Adai is a healthy, protein-rich and nutrient dense lentil crepe from Tamil Nadu cuisine. These are made with spices, rice and various kinds of lentils like Toor dal, chana dal and urad dal. Adai is super flavorful, delicious and makes for a great breakfast or meal anytime of the day. It is served with a chutney or avial, a mixed vegetable dish. Making adai is quicker and easier than making dosa because adai batter does not need fermentation.
Indian crepes known as dosas are a very popular food from the South Indian cuisine. We make many kinds of dosas using lentils, rice, grains and even with flour. Adai is one such variation and is similar to the Andhra Pesarattu which is made with green moong dal and spices.
Whether you are looking for healthy meal option or trying to include more protein in your diet, these are simply great for you! You will love these adai for everything – for the flavour, texture and for the fact they are nourishing.
About Adai Recipe
My adai recipe needs rice, chana dal, toor dal, a small portion of urad dal and moong dal. Rice is used to give the adai dosa a slightly crisp texture and various lentils impart different flavours.
Ginger, red chilies, hing and cumin seeds are the spices used for extra flavour and heat. These spices are very essential and without these your adai will be just bland.
Every Tamil speaking household may have a different recipe with varying proportions of rice & lentils. The proportions I have used go well with my family.
However you can substitute one lentil for the other without affecting the texture but the flavour changes. For more details on substitutions check my pro tips section below.
This family favorite adai recipe uses very little urad dal and we personally prefer a small portion of moong lentils which actually improves the flavour profile.
Adai dosa is usually made slightly thicker than the thin dosas.
Process of making adai batter
All the lentils, rice and chilies are soaked for 4 hours and ground to a slightly thick coarse batter. The batter is ready to use instantly. However it can be rested for 2 to 4 hours to enhance the flavors.
I usually soak, blend, rest and then keep the batter in the fridge the previous night to prepare the next morning’s breakfast. Sometimes I also soak them the previous night (for 8 hours), blend them in the morning & use the batter directly without resting.
How to make adai (stepwise photos)
Soaking lentils & rice
1. Firstly add ¾ cup rice to a large bowl and wash at least 3 times. Add fresh water and soak for at least 3 to 4 hours.
2. Remove the stalks of 4 to 5 red chilies & add them to the rice.
3. Next add all the lentils to another bowl. ¼ cup chana dal, ¼ cup toor dal, 2 tbsps urad dal and 2 tbsps moong dal Wash them well and soak in enough water for at least 3 to 4 hours.
4. Drain water and add rice, red chilies, ¾ to 1 ginger (peeled) and ¾ to 1 teaspoon cumin seeds to a blender jar. Also pour ¼ cup water to make a thick and slightly coarse batter.
5. Make sure all the rice grains are crushed. If your blender jar is not big enough transfer the batter to a large bowl.
6. Drain water from the dal and add it to the blender jar. Then pour little water enough to make a batter. Start with ¼ cup water and add more as required to make a thick batter.
7. Blend to a slightly coarse & thick batter.
8. Transfer adai batter to the batter bowl. Mix well if you have kept the rice batter aside. Cover and rest for 2 to 4 hours. You can also make the adai right away. I feel resting the batter brings a good aroma and taste.
9. When you are ready to make the adai, add 2 tbsps chopped coriander leaves, 1/8 tsp hing, 1 small onion fine chopped and salt. Do not add lot of onions it becomes difficult to spread the adai batter.
10. Mix everything well. You can add water to bring the batter to consistency. To make crisp and thin adai dosa, the consistency must be slightly thin but not very runny. To make thick once you can keep the batter slightly thick.
But traditionally adai is made slightly thick. However it is a personal choice.
How to make adai dosa
11. Grease a pan with little oil and heat it. The pan must be just hot enough and not very hot otherwise it is difficult to spread the batter.
If you are not using a non stick pan, then grease the tawa well and rub it with a cut onion. This prevents the adai from sticking to the pan. Pour the batter in the center of the pan.
