Savory Indian Pancake: Ultimate Uttapam Recipe & Serving Tips

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine starting your day with a delightful twist on the usual breakfast fare. Enter the savory Indian pancake, known as uttapam. This South Indian staple might just become your new morning favorite with its unique blend of fermented rice and lentil batter topped with fresh, vibrant toppings like tomatoes, onions, and green chilies.

Uttapam isn’t just a treat for the taste buds; it’s steeped in tradition, often enjoyed in Indian homes as a hearty breakfast or a satisfying snack. Its versatility and ease of preparation make it a fantastic option for any meal of the day. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious novice eager to explore the flavors of Indian cuisine, mastering uttapam promises a delightful culinary adventure.

Ingredients

As you continue your culinary journey with the savory uttapam, start by gathering all the necessary ingredients to make these flavorful pancakes. Remember, the freshness of the ingredients plays a significant role in enhancing the taste of uttapam.

For the Batter

  • 1 cup rice, preferably short-grain
  • 1/2 cup split urad dal (black lentils), without skin
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • Water for soaking and grinding
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil, for cooking

First, thoroughly rinse the rice and urad dal under cold water until the water runs clear. Soak them in separate bowls with the fenugreek seeds added to the dal, cover with plenty of water, and let them soak for at least 6 hours, or overnight for best results. After soaking, drain the water and blend the rice and dal mixture separately into a smooth paste, using enough fresh water to achieve the consistency of pancake batter. Combine the pastes in a large bowl, add salt, and let the batter ferment in a warm place for 8 to 10 hours until it doubles in size and bubbles appear on the surface.

For the Filling

  • 2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, finely minced (adjust according to your heat preference)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

Mix the chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and cilantro in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt to help release the juices of the vegetables, enhancing their flavor and making them easier to spread on the uttapam.

For the Optional Toppings

  • Grated coconut
  • Grated carrot
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Chopped cashews or peanuts for crunch

Optional toppings can be added to personalize the uttapam to your taste preferences. Sprinkle these over the filling for additional texture and flavor depth before cooking. Whether you keep it traditional or experiment with these toppings, the uttapam will be delicious and uniquely yours.

Equipment Needed

To ensure your savory Indian pancake, or uttapam, turns out perfectly, you’ll need a few key pieces of kitchen equipment. Having the right tools at hand not only makes the cooking process smoother but also enhances the final result. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Mixing Bowls: You’ll require a couple of mixing bowls of various sizes. A larger bowl is essential for mixing the batter to allow for proper fermentation without overflowing.
  • Blender or Grinder: A high-quality blender or grinder is necessary for blending the soaked rice and lentils into a smooth batter. This consistency is crucial for the perfect texture of uttapam.
  • Ladle or Cup: For pouring the batter onto the pan. A ladle will help you control the amount of batter and spread it evenly.
  • Cast Iron Skillet or Non-stick Pan: A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is traditional and preferred for making uttapam because it gives a beautiful crust to the pancakes. However, a non-stick pan can also be used for easier handling and cleaning.
  • Spatula: A sturdy spatula is necessary for flipping the uttapam to ensure both sides are evenly cooked and for serving them without breaking.
  • Chopping Board and Knife: Needed for finely chopping the toppings like onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and cilantro that will enhance the flavor of your uttapam.

Ensure each item is clean and ready to go before you start preparing your batter. This preparation simplifies the cooking process and allows you to focus on creating a delicious meal. Gather your equipment and let’s move to the next step of preparing the savory Indian pancake.

Prep Work

Before diving into the cooking, let’s start with some crucial preparation steps that will make the process smooth and enjoyable.

Making the Batter

To begin, you’ll need to prepare the batter for your uttapam. Gather 1 cup of rice and 1/3 cup of urad dal (split black lentils). Rinse these ingredients several times in cold water until the water runs clear—this helps to remove any impurities and excess starch. Soak the rice and lentils separately in water for at least 6 hours, or overnight if possible, to soften them and aid in grinding.

After soaking, drain the rice and lentils and place them in a blender or grinder. Add approximately 3/4 cup of water gradually as you blend to achieve a smooth, pouring consistency. The batter should be slightly thick yet pourable, similar to a pancake batter. Once blended, transfer the mixture to a large bowl, cover it, and let it ferment in a warm place for 8-12 hours. The fermentation process is crucial as it adds a slight tanginess and ensures the batter rises, making the pancakes fluffy and light.

