Kale Adai | Lentil Pancakes

A sensuous and textured breakfast food, adai is the south indian’s pancake. However unlike regular pancakes its made from scratch completely and needs no rising agent. No white flour nor eggs in this nutritous gluten-free pancake either. Just healthful lentils and rice. The main trick in adai is not in the making of the batter, but in the spreading of it. Yes, my dear reader, we’re going there with our hand, to sculpt batter with hand on griddle. Hand becomes ladle. How cool were our ancestors in the absence of a gazillion gadgets!

sea salt to taste

1 cup yellow split peas(also called channa dal)
1 cup short grain rice
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped kale
Spice Mix
1 dry red chilli(I used 2)
4 curry leaves
2 tbsp dry coconut
2 tbsp curry leaves
1/2 tsp cilantro seeds(optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper pods(optional)
Serves 4

Pots n pans
Food processor
sesame oil to taste


  1. Wash yellow split peas and rice thoroughly. Then soak in hot water about 1 hour. Rinse and now its ready to grind
  2. Grind rice, lentils and spices in food processor with some water till batter is coarse & somewhat grainy.
  3. Here are my raw ingredients in the food processor just before grinding
  4. Heat griddle.
  5. While griddle heats up, chop onions and kale and add to batter.
  6. Drizzle ½ tsp oil on griddle.Pour ½ the batter onto the griddle.
  7. Are you ready for hand work? Dip your hand in cold water to prevent batter from sticking to your hands and making a mess. Smear batter onto the griddle. Here’s where you become the artist and choose how thick or thin you want your adai to be. I personally like it medium thick and evenly spread out.(SOS don’t feel that brave to tackle a skillet dough with bare hands, no problem. alternatively use a spatula as Seema recommended in the comments)
  8. Drizzle ½ tsp oil around the outer edges of adai. Cover with lid and let cook a few minutes.
  9. Flip adai on griddle, bottom side should have roasted nicely like my top pix. Allow to cook on other side.
  10. Remove from stove. SOS if you like a crunchier, meatier adai, increase the ratio of yellow split peas to rice, alternatively if you like your pancakes soft, increase the ratio of rice to split peas.

Health benefits
My dad suffered from diabetes for a long time. There were very few foods he could enjoy and relish. This is one of them. As I researched for this tasty post, I understood why. Lentils, which make up a major portion of this dish, are good for everybody, not just for people with diabetes. Rich in complex carbohydrates and protein, and high in dietary fiber-they are digested slowly resulting in a steady and gradual rise in blood sugar levels (low glycemic index). This keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Lentils are also a rich natural source of B vitamins and minerals. It also has cholesterol-lowering properties that helps reduce the risk of heart disease in diabetics.

Fun facts
At first blush, Its possible you might feel this recipe feels vaguely familiar. And you just might be reminded of my last post on Indian pizza since the pix seem kind of similar. But the similarity ends there as you would have already found out how this batter is completely made from scratch unlike the other that used pre-existing cream of wheat flour!

Suggested Pairing
Enjoy served with a dollop of unsalted butter and madras coffee. Remember this is the basic adai, feel free to add other vegs like cabbage to the batter for a veggie fill.This was my sunday breakfast, I’d love to hear how your adai turned out..


6 Comments Add yours

  1. neetha says:

    Charu, for those who dont like too much of chana dal, you can suggest toor dal or sambar parupu and chana dal mixed equally. I do that. i also add a hefty chunk of ginger to the food processor to counter the possible gassy side effects of so much of lentils! 🙂

    1. soulofspice says:

      great ginger tip Neetha, I use ginger and hing sometimes to help digest easily. I was going to suggest toor dal, but couldn’t find the english name..

      1. neetha says:

        charu i think its referred to as yellow pigeon peas.

  2. Seema says:

    I love adai.. I also add some fenugreek seeds and hing. And a couple of other lentils to the mix. I just use a spatula to spread the batter and it comes out ok. A slight fermentation also adds to the kick.

    1. soulofspice says:

      awesome tip Seema on using a spatula, I updated my post with your suggestion. Isn’t it great to experiment with age-old recipes-I sometimes add kala channa or lobia if I’m out of yellow split peas depending on what’s in my pantry:). I’d love to hear your proportion of lentils for a crispy adai.

  3. Seema says:

    Equal quantities of toor, urad,chana daal and rice mix. Haven’t tried lobhia but I’m sure it will taste great. In fact, I think any combination of daal is bound to be very tasty.. just a slightly different taste. All good, though. I like the idea of adding ginger to the mix, as Neetha above suggested.

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