Ada Dosa (also known as Adai in Tamil Nadu) is essentially a multigrain pancake containing white rice, urad dal, chana dal and toor dal combined with dried red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves. A deliciously healthy and savory snack that is hearty enough to be served at breakfast, Ada Dosa goes famously well with your choice of side. Tangy lime pickle? Yes. Spicy mango relish? Oh yes. Sweet peach jam? Absolutely. Mint-cilantro-coconut chutney? Lovely! Good old tomato ketchup? Nice. Or my personal favorite, a good chunk of jaggery. Oh, a blob of salted butter hits the spot too!
The rice and dals are soaked in water for a few hours beforehand. This softens them and facilitates the grinding process. Red chillies are also soaked along with the dal-rice mixture.
I know that looks like a LOT of red chillies (Mummy just threw them in there) but be assured, I took most of them out… 🙂
I asked Mom about the proportions she used for the dals and rice. Now she is an experienced home cook, intuitive and spontaneous (exasperatingly random at times!) in her approach to cooking (and life, in a larger context). Naturally, she didn’t recall the quantities she used. But she thought a little and told me – 1 cup white rice (uncooked), 1 cup combined of toor dal, chana dal, urad dal.
After soaking the rice-dals-chillies for a few hours, I ground them all up in my good old mixer/grinder. Such a sturdy appliance this is… I could’t recommend it enough. Makes me bless the day P and I decided to buy it from the little appliance store in Bombay and lug it back to Atlanta.
You can see the little steel bowl (top) with red chillies. Those are the ones I took out. Pretty much, most of them, that is… 🙂
This is a naturally coarse batter but make sure that you grind it as fine as your mixer/grinder allows. Add sufficient water so the batter is light and flowing, and of a spreadable consistency but not excessively liquid-ey or watery.
Add the curry leaves towards the end. Add asafoetida and salt to taste.
Bring a cast iron skillet (or a non-stick pan) to heat, pour a ladleful of the batter, spread thinly to make a medium-sized pancake. Add a teaspoon (or less) of oil over the pancake and around it. When the edges begin to brown, use a spatula to flip the pancake over. Let it cook on the other side. When done, take it off the skillet. You can make it thin and crispy (use less batter and spread wide and thin) or thick and chunky.
Serve piping hot with your favorite side of pickle, relish, ketchup… anything!