Preparing the Filling

For a delicious and colorful topping, you’ll need to prepare the filling. Start by finely chopping 1 large onion, 1 green bell pepper, and 2 tomatoes. Also, mince 2 cloves of garlic and a small piece of ginger for an extra burst of flavor.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the minced garlic and ginger, sautéing until they start to brown. Then, add the chopped onions and bell pepper, cooking until they are soft and translucent. Next, introduce the tomatoes and cook until they are soft and the mixture is well-combined.

Season the filling with salt, red chili powder, and turmeric according to your taste preference. Cook for an additional two minutes, then remove from heat and set aside. This savory mixture will be spooned onto the uttapam as it cooks, creating a harmoniously flavorful topping.

Cooking Instructions

Now that your batter is perfectly fermented and your savory filling is ready, let’s get cooking! Follow these steps to make your delicious uttapam.

Cooking the Pancake

  1. Heat the Pan: Place a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water to check if the pan is hot enough. The water should sizzle away instantly.
  2. Grease the Pan: Lightly brush the pan with oil or use a spray to ensure the uttapam does not stick.
  3. Pour the Batter: Pour a ladleful of the batter into the center of the pan. Gently spread the batter outward in a circular motion to form a thick pancake about 6 inches in diameter.
  4. Cook on Medium Heat: Allow the batter to cook undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes or until the edges start to lift from the pan and the bottom is golden brown.
  5. Flip the Pancake: Carefully flip the pancake using a spatula. Cook the other side for an additional 2 minutes or until it is golden and crispy. Remove the pancake and keep it warm. Repeat this process with the remaining batter.

Adding the Filling to the Uttapam Batter

  1. Spoon the Filling: Once you flip the pancake, quickly spoon your prepared filling over the top, spreading it evenly, leaving a small margin around the edges.
  2. Press the Filling: Gently press the filling into the batter with the back of the spoon to ensure it sticks properly and cooks into the pancake.
  3. Cover and Cook: Cover the pan with a lid to ensure the top gets steamed and the filling cooks well. This step will take about 2 minutes.
  4. Serve Hot: Once done, remove the lid, ensure the bottom of the pancake is crispy and golden, and then slide the uttapam onto a plate. Serve hot with your choice of chutneys or sambar.

Serving Suggestions

After you’ve mastered creating the perfect uttapam, it’s time to think about how to serve them to truly capture the essence of this Indian culinary delight. Serving uttapam is not just about presentation but enhancing its flavors with the right accompaniments.

Accompaniments to Enhance Flavor

Uttapam traditionally pairs well with a variety of chutneys and sambar. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Coconut Chutney: Prepare this by grinding fresh grated coconut with green chilies, ginger, and a touch of tamarind. The creamy texture and vibrant freshness of the coconut chutney complement the savory taste of the uttapam.
  • Tomato Chutney: This offers a tangy and sweet flavor, perfect for adding a lively zest to the pancake. Blend tomatoes with red chilies, mustard seeds, and a hint of asafoetida.
  • Coriander Chutney: Made from fresh coriander leaves, green chilies, lemon juice, and spices, this chutney adds a burst of herbal brightness that lifts the earthy notes of the uttapam.
  • Sambar: A hearty and spicy lentil stew enriched with vegetables and tamarind. Its soupy consistency and aromatic spices make it an excellent dip for the thick and soft uttapam, soaking up the flavors beautifully.

Ideal Side Dishes

To transform your uttapam into a full meal, consider these side dishes:

  • Masala Fried Potatoes: Quick-fried spiced potatoes can add a crispy, aromatic contrast to the soft uttapam.
  • Cucumber Raita: This yoghurt-based side cools the palate, especially if your chutneys or uttapam are on the spicier side, made by mixing grated cucumber with yoghurt, cumin, and mint leaves.

Presentation Tips

The presentation of uttapam can make your meal even more inviting. Here’s how you can present these:

  • Serve the uttapam hot off the skillet onto the plate.
  • Arrange the chutneys and sambar around the uttapam in small bowls or on the plate itself, allowing for easy dipping.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves or a sprinkle of red chili flakes for an extra kick.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got the scoop on crafting the perfect uttapam it’s time to turn your kitchen into a flavor workshop. Remember the joy is in the journey—from soaking and fermenting to cooking and serving. Each step brings its own delight enhancing the final taste of your savory Indian pancake. So gather your ingredients roll up your sleeves and dive into the art of uttapam. Your taste buds—and your impressed guests—will thank you. Happy cooking!

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