This article will show you how to prepare your very own adai recipe.
What Are The Ingredients Used In An Adai Recipe?
The main ingredient in any adai recipe is split red lentil (masoor dal).
This is typically soaked overnight before cooking it for about 45 minutes until tender.
Other commonly used ingredients include coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, turmeric powder, asafetida, black salt (kala namak), green chillies, ginger, garlic, onion, curry leaves, tomatoes, rice, and yogurt.
You can use these basic ingredients interchangeably depending on what you have available at home.
If you don’t have all the necessary ingredients mentioned above, you can substitute them with other similar items that work well together.
Here’s some more information on each of the ingredients used in this recipe:
- Coriander seeds – The aromatic spice is widely grown throughout India, which makes it easily accessible.
- Fenugreek seeds – Also known as methi seeds, they add fragrance to dishes and help reduce cholesterol levels.
- Mustard seeds – Commonly used in pickles across southern states of India, their unique taste adds flavor to food.
- Turmeric powder – A staple spice in many curries from south Asia, it helps brighten up dull-colored foods.
- Asafetida – An essential ingredient in most Indian recipes, its pungent smell acts as a natural preservative.
- Green Chillies – They pack a punch when added to hot curries and masalas.
- Garlic – Its strong flavor enhances the aroma of the final product.
- Onion – Adding onions to recipes gives off a sweet and savory taste while also adding depth of flavor.
- Tomatoes – Their acidic nature lends itself perfectly to spicy dishes like adais.
- Rice – Rice has high starch content and absorbs flavors well.
- It provides a creamy texture to soups, porridges, and gravies.
- Yogurt – Made from fermented milk, it contains probiotics, which boost immunity.
If you want to learn how to make adai without using these ingredients, check out our guide below!
What Is The Traditional Method Of Making An Adai?
The traditional way of preparing an adai recipe involves boiling dried red lentils until they become soft.
Once cooked, the mixture is strained through a fine-meshed strainer to remove any excess water.
The resulting paste is then mixed with rice flour (also known as atta), which helps bind the mixture together.
This mixture is then kneaded by hand to form a dough that’s firm enough for rolling it out into small flat dumplings.
These can be fried on a hot plate or deep fryer until golden brown.
Adais are typically served alongside meals like idli and dosas – both of which are savory preparations made from fermented batter.
But this isn’t always the case! You may also find these crispy treats being served alongside curries and other dishes.
In India, adais are usually eaten at breakfast time, but there are many different ways to eat them.
Some people prefer eating their adais fresh while others enjoy reheating them later in the day.
If you want to try something new, here are several recipes you might enjoy trying:
What Are Some Variations Of The Adai Recipe?
The adai recipe varies from region to region in India.
For example, in Tamil Nadu, it’s traditionally prepared using red lentils (masoor dal), while in Karnataka, they use yellow split peas (moong dal).
In Kerala, adais are cooked using green mung beans (uridala moong) instead.
In Andhra Pradesh, people prefer to cook their adais with black gram lentil (kadalai urudal).
The spice combination for this variant differs slightly from the other recipes as well.
One common ingredient that appears on every single adai recipe is cumin seeds, which adds flavor and makes them taste amazing!
So, if you want to make an authentic adai recipe, try out one of these regional variants below.
However, before we get into the details, let us first talk about the history behind adai.
Adai was originally known as ‘dhal-chawal’ in ancient times.
This means that adai used to be eaten more often than rice.
People would eat adai along with dosa, idli, and uttapam.
Nowadays, adai is considered to be a complete meal by itself.
So, now that you know its origin, let us move onto the different ways of cooking adai.
What Types Of Accompaniments Go Well With An Adai?
Adai (pronounced ah-dye) is a tasty meal that’s great for breakfast or dinner.
It can be eaten as part of a traditional vegetarian meal or enjoyed on its own.
In fact, there are many different ways to enjoy this flavorful dish.
For example, you can serve it in a bowl alongside rice or add other ingredients like dal, vegetables, and pickles.
Or, if you want to make it more filling, you can include noodles, bread, or even meat in addition to the usual lentil-based mixture.
The following list includes some common accompaniment options when serving adai.
These items can be used alone or combined depending upon your preference.
- Coconut Chutney – This sweet condiment is commonly used as a topping over adai.
- Coconut chutney adds flavor and texture while also providing a good source of healthy fat.
- Sambar – Sambar is another popular accompaniment to adai.
- It has a tangy taste that complements the flavors of the lentils and rice.
- Rice & Dal – Rice and dal goes really well together because they both complement each other nutritionally.