12. Spread the batter quickly to a dosa, thick or thin to suit your liking. Add ghee or oil as desired. When it is cooked, the edges loosen from the pan.
13. Turn it and cook on the other side. Turn again and cook till the adai turns crisp.
Adai is best served hot with chutney. I have served them with this garlic chutney. But coconut chutney or onion chutney makes a great side. You can refrigerate the left over adai batter and use up in the next 2 days.
- Reducing rice will give softer adai. The quantity of rice mentioned in the recipe gives you slightly crisp adai.
- You can substitute toor dal and chana dal one for the other. Substituting toor dal with chana dal makes delicious and super flavorful adai but doing it the other way won’t give you the best flavour.
- Using more urad dal in the recipe gives you a raw flavour of urad dal in the adai because we don’t ferment the batter. You may skip the urad dal or substitute it with any other lentils.
- You can use only masoor dal (red lentils) to substitute all the lentils in the recipe. It turns out delicious but it won’t taste the same as traditional adai.
- The batter can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days. Bring it to room temperature before using it. If required add little water as the batter turns thick upon resting.
- For best results bring cold refrigerated batter to room temperature before making adai. Trying to cook cold batter often discolors/ browns the adai without cooking it well.
- If you want crisp adai, add some rice flour to the refrigerated batter.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ¾ cup rice (idly rice or short grain parboiled rice like sona masuri or ponni)
- ¼ cup chana dal (split skinned bengal gram)
- ¼ cup toor dal (split skinned pigeon peas)
- 2 tablespoons moong dal (split skinned green gram)
- 2 tablespoons urad dal (split skinned black gram)
- ¾ to 1 inch ginger
- 4 to 5 red chilies (l use less spicy variety, adjust to taste)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ⅛ teaspoon Hing (asafoetida)
- ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- Water as required to make batter
- 2 tablespoons Oil or ghee as needed
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves finely chopped
- Add all the lentils – chana, toor, urad and moong dal to a large bowl. Wash them very well a few times.
- Next add red chilies to the rice. Pour enough water and soak them for 2 to 4 hours. You can also leave them overnight for 8 hours.
- Add rice to another large bowl and rinse a few times. You can soak it for 2 to 4 hours to overnight.
Making adai batter
- When you are ready to grind the batter, drain the water and rinse them well.
- Add rice and red chilies to a blender jar along with ¼ cup fresh water. Blend to a slightly coarse paste or thick batter, adding more water as required. Batter has to be thick. Transfer this to a bowl.
- Add dal, cumin and ginger to the jar. Also ¼ cup water and blend to a slightly coarse thick batter, adding more water if required.
- Mix this with the rice batter. The batter has to be thick yet of spreading consistency. Allow to rest for 2 to 4 hours. You can also skip resting.
How to make adai
- Heat a pan. Add few drops of oil and smear it all over the pan with a kitchen tissue. Heat the pan well on a medium heat.
- While the pan heats, add chopped onions, salt, hing, coriander leaves to the batter. Mix everything well. Taste test and adjust salt.
- If you prefer to make thick adai, the consistency of the batter must be thick but of spreading consistency.
- If you prefer thin adai, then add more water as needed. Mix well to bring the consistency to a slightly less thick batter, not runny. The batter must be easily spreadable on the pan.
- Regulate the flame to medium. Make sure the pan is hot.
- Pour one ladle of batter and spread it quickly like a dosa. Spread it to thick or thin adai as per your liking.
- Add ½ tsp oil or ghee across the edges. Cook on a medium heat.
- When it gets cooked on one side, the edges loosen from the pan slightly. Turn it and cook on the other side as well. Make sure it is cooked on both the sides until crisp.
- To make the next adai be sure to heat the pan well. It should be hot but not smoking hot.
- Serve adai dosa with coconut chutney or any other chutney.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Adai recipe first published in September 2017. Updated and republished in July 2021.