Paddu, Gundu Pongal, Appam – There are many names to this breakfast favorite of south Indians. Like many other southern Indian breakfast items, this one too is made of rice and black lentil, making it a wholesome first meal of the day. What makes it special is the griddle in which it is processed giving it it’s unique texture and taste. Though it is a traditional breakfast item, it is not as widely known as some of the other dishes of this region such as Dosa and Idli. That said, it was surprising for me to see there are several other countries that use same type of griddle & similar process to make pancakes, find out more here: Planet Pancakes. Paddu is a variety of this type of pancake popular in southern Indian state of Karnataka.
Uncooked White Rice – 2 cups
Uncooked black lentil – 1 cup
Split chick peas (channa Dal) – 2 teaspoons
Onion – 1 Large
Fresh coconut slices (or grated coconut) – 1/4 of a cupt
Cilantro – chopped 1/2 cup
Green Chili (optional) – 2
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking – 4-5 teaspoons (as per your liking!)
The process of making Paddu is time consuming no doubt, but, patience has it’s own reward so don’t give up. The first step is to wash rice & lentil a few times and soak it in plain water for 4-5 hours. Blend the soaked grains in a blender to grainy consistency, one thing to note here is, soaked black lentil has a sticky consistency & hence requires good blender to blend them well.
The ground rice & lentil mixture should now be kept for fermentation in a warm place overnight. This is a very typical process followed for most of the common breakfast items in southern India. The yeast formed in the dough due to this fermentation gives a slight sour taste, brings out a nice fluffy texture to it & also makes for a healthy wholesome breakfast.
However, if you don’t have time to wait for this long, you can expedite the process by using some dry active yeast. In half a cup of warm water add half a spoon of sugar, one spoon of active dry yeast and dissolve it & keep it for few mins till froth comes out. Add it to the dough & keep it aside for an hour before using, this brings the same texture to the dough and almost the same taste, but, nothing like the naturally fermented dough!
Once, the dough is fermented add chopped onion, cilantro, coconut slices, chopped green chili. Also, add handful of channa dal that has been soaked for about 15-20 mins, add salt and mix the dough well.
Now comes the time to fry the dough, this type of frying is neither deep frying nor shallow, the indentation in the griddle used gives sufficient space to add oil that can be considered shallow frying, but, one can also customize it to use less oil to keep it healthy, either ways, you will have crispy Paddus.
Place the Paddu pan on medium flame, add couple drop of oil inside each indentation and smear it with a brush to coat the inside. If you use more oil, it gives the Paddu closer to deep fried texture and of course makes it greasy! Less oil may at times it harder to flip them, but, with practice and well seasoned pan, it gets easier.
When you can feel the heat of the pan by placing the hand a few inches above, it is ready for the dough. Using a teaspoon, scoop out dough and pour it inside each hole. A well heated pan will make the sizzling noise. Adjust the consistency of the dough as needed, ideal dough is that of cake batter consistency. Now, you can add a droplet of oil on top of each of Paddu if you like. Keep the pan covered with a lid for 2 mins and let it cook. Once you see the sides slightly brown, take a spoon and run it along the edges slowly making into the bottom of the pan. Once the dough comes out, slowly flip it you should see crispy brown exterior.
Let the Paddu cook for another couple mins or more if you like it crispier. Once both sides are crispy and golden brown remove them from the pan. A well cooked Paddu will have crispy exterior and if yo break it open, you should see a fluffy interior. If it is not cooked well, you will see some raw batter at the center, if you do, you might want to place entire batch for couple more mins of cooking.
Enjoy hot Paddu with some cilantro chutney!
As is the case in many Indian dishes, there are several varieties of Paddus that are made, savory, sweet versions and many regional flavors specific to other south Indian states.
About the Pan:
Paddu pans are typically made out of cast iron and available in different sizes. Cast iron pans need to be well seasoned and requires more practice to work. Modern day pans come with non-stick coating and in much compact sizes. Mostly you can buy Paddu pans in any home store but, I have never seen one in Indian stores in US. But, it turns out south Indians are not the only ones who discovered this way of pancake making! As I shared in my article, Planet Pancakes, Danish delicacy Aebleskivers are prepared in similar pans. Aebleskiver pans are widely available online, in several super markets and home stores & can be used for making Paddu.
To try Thai version of the pan cake in the same griddle see Khanom Krok recipe.