- Both foods provide protein and fiber while having low glycemic index values.
- They pair up perfectly for a complete meal.
- Vegetables – Vegetable toppings such as carrots, potatoes, peas, beans, etc., add color and nutrients to any meal.
- You can buy these veggies pre-cut in bags at most grocery stores.
- Pickle – Pickled green chili peppers have been found to lower blood pressure.
- So, adding them into your adai makes sense since they contain antioxidants and vitamin C.
- Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans – Chickpeas are packed full of essential amino acids which help build proteins in our body.
- Garbanzos are high in iron, folate, Vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper.
- All of these vitamins and minerals are important for proper health.
- Noodles – Noodles can be added to your adai to create a substantial meal without sacrificing nutritional value.
- There are several varieties of noodles available including udon, soba, spaghetti, ramen, etc.; however, all of them work well with adai.
- Bread – Bread can be sliced and placed on top of the cooked adai.
- The crust provides crunch and helps absorb excess oil from the lentils.
- However, you should only use whole wheat bread instead of white flour bread since it contains less sugar and calories.
How Long Does It Take To Cook An Adai?
Adai takes about 45 minutes from start to finish.
If you have the time, try making this meal for lunch or dinner on a weekday when you don’t need to rush out the door after work.
- Prepare the ingredients first (see below).
- Cook the rice in salted water until tender but not mushy.
- Drain off any excess liquid.
- Add the cooked rice to the pan along with all other ingredients except the oil.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and stir constantly so that the mixture doesn’t burn.
- You can also use 2 tablespoons of ghee instead of olive oil if you want.
- Serve hot over steamed white basmati rice and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
If you want to save some time, you may be able to skip step 3 altogether by using store bought pre-cooked rice.
However, I recommend doing the extra steps because they ensure you get perfect results every time.
What Type Of Lentils Are Commonly Used To Make An Adai?
Adai is a delicious South Indian dish which originated in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The name ‘ada’ means lentil while ‘i’ refers to rice.
Thus, adai literally translates as cooked lentils with rice.
There are several varieties of lentils that can be used to create this delicacy, but most people use red gram (urid dal), green gram (moong dal) or masoor dal.
These three types of lentils have different cooking times, so they need to be prepared separately for the best results.
Red lentils require the longest amount of time to cook because their outer layer has been removed during processing.
Green lentils only have one skin on them, so they don’t require any pre-soaking before being boiled.
Finally, brown lentils do not require any soaking at all.
The following chart shows the approximate times needed to boil each type of lentil until tender enough to eat without breaking apart when bitten into.
- Red Lentils – 1 hour 30 minutes
- Green Lentils – 25 minutes
- Brown Lentils – 20 minutes
If you’re making an adai using whole legumes, then it’s important to add these to the pot first.
This way, the entire batch cooks together rather than having some beans overcooking while others remain undercooked.
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup green lentils
- 1/2 cup brown lentils
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 medium onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- A few curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
Step by step instructions
Put all ingredients except the seasoning powders into a large saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a low simmer and let cook for about 15 minutes.
Add the seasoning powders and stir well.
When the lentils turn yellowish-brown, they are cooked through.
Remove from heat and serve warm.
What Spices Are Typically Added To An Adai?
Adais have several types of ingredients in them, including dals (lentil varieties), rice, tamarind, and vegetables like onions and tomatoes.
They can also be flavored with spices like coriander seeds, cumin, black pepper, red chillies, turmeric, asafetida, fenugreek leaves, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, green cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, bay leaves, mustard seeds, saffron strands, and dried mango powder.
A common adai spice mix includes any combination of these items.
For instance, you could add all five of those listed above into one bowl, but it would be more practical if you had each item on its own plate when serving food for guests.
Lentils are generally cooked by soaking overnight before using them in dishes such as khichdi or adais.
The major advantage to cooking lentils this way is that they absorb less water than other legumes.
This allows the cook to use fewer grains of rice to soak up excess moisture from the lentils.
Most people prefer brown or yellow split pigeon peas to white ones because they take longer to cook.
If you want to try something different, however, red lentils are quick-cooking and easy to find at most grocery stores.
You’ll need about half cup of uncooked basmati rice per person to serve two people.
Other kinds of rice may work well too, just keep in mind that some rices require slightly more liquid to cook properly.
If you don’t have access to fresh rice, you can buy frozen basmati rice instead.
Frozen rice has been flash-frozen so that it retains its shape better during shipping.
You should thaw the rice thoroughly prior to cooking it.
Tamarind pulp is available either canned or dry.
