Ivory Lentil Pancakes Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Ivory Lentil Pancakes

Known as oothapams, these light, savory pancakes are served in place of bread in South India. They require a little planning, because the rice and lentils need to be soaked overnight, and the batter needs at least six hours to ferment. Urad dal, or ivory lentils, can be found in Indian markets and natural food stores.



Ingredient Line: 
1 ½ cups white basmati rice or long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
Ingredient Line: 
½ cup urad dal (ivory lentils) or red lentils, rinsed and drained
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1 tsp. salt
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¼ cup plain low-fat yogurt
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¼ tsp. baking soda
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1 cup fresh or frozen peas
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1small red onion, minced (1 cup)
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3 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
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½ cup chopped cilantro


1. Combine rice and urad dal in large glass or stainless steel bowl. Cover with 3 inches of water, and soak overnight. Drain. Transfer to blender or food processor, and purée with salt and 1 cup water until smooth. Transfer to bowl, cover with towel, and let stand six to 12 hours at room temperature, or until batter is fermented and slightly bubbly on surface. Stir in yogurt, baking soda, and 1/2 cup water.

2. Preheat oven to 200°F. Place baking sheet on center rack. Combine peas, red onion, chiles, and cilantro in bowl.

3. Lightly grease medium nonstick skillet with coconut oil or ghee. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Pour 1/2 cup batter onto skillet. (Do not spread batter out thinly.) Drizzle 1/2 tsp. oil or ghee around edge of pancake to prevent it from sticking.

4. Sprinkle 3 Tbs. pea mixture over pancake. Cook 3 minutes, or until bottom is golden. Flip carefully, and cook other side 1 minute more, or until golden. Place pancake on baking sheet vegetable-side up, and keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining lentil and pea mixture until you have 8 pancakes. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information: 

6 g
Total Fat: 
5 g
Saturated Fat: 
4 g
46 g
1 mg
341 mg
3 g
2 g
Makes 8 pancakes

Comments on this Recipe

the traditional uttapam does not use yogurt or baking soda. The fermentation process makes the batter fluffy.

I had this for the first time this weekend, and it is my new favorite! Delish!

FYI: I cooked this on my griddle and it turned out really well. I didn't use the oil to cook it. I'm not sure if I lost out on a sweet taste without the oil or not. I would combine this with something sweet, like a piece of fruit on the side.

This was delicious!!! I loved them along with the Mixed Vegetable Kootu that appeared in the same article. Added to my favorites immediately and I can't wait to have these for lunch tomorrow.

I tried to make this dish, and the pancakes kept sticking to my griddle. It sounds delicious, but I couldn't get a pancake to come off the griddle in one piece. I had greased the griddle per the directions, too. Any suggestions?

Reg Cathys' comments dated Dec 17 2010,to prevent the pancake sticking the girdle,in the beginning after greasing the girdle rub the surface of the girdle with a piece of onion or potato and then pour the batter to make pancake in a medium heat

These pancakes are terrific! Although they take more than 30 minutes to make as you have to soak and ferment the grains, so it's a think ahead bread. There is no wheat products involved so it's Gluten-Free from the start. I tried the toppings as written and they were very good but my mind when to other toppings I could use. I think you could leave the toppings off and use the pancakes for sandwiches also. This recipe is in my staple box.

How much urad dal should be used? The recipe doesn't say. I'd really like to try this recipe, but don't want to spend the time or effort only to end up ruining the dish by using too much or too little.

Ivory Lentil Pancakes looks like a great recipe but they don't tell how much lentils to use. Help - I want to try this!

I found a similar recipe on foodnetwork.com to check for the lentil:rice ratio since the lentils aren't mentioned in the ingredients list. Their recipe called for 1:2 ratio, so the lentils are half the quantity of rice.

I am South Indian, cook this food everyday. I just started blogging some on my home-cooking at www.ramascorner.blogspot.com . I would suggest small changes to this recipe, to make it healthier and more authentic. My mother, grand mother and rest of the family included do not use baking soda (we use these for savory and sweet snacks alone!). And it is not necessary to use Yoghurt in the recipe. Ingredients: If using blender (US kind) - rice (sam's club rice 9.99 for 20lbs is good enough) 3 parts; ullutam paruppu (urad dal) - 1 part; Mendayam (Fenugreek) - 1 Tsp; Salt - 1 to 1 1/2 Tsp. This is the general Dosa (crisp South Indian crepe) recipe, used for uthappam as well. Soak rice and lentil separately for about 6-8 hours. Soak Fenugreek seeds aslo with the lentil. Rice will take a little careful attention when blending. But in general make a very smooth batter. Mix both rice and lentil batter together. Add salt. Mix well. Leave it to ferment overnight. Use this batter to make the Dosa on day 1 and 2. Batter keeps fermenting even if stored in the refrigerator. On Day 3, this batter is ready for Uthappam! For Vegetable Uthappam - Use mixed vegetables, carrots, onion, tomato, green chillies (serrano peppers), coriander leaves - chopped finely and well mixed. Heat a non-stick iron tava (skillet). Lightly grease skillet with gingely oil. Pour a ladel full of batter on the skillet and get a round shape (thick and round like pancake). Immediately add the vegetable mix to this. Pour oil around the pancake to cook. When pancake turns lightly brown at the bottom turn to other side. Take on a serving plate when done. Serve hot with coconut chutney and molaga podi (chilli and lentil powder made specially for Idli, Dosa and Uthappam).

u forgot to give measurement of urad dal


Hi All, Wondering what is making this batter ferment, it is the spores of the nitrogen fixing bacteria in the lentils that become vegetative under the warm indian weather that helps ferment the rice batter and also add a balance of protein and carbohydrate. This is a total gluten free dish and can be vegan if the nitrogen fixing bacteria is OK for my vegan friends. The rice to lentil ratio is 2:1 or 3:1, keeping the batter in a warm place is a must for atleast 6-8 hours, typically you need to do this overnight. Also make sure the batter is ground coarse to fine, best would be to grind the soaked lentils separately to a very fine paste while the soaked rice can be ground coarse. Keep the ground paste less watery, so that you can pour it on a griddle without making it run. There are good youtube video that show the art of making a dosa or idli (pancake)