its rich texture and flavorful taste. It is a type of pancake made from a fermented batter of rice and lentils, spiced with chilies and seasoned with onions and herbs. This versatile dish can be enjoyed as breakfast, lunch, or dinner, making it a staple in many South Indian households.


The history of Adai traces back to ancient times in South India, where it was a common part of the diet among various communities. It is believed to have originated as a simple, nutritious meal for farmers and workers who needed a substantial meal to sustain them through their long, hard days of labor. Over time, the recipe evolved, incorporating various local ingredients and cooking techniques, to become the beloved dish it is today.


How to prepare

  1. In a large vessel, combine rice, chana dal, urad dal, and yellow split peas.
  2. Soak the mixture in plenty of water for approximately 2 hours.
  3. Coarsely grind the soaked mixture with chili powder and salt, avoiding excessive water.
  4. Allow the mixture to ferment for about 3 - 4 hours, then refrigerate or freeze it.
  5. In colder weather, the fermentation process may take longer, so consider fermenting in an oven to keep it warm (the pilot light can help).
  6. Before preparing, add finely chopped onions, grated carrot, or coconut to the mixture.
  7. If freezing, ferment for only about an hour.
  8. Allow the mixture to sit out for some time before it is ready to use.


  • 1. Quinoa Adai: Substitute half of the rice with quinoa for a protein-rich variation.
  • 2. Spinach Adai: Add finely chopped spinach to the batter for an iron-rich version.
  • 3. Multigrain Adai: Use a mix of different grains like millet, quinoa, and barley along with rice for added nutrition.
  • 1. Quinoa Adai: Substitute half of the rice with quinoa for a protein-packed variation.
  • 2. Spinach Adai: Add finely chopped spinach to the batter for an extra dose of iron and vitamins.
  • 3. Cheese Adai: Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the Adai while it's cooking for a delicious, gooey texture.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

1. Soaking the lentils and rice overnight can significantly reduce the preparation time and enhance the fermentation process.

2. A well-fermented batter is key to making soft and fluffy Adai pancakes. Ensure the batter has a slightly sour smell and bubbles on the surface.

3. Use a heavy-bottomed pan or griddle to ensure even cooking and to achieve a crispy exterior.

4. Adding a bit of grated ginger or asafoetida (hing) to the batter can enhance the flavor and aid in digestion.

Serving Suggestions

Adai can be served hot with a dollop of butter or ghee on top. It pairs wonderfully with coconut chutney, tomato chutney, or avial (a mixed vegetable curry with coconut and yogurt). For a more substantial meal, serve it with a side of sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew).

Cooking Techniques

The traditional method involves using a heavy iron griddle to cook Adai, which imparts a unique flavor and crispiness. Modern non-stick pans can also be used for ease of cooking and less oil consumption.

Ingredient Substitutions

1. Brown rice can be used instead of white rice for a healthier version.

2. Any combination of lentils can be used based on availability and preference.

3. For a no-onion version, increase the quantity of curry leaves and coriander for flavor.

Make Ahead Tips

The Adai batter can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. This makes it a convenient option for quick meals. Just bring the batter to room temperature before cooking.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Adai on a banana leaf for a traditional touch. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with a side of brightly colored chutneys to enhance the visual appeal.

Pairing Recommendations

Adai pairs well with light, tangy beverages like buttermilk or fresh lime soda. These help balance the richness of the dish and aid in digestion.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover Adai in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat on a pan over medium heat until warm and crispy. Avoid microwaving as it can make the Adai chewy.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A single serving of Adai (approximately one pancake) contains about 150-200 calories, making it a moderate-calorie meal option that can fit into various dietary needs.


A serving of Adai is a good source of complex carbohydrates, primarily from the rice and lentils used in the batter. These complex carbs provide a steady release of energy, making Adai an excellent meal option for sustained energy throughout the day.


Adai is relatively low in fats. The small amount present comes from the cooking oil used for frying the pancakes. Using heart-healthy oils like coconut or olive oil can make it a more nutritious option.


The combination of rice and lentils in Adai makes it a rich source of plant-based proteins. This balanced mix ensures the presence of all essential amino acids, making it an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

Vitamins and minerals

Adai is packed with various vitamins and minerals, thanks to the inclusion of lentils, rice, and spices. It is particularly rich in B vitamins, iron, potassium, and magnesium, all of which are crucial for maintaining good health.


The primary allergens in Adai may include lentils for those with legume allergies. However, it is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.


Overall, Adai is a nutritious meal option that provides a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and essential vitamins and minerals. It is low in fats and calories, making it suitable for those looking to maintain a healthy diet.


Adai is a versatile, nutritious dish that embodies the essence of South Indian cuisine. With its rich history and the ability to incorporate various ingredients, it offers a delightful culinary experience. Whether you're looking for a hearty breakfast or a satisfying dinner, Adai is a perfect choice that promises both nutrition and flavor.

How did I get this recipe?

The memory of discovering this recipe for the first time is a cherished one. It was many years ago, when I was just a young girl living in a small village in southern India. My grandmother, who was known for her culinary skills, had invited a group of her friends over for a traditional cooking session. I remember watching in awe as she effortlessly whipped up a variety of dishes, each more delicious than the last.

As the women chatted and laughed, I sat quietly in the corner, absorbing every detail of the cooking process. I was fascinated by the way my grandmother combined different spices and ingredients to create mouthwatering dishes that tantalized the senses. It was during this gathering that I first learned about the recipe for Adai, a savory pancake made from a mixture of lentils and rice.

I watched as my grandmother soaked a variety of lentils and rice in water for several hours, before grinding them into a coarse paste. She then added chopped onions, green chilies, and curry leaves to the mixture, along with a generous sprinkling of salt and turmeric. The batter was then ladled onto a hot griddle and cooked until golden brown and crispy on the edges.

As the Adai sizzled on the griddle, filling the air with its tantalizing aroma, I knew that I had to learn how to make this delicious dish for myself. I begged my grandmother to teach me her secrets, and she happily obliged, guiding me through each step of the process with patience and love.

Over the years, I have refined my technique and added my own personal touch to the recipe. I have experimented with different variations, adding vegetables like carrots and spinach to the batter, or topping the Adai with a dollop of tangy coconut chutney. Each time I make this dish, I am transported back to that day in my grandmother's kitchen, surrounded by the warmth and love of family.

The recipe for Adai has become a staple in my own kitchen, and I take great pride in sharing it with my own friends and family. It is a dish that brings people together, sparking conversation and laughter around the dining table. The flavors of the lentils and rice mingle harmoniously with the spices and herbs, creating a symphony of taste that is truly unforgettable.

As I grow older, I am grateful for the memories and traditions that have been passed down to me through the generations. The recipe for Adai is not just a dish, but a piece of my family's history, a link to the past that I hold dear in my heart. I hope that one day, my own grandchildren will sit in my kitchen, watching with wide eyes as I prepare this dish, eager to learn the secrets of its deliciousness.

But for now, I will continue to cook and share this recipe with those I love, honoring the legacy of my grandmother and the culinary traditions of my homeland. The memory of discovering this recipe for the first time will always be a cherished one, a reminder of the bonds that tie us together through the simple act of cooking and sharing a meal.


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