Savory lentil and rice pancakes – oothappams

DSC_0329Also oothapams, uthappams, uthapams, uttappa, or a dozen other spellings…

  • Daughter of the bread-like idli, and half-sister to a dosa, which is more crepe-like.
  • Gluten free – not important to me, but about half of the world is demanding this.
  • Vegan – ibid
  • Naturally fermented – not exactly sure how this happens, but it’s cool!
  • Versatile – you can make idli, dosas, and oothappams all from the same batter.

WARNING: This is not a spur-of-the-moment recipe. You don’t just whip up some oothappams in 30 minutes.

DSC_0331So Mike was organizing the pantry a couple of weeks ago.

Mike: Do you know you have two unopened bags of something called urad gota? What is this stuff? A grain, or a legume?
Me: I think it’s white lentils.
Mike: It doesn’t look like lentils.
Me: See here, it says matpe beans?
Mike: OK, whatever. Are you going to do anything with them, or should I feed them to the chickens?

Well thank Tim Berners-Lee for the Internet, you can find anything if you can read, are persistent, and have one or two keywords to search. (Does anyone really use an analog cookbook anymore?) White lentils – which are actually black lentils with the outer layer removed – can be cooked like regular lentils, but they are often used to make bread type foods. Probably because they are white and look more appetizing? IDK, just a hypothesis.

Here are the recipes I referenced (I never follow a recipe exactly):

Yesterday morning I soaked 1 cup of urad gota/matpe bean/white lentils, and 2 cups of white rice separately in water. I didn’t have basmati rice, so I just used a combination of short-grained and jasmine rice. (You may notice that I used a 1:2 ratio of lentils to rice, and most other recipes call for a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio.) Then last night I ground them up in my blender to a smooth batter, mixed them together, added 1 tsp salt, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and left it on the counter. (This morning I -oops!- quickly put the bowl into a much larger bowl because the fermentation had the batter about to overflow.)

For lunch today I minced some green chili, green onion, garlic, and shredded a carrot. Mixed these with some of the batter (which was too thick and fluffy, so I watered it down a bit), and fried little pancakes in a non-stick skillet with a tsp of oil. I used my little bitty egg pan, so they were really easy to flip over, and came out perfectly round. I ate them with some tomato jam mixed with cranberry chutney.

My Garden and other stuff

This spring was busy – my day job, teaching adjunct at UCO, developing material for a grant, a new granddaughter in Nashville, and Matt & Erin’s wedding shindig in Georgia. And through it all, of course, keeping up with the garden.

We had an abnormally cold winter here, which was good for reducing the insects that overwinter, but not so good for our fig trees. The little one died back to the ground. The large one is coming back strong from the base, and strangely enough, about 10′ up on several branches. So far the early summer has been mild – even chilly some mornings – which is giving the tomatoes, peppers, green beans, and cucumbers some time to get established before the heat kicks in. We will start eating our earliest peaches this week, and once again it seems that we have almost no insect damage. I have to think it’s because we feed and water the birds (mostly sparrows and wrens) all winter.

Every year the garden changes – something doesn’t do well while another plant flourishes. In my flower beds this will be the year of verbena bonariensi and threadleaf coreopsis. These newcomers reseeded like crazy, and I’m not complaining. The gaura in the front reseeded, and somehow found its way into the backyard. Of course the corn poppies and larkspur have already finished their glorious explosion, and I’ve been pulling the orange cosmos out by the handfuls to give away (they are deceptively sturdy).

On the food front, I’ve been cooking with gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), making not-quite-authentic “Korean inspired” stews. I really want to make jajangmyeon, but I’ll have to visit a Korean market in Moore to find the right kind of black bean paste.


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