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Horse gram pancake from Tamil Nadu (Kollukai oothapam)

Oothapams or uttapams are traditional South Indian pancakes. Unlike their cousin, the dosa, which is crisp and thin, oothapams are thicker, and the perfect oothapam must have a crisp bottom. Unlike a typical dosa, which is crisp and crepe-like, an oothapam is thicker, with toppings. The name is derived from the Tamil words appam and utthia or uttria, meaning "poured appam", because appam is cooked in a round-bottom pan, whereas utthia-appam is cooked on a flat skillet. Another difference is tat an oothapam is usually topped with several varied ingredients from onions, tomatoes, cilantro, green chillies and other vegetables.

Oothapams are thought to have arisen from the need to finish old dosa batter; hence, the pancakes were poured ticker.

This is a lovely hearty oothapam. The horse gram makes the oothapam filling, and the flavour is earthy and delicious. I served these with Fenugreek chutney, Kerala ripe mango curry and Mangalorean tomato chutney. The combination was wonderful and a full meat of diverse flavours.

This cookbook on South Indian dosa is a very specialized cookbook from one of my favourite chefs. Every recipe is authentic, and this book is written with a depth of knowledge and understanding of the different cuisines in South India. This pancake recipe, like the other dosas and adai recipes from this cookbook, makes this cookbook essential for those who enjoy this type of dish.

For more recipes from the fabulous cookbook, click here.


1/2 cup whole horse gram (kulith dal)

1 cup small-grain rice

1/4 cup black gram lentils (urad dal)

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

6 + 1 cup water

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced


For the temper:

2 tablespoon2 oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3-4 green chillies, minced

15 curry leaves, sliced

Soak the horse gram, rice, black gram and fenugreek seeds in water for 3 hours or overnight. Drain well, rinsing out the mix at least three times.

Add the rice mix with the remaining water to a blender and blitz to a very smooth paste. This will take a few minutes as the lentils are still quite hard to break down. Add just enough water to make a very thick, smooth batter.

Pour into a container and mix in the salt and cilantro leaves. Allow the batter to ferment at room temperature for 6-8 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. The batter will be frothy, have risen a bit, and smell very aromatic from the fermentation. The aroma should be pleasant.

Heat the oil in a small pot and add the mustard seeds. They will splutter in 10 seconds. Add the cumin and give a quick stir. Add the green chillies and cook for 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves and stir well. Pour the temper into the batter and mix in well.

Heat a non-stick frying pan or a dosa pan. When very hot, a drop of batter must sizzle on the pan and set immediately, pour 1/4 cup and smooth out a bit. You are looking for a thick pancake. Cook for about 1 minute till the top side forms a layer of hollow bubbles. this is called a "jhali". It means the batter is cooked through and the bubbles are formed from the gases that escape from the fermentation process.

Flip and cook for another minute to brown the second side. Serve immediately while the oothapam is soft inside and crisp on the outside.

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