These Uttapam-Inspired Pancakes Are Tangy, Savory, and Satisfying

What’s better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy you don’t need one. In It’s That SimpleWe talk you through the dishes that we make while our eyes are closed. Today, uttapam pancakes.

I love thick, fluffy stacks of bread. pancakesWith syrup dripping down their sides, uttapam pancakes are my favorite. Unlike traditional uttapam, a Tamilian and South Indian staple that has a batter of rice and lentils that’s often fermented for hours, these are made from store-bought pancake mix and buttermilk—my mom’s time-saving solution.

These were a staple of my family’s weekend breakfasts when I was growing up. I loved watching the ghee slip and slide in the hot pan as she’d ladle out the batter and add red onions, vibrantly green cilantro, tomatoes, and red or green chile as the pancake began to brown around the edges and little air bubbles emerged on the surface. It was a race to add as many toppings as possible before it was time for the pancake to be flipped. She’d hover patiently until the onions caramelized on the bottom, then deliver the pancakes directly from the stove to whoever’s plate was empty.

SyrupButter and peanut butter are also good options. sweet pancakesThese savory condiments are what podi (which literally means powder) and chutney mean to them. It’s all about the condiments for dipping. I’d mimic my dad by making a small mound of podi, made from ground dalHot chile, often called gunpowder, and then form a well to add gingelly (sesame oil) oil. He’d then mix the two together, like you would mix eggs into flour for pasta dough. We’d tear off a piece of pancake and dip it in the mixture for the perfect bite of onion, masala, and tomato.

Now, these pancakes are my go-to whenever I’m missing those days of sitting around our dining table with family but didn’t plan ahead enough to make the traditional fermented batter. And they’re always accompanied by a mound of podi and gingelly oil or zingy green chutney.

Here’s how to make uttapam-inspired pancakes:

Make Pancake mixYou can use Bisquick as a substitute for milk. However, you can use buttermilk to get the Bisquick’s distinctive tanginess. Add 1 tsp. 1 tsp. salt. Heat a nonstick skillet/griddle on medium heat. Add enough pastry powder using a pastry brush. gheeTo coat the entire surface of the pan, add the batter to the pan. You should have approximately 6″ pancakes. Add about 1 tsp. Each chopped red onion, Chile, cilantro, tomato. Flip the pan carefully once you see air bubbles form and the sides are golden brown. Allow onions to caramelize and brown, about 1–2 minutes, before taking it off the heat.

For me this isn’t complete without the condiments. My favorites are a Green, herby chutney(Or homemade mint, or store-bought). cilantro chutney() Gingelly oil and podi. It can be purchased at your local Indian grocery store or ordered online by companies like Podi Life—my favorite is their crunchy peanut variety. I spread the podi onto my plate and make a well with the sesame oil. Finally, I mix them together with my fingers. You can alternate between the chutney and the podi for a satisfying breakfast.  While these pancakes may not be dead ringers for traditional uttapam, on a groggy morning, they’re just close enough.

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