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Oothapam or Indian pancakes

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

An oothapam (or uttapam) is a savoury pancake from Tamil Nadu in India. Unlike its cousin, the amazing dosa, it is thicker and usually topped with a number of ingredients. Oothapams are almost always fermented giving them a slight sour taste. A really good oothapam is crisp on the outside and soft in the center, these take some practice to make and depend on the consistency of your batter and the temperature of your stove.

Making an oothapam is not hard, unlike that of a dosa. Essentially, you ladle the batter onto the heated pan and allow the batter to spread out. Allow to fry for a minute or two and flip. However, the trick is to get the perfect thickness, controlled by the consistency of the batter so they are fluffy and soft.

I top the oothapams with any of the toppings, listed below, in any combination. It is fun to have a party and custom make the oothapams to the diners requests. I serve these with Sambhar and coconut chutney.

This is a fabulous cookbook filled with recipes for dosais, oothapams and adais. Serve these with this wonderful recipe for Sambhar.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


1/2 cup pigeon peas (tuvar dal)

2 teaspoons fenugreek (methi) seeds

1 1/4 cups rice

Salt to taste


Toppings: your choice of

Onions, finely diced

Scallions, finely diced

Fresh cilantro, minced

Tomatoes, finely diced and drained of liquid

Green chilies, Finely diced

Cabbage, finely shredded

Gunpowder podi

Nalla karam, or chilli-garlic powder

Peanut karam

Others of choice

Rinse and soak the pigeon peas, fenugreek seeds and rice in 5 volumes of water for 6 hours, or overnight. Drain the grains and puree them in minimal water to get a smooth and thick batter. The batter should have the consistency of heavy cream, but thicker.

Allow the batter to sit on your tabletop for 10-20 hours till it ferments. You know when it is ready from the slightly sour smell and the many tiny bubbles in the batter.

To make the oothapams, heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. You know that it is hot enough when a drop of water will sizzle and almost immediately evaporate. Add a ladle of the batter to the pan and allow it to naturally form a pancake. Top with any combination of toppings while the batter is still wet, so they embed into the batter. Cook for about 2 minutes, you will start to see small holes appear in the pancake and the top will cook through. Flip and add a touch of oil or ghee. Cook for 1 more minute.

Serve immediately wil Sambhar and chutneys of your choice.

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