Uttapam – Dani Valent

Uttapam

South Indian gluten-free fermented pancakes

Uttapam, idli and dosa are south Indian breads and pancakes made with the same fermented batter, most commonly made with a mixture of rice and lentils. Dosa are thin crepes, idli are steamed savoury cakes and uttapam are thicker savoury hotcakes. In south Indian households, they are each made with multiple variations. I find them extremely fun to play around with but I have to admit that I don’t often serve them traditionally.

This uttapam recipe is based on the dosa recipe in Sharon Flynn’s Ferment for Good book and the images are of us making it together. 

Makes: approx. 8 uttapan
Time: 30 minutes, plus 1-3 days fermenting

Ingredients

  • 1 cup short-grain rice (see Tips)
  • 1 cup white urad dal (see Tips)
  • oil or ghee

Method

1. Place rice and dal in separate bowls and cover generously with cold water. Cover and leave for 12 hours or overnight.

2. Strain rice, reserving water and place in mixing bowl (or food processor). Blend 45 sec/speed 10 (or until smooth in a food processor), adding a little soaking water if necessary to bring it to the consistency of thick pancake batter. Set aside in a mixing bowl.

3. Strain dal, reserving water and place in mixing bowl (or food processor). Blend 1 min/speed 10 (or until smooth in a food processor), adding a little soaking water if necessary to bring it to the consistency of thick pancake batter. Add to ground rice mixture and stir together. 

4. Mixture will rise – perhaps doubling in volume – so ensure bowl is large enough. Cover loosely with a cloth or lid and leave in a warm place for at least 24 hours to ferment.

5. When ready to cook, grease a shallow pan or crepe pan and add mixture. The thickness is up to you, and you can thin the mixture out with a little water if you want to spread it more thinly. Cook over medium heat. If you make them thin, they are dosa. If they are thicker, they are uttapam. Generally, they don’t need to be flipped, but it’s really up to you! This is a base recipe for you to have fun with. 

Tips

  • If you have an Indian grocer in your neighbourhood, ask for ‘idli rice’. Otherwise, use any short-grain rice, or any rice at all, really. You can also use pre-ground cream of rice.
  • Urad dal are black but the inside is white. You can use the black ones or the split ones but I like using the split, husked, white ones. Experiment with other dal or grains such as semolina.
  • Keep extra mixture in a jar in the fridge but be aware it will keep fermenting. You can add a little salt to slow down the fermentation.
  • There’s much debate on when or if to add salt to the batter. I recommend adding a pinch of salt after fermentation and before cooking.

Variations

  • Sambar is traditional with dosa.
  • Uttapam can be scattered with finely diced shallots, tomatoes and green chilli. You can also serve them with mint and coriander chutney.
  • It’s quite sacrilegious but I have been making uttapam with a fried egg on top, then flipping it to make a soft-yolked brunch – it’s SO GOOD! It’s sort of like a Sri Lankan egg hopper but then it gets a bit naughty. 

    My naughty uttapam

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