I’m fast becoming a fan of fermentation, friends. There’s something magical about mixing ingredients together and letting it independently bubble to life. I’m also a huge fan of eating whole grains, although it’s hard to find ways to easily slip some of them into everyday meals – the Ninja still won’t come around to brown rice, the fool! So when I ran across the concept of Uttapam on Cake Maker to the Stars – savoury pancakes made from fermented urad dal and rice – I was on board immediately. Especially these ones from Kathy Hester‘s The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot, which are made entirely from a blend of four whole grains & legumes. Holy gosh, my millet and mung beans* finally get to jump out of their jars and play?
*Mung beans when split are mung dal, not urad dal, but I used them and it worked and the sky did not crack and I’d do it again.
The process is simple – beans are soaked, then blended, then covered and fermented in a warm place. The batter keeps in the fridge for days, and you can make little pancakes whenever you want. My little Muffin-guy loves eating fresh crispy-sour Uttapam for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, or augggh-stop-tripping-over-your-own-feet-for-a-second-and-have-a-snack – uh, time). Traditionally in South India there are toppings cooked right into them like grated carrot, onions, tomatoes, chiles, herbs, or ginger, which makes them more beautiful, but I like them naked as well, just fried in a bit of coconut oil. Yum.
- 1 cup (151 g) urad dal (skinned split urad / black lentils)
- 1 cup (190 g) brown rice
- 1 cup (119 g) millet
- 1 cup (170 g) quinoa, rinsed well in a fine sieve to remove soapiness
- 5 cups (1200 g) cold water
- oil for frying
- salt (optional)
- toppings! such as:
- grated carrot
- onions (raw or caramelized)
- diced tomatoes
- chiles or sweet peppers
- herbs (cilantro, mint, dill)
- slivered ginger
In a large container or bowl, soften the grains and dal in the water for 8 hours, covered.
Put everything into a blender and puree to a thick, relatively smooth grain milkshake.
Pour the batter into a bowl, cover, and let it ferment in a warm place for at least 8 hours, but possibly up to 24 (I needed 20 hours in my winter apartment). It’s ready when the batter is foamy, increased in size and tastes nicely sour. At this point you can keep the uncooked batter in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.
Heat a nonstick or cast iron frying pan to medium heat, grease with oil (coconut is nice), and fry on both sides until crispy and browned. Serve warm with spicy, piquant chutneys.