If you opt for the former, look for tamarind paste which comes in small packets.
Dry tamarind pieces tend to come packaged individually.
Both forms can be found in supermarkets worldwide.
To open the packet, simply break off the corners of the pouch until you see the tamarind piece inside.
The seeds in tamarind pods contain high concentrations of oxalic acid, a compound that breaks down calcium in the bloodstream.
Because of this, many doctors advise against consuming large amounts of tamarind due to concerns over kidney stones.
Some cooks like to leave out their vegetable additions altogether while others add them at the end of the cooking process.
Either way, you’ll need to chop your vegetables into bite-sized chunks.
You can save time by purchasing pre-chopped vegetables rather than chopping yourself, especially if you plan on making multiple batches of the same meal.
How Do You Make The Adai Batter?
Adai is traditionally prepared by first soaking the red gram dal in water for about 4 hours before grinding it into a fine paste using mortar and pestle.
This step helps remove some of the starches from the legumes, giving them a smooth texture that’s easy to cook.
The masala powder can be purchased online if you don’t have access to a spice store near you — however, this isn’t necessary as most major grocery stores carry all the ingredients needed to create an authentic adai.
Once you have the ground masala ready, add 1 cup of warm water (100°F) and stir until well combined.
Let sit for 5 minutes to activate the enzymes within the beans, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow it to rest overnight.
In the morning, add another cup of water to the bowl and mix thoroughly once again.
Now you’re ready to start cooking!
The next step involves adding the soaked red grams to a pressure cooker pot and filling it up with enough water so that there’s at least 2 inches above the top of the pot.
Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Afterward, turn off the stovetop and cover the pot with its lid.
Leave the covered pot on the countertop for 30 minutes.
After these two steps, you’ll need to strain out any remaining impurities left behind after cooking the red grams.
For this, place a colander over a bowl and pour the contents of the pressure cooker pot through the colander into the bowl below.
When finished straining, set aside the liquid that was collected during the process.
Now that we have our adai batter ready to use, the final step involves making the adai itself.
To begin, take three tablespoons of the adai batter and spread it onto each side of a hot skillet.
Cook the batter for 3 minutes per side on both sides, flipping only when the edges become golden brown.
Next, carefully flip the pancakes onto a plate and repeat the same procedure with the remaining batter.
Finally, top each pancake with one tablespoon of butter along with a drizzle of honey.
Serve immediately while still piping hot.
You can also enjoy your adai with a simple accompaniment such as plain yogurt or pickled vegetables.
What Is The Best Way To Serve An Adai?
Adai has long been a staple in most south Indian households, especially those that follow Hinduism.
The traditional preparation method for this dish includes soaking the dal overnight (a form of pre-cooking) along with other ingredients like turmeric powder, mustard seeds, rice flour, and salt.
Once ready, it can be fried or baked until golden brown, before being served on top of rice or roti with some accompaniments such as pickle or curry sauce.
There are many variations of adai recipes out there, but they all share one thing in common – the use of lentil dals.
Dals come from pulses, which are legumes known for their nutritional value.
They contain essential amino acids and proteins that aid in building muscle mass when combined with high quality protein sources like eggs and meat.
Lentils also have less carbs than grains and help reduce blood pressure.
Here’s everything you need to know about making an adai.
To begin preparing your adai, first gather all the necessary utensils and ingredients.
You’ll need 1 cup of black gram or urad dhal soaked in water overnight, 2 cups of raw rice, a tablespoon of ghee or oil, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 2 tablespoons of chopped green onions, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste, half a dozen fresh red chillies, 1/4 teaspoon of asafetida, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of garam masala.
Also, if you want to add more flavor, you can add 1 sprig of curry leaves at the end.
For additional spice, you can always add 1/8 teaspoon of pepper powder.
While soaking the dal is optional, I recommend doing so because it makes the final product much smoother.
Soak the dal over night in enough water to cover them completely.
Next, rinse off any remaining dirt or sand, then drain the excess water using a strainer.
Now, heat up a frying pan or skillet and melt the butter or ghee into it.
Then, add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fenugreek seeds and allow them to crackle slightly.
Add the onion and garlic, followed by the ginger paste.
After letting these cook for another minute, add the red chillies, turmeric powder, salt, and garam masala.
Stir well and let simmer for 5 minutes while adding a bit of water every now and again to prevent burning.
Then, add the drained dal to the mixture and gently stir it around.
Finally, turn the stove down to low heat and wait until the mixture changes color, indicating that it is cooked through.
If you prefer your adai sweeter, feel free to add sugar after removing it from the fire.
