March 20, 2009


Not only are oothapams fun to say, but they are a wonderful treat from Southern India. They are sometimes referred to as Indian pizza or pancakes. In my research, I found there are many varieties. Some have a wheat-based batter, and the vegetable toppings can be as varied as they are in American pizza toppings.

For this version, though, I have stuck with the traditional gluten-free batter made with rice and urad dal. Urad dal is also called black gram or black matpe beans. Ironically, these beans are white, as the black skin is typically removed. These things have an awful smell when soaking. The smell does not transfer over to its taste so much, so don't let it fool you.

You can get urad dal in any Indian grocery, or you can get it through Amazon: Spicy World Urad Dal (Split Matpe or Beluga Beans)Washed 2 Pounds

This recipe requires some planning, as the rice and urad dal needs to be soaked over night, then the batter should ferment all day long. I wonder whether this fermentation period is really necessary, but I will present the traditional method here.

Flipping these pancakes requires some delicate skill. The dough is rather fragile and tends to stick to the pan. You need to use enough oil and flip with some dexterity. I botched numerous oothapams before I got one that was photo-worthy. They all taste the same anyway.



1½ c white basmati rice, rinsed and drained
½ c urad dal, rinsed and drained
1 t salt
¼ c plain yogurt
¼ t baking soda
1 c fresh or frozen peas
1 small red onion, minced
2 jalapeƱos, stemmed, seeded and minced
½ c cilantro or parsley


1. Mix rice and urad dal in a large glass or metal bowl. Cover with water and add 3 additional inches. Let this soak overnight.

2. The next morning, drain and transfer to a food processor. Add the salt and 1 cup of water. Blend until a thin, smooth batter is formed. Transfer this back to the bowl and place a towel over it. Let it sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

3. Stir in yogurt, baking soda, and ½ cup water.

4. Combine the peas, onion, jalapeƱos , and cilantro in a separate bowl.

5. Grease a small non-stick frying pan with oil. Heat pan to medium-high heat. Pour ½ cup of batter onto the pan. Drizzle some more oil along the edges to keep it from sticking.

6. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of the topping onto the pancake. Cook 3 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Carefully flip it over and cook an additional 1 minute.

7. Carefully remove pancake to a baking sheet and keep in a warm oven until all are done. Repeat process for remaining batter. Serve warm.

Makes 8 pancakes.

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