Now, remove the contents of the pan onto a plate and set aside.
Once cool enough, transfer back into the same bowl and mix together thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, combine the rice and the reserved water.
When both bowls are ready, pour the rice into the main bowl containing the dal and mix it together thoroughly.
This step ensures that each grain gets coated evenly with the liquid.
Next, take a clean bowl and place it inside a large plastic bag, sealing it shut tightly.
Pour the dal mixture into the bowl and shake the bag vigorously to ensure that the dal doesn’t stick to its sides.
Repeat this process twice more, and then leave the dal mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
This allows the starch granules within the rice to absorb moisture and become smooth.
Afterwards, return the dal mixture to the original mixing bowl and fold it together.
Finally, divide the dal mixture between two greased baking pans and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- 1 cup red split peas (or any other type)
- 3 cups water
- 4 tablespoons oil (coconut oil preferred)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ tablespoon cumin seeds
- Salt as per taste
- ¾ cup urad dal (split black gram) (optional)
- Chilli powder for seasoning
- 5-6 curry leaves
- Wash all ingredients thoroughly in plenty of cold water until no impurities are left on them.
- Heat 3 cups of water in a deep frying pan till it starts boiling.
- Add 4 teaspoons of salt and stir well to dissolve completely.
- Now add all the lentil materials into this pot one by one making sure that they do not stick together.
- Stir continuously so that each ingredient has time to absorb enough water.
- Once done, turn off the heat source and cover the vessel tightly.
- Leave the lid open for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, check if there is still some liquid inside the pot.
- If yes, keep stirring continuously for another minute.
- Now remove from fire and leave it aside for 10 minutes.
- Next step is to take out the contents of the pot and drain excess moisture through a colander placed over a sink/bowl.
- Do not press down hard while draining because it will make the adai dry up.
- Add ¾ cup of urad dal along with 2 tablespoons of ghee.
- Mix well and cook it again on medium flame for about 1-2 minutes.
- Keep adding ½ cup more of water every now and then till you get the consistency of porridge like texture.
- At times, you might need to adjust the amount of water accordingly depending upon the size of your vessel.
- If you have used red split peas, mix it with ¾ cup of urad dal at this stage.
- Also, add chilli powder, turmeric power and curry leaves before serving.
- ½ cup regular rice or idli rice or parboiled rice
- ¼ cup chana dal split and husked bengal gram
- ¼ cup urad dal split and husked black gram
- ¼ cup tuvar dal arhar dal, pigeon pea lentils
- 2 dry red chilies byadagi or kashmiri, seeds removed
- 1.5 cups water for soaking
- 1.5 teaspoons ginger chopped
- 1 generous pinch asafoetida hing
- 1 chopped green chili optional
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds optional
- ¾ cup water for grinding or add as required
- ⅓ cup onions finely chopped or finely chopped or pearl onions or shallots
- 2 teaspoons curry leaves chopped finely or or 8 to 10 curry leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup coriander leaves chopped
- ¼ cups coconut grated
- salt as required
- oil as required
Rice and lentils soak
- Rinse and soak 1.5 cups water with regular rice or idli rice, chana dal, urad dal, tuvar dal, and dry red chilies (byadagi or kashmiri) for 2 to 3 hours.
- You can also store it overnight.
How to Make Adai Batter
- Drain the water and combine the rice, lentils, and red chilies in a grinder jar.
- Add the chopped ginger and hing as well. You can also add 1 green chili and 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds at this point.
- Mix in 3/4 cup water to make a semi-coarse, medium-thick batter. Make sure the batter is not too fine.
- Put the batter in a mixing bowl. Cover and set aside for at least 20 minutes, or up to 1 to 2 hours.
- Finely chop the onions (or pearl onions or shallots), coriander leaves, and curry leaves. Grated coconut can also be added.
- As needed, season with salt. Mix thoroughly.
- Warm a cast iron skillet or tawa with a little oil.
- Pour the batter onto the tawa with a ladle full of batter. Spread the batter quickly into a round circle.
- Make a small dent or hole in the center with the back of a spoon. This aids in the even cooking of the adai.
- Drizzle some oil in the center and around the edges.
- Cook until the adai is crisp and golden on medium-low to medium heat. Then flip them over. You can also cook it with a lid on top.
- Cook the adai on the second side until it is well cooked with golden brown spots. Then flip and serve. This method allows you to make adai in batches.
- Protein-rich adai can be paired with white butter, jaggery, idli-dosa podi, or avial. It goes well with coconut chutney, tomato chutney, or tomato-onion chutney.