South Indian Adai Served Tapa Style For Your Holiday Party

Holiday season means happiness to me. It is the time of the year when friends and family unite to exchange gifts. It will be perfect time to make people close to you feel special. In India, feeling of festivity begins from Navratri/ Gollu (Festival of 9 nights) and the next big one for us is Diwali – the festival of lights. It is an Indian festival equivalent to Christmas. Diwali is the time to eat all possible desserts in the world. We spend time in the kitchen prepating fresh Indian sweets and savory dishes. The entire town is lit up with lights and firework. Having moved to US, I have learned to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. So there is three more new celebration to our already long list of Indian festivals. Whether its Pongal or Diwali or Christmas, all one needs is a great to mood to cook and awesome family to enjoy them. I have got them both so what’s left is to get started with grocery shopping and plan a meal.

In the previous posts, I have been sharing recipes of the meals I had prepared for Feastly dinners. You can use that as a model to plan your next meal. It is your party and you can cook with what you are comfortable with. The first time I hosted a thanksgiving dinner, I didn’t have turkey on the menu. I was fine with it as I didn’t want to serve a half cooked turkey roast. Instead I served my signature South Indian style crab masala. Crab season begins in San Francisco around Thanksgiving time and that’s a good reason for me to throw that into the menu. If you are happy to make your authentic cuisine, just go with it and add your tweaks to it. Today I am sharing tips on how to serve the popular Tamil Nadu tiffin item called Adai in tapa style.

Adai is made from rice-lentil batter. We use Bengal gram (Channa dahl), yellow split peas (Tuvar dahl) and rice in this preparation. I have replaced white rice with brown rice on some days. Even wild rice or Jasmine rice can also be used. Adai dosa is typically served with aviyal (assorted vegetables cooked with coconut and other spices) or butter, jaggery or a chutney or simple spice podi called idli podi.

If you want to host a South Indian styled Christmas Party, you can include the following dishes and spruce up the dining table with fun serving dishes:

  1. Orange Punch (recipe here plus post on How to plan Navratri party)
  2. Plums rasam shots (recipe here)
  3. Sweet Plantain Appetizer (recipe here)
  4. Adai disks served with tomato chutney and cold butter curls (recipe below)
  5. Semolina upma
  6. Mango Crème Brulee (recipe here)

Adai Disks_1

South Indian Adai Disks Served with Tomato Chutney, Jaggery Dust and Cold Butter Curls


Makes 30 small adais
Source: Self
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas/ toor dhal
  • 1/2 cup Bengal gram / channa dhal
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 inch ginger – skin peeled
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • Salt to taste, about 1-2 teaspoon

 For the tempering

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onions – finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon asafeotida
  • 10-12 curry leaves – finely chopped
  • 10 Black pepper balls – whole/crushed
Water to soak and grind
1/4 cup oil to make the  adais
  • Non-stick tava or saucepan (I used this)
  • Wooden spatula
  • Food processor or mixie-grinder

Cooking Directions

  1. Soak the brown rice and lentils in a separate bowl with excess water  for 4-5 hours. Also soak the dry red chillies in any one of the bowl. Set them aside. Once done, drain the water completely and grind them with ginger and garlic to a batter. Use minimum water. The batter will be thicker than pancake or dosa batter.
  2. Heat oil in a small pan and add asafoetida, curry leaves, onions , black pepper balls and salt. Add them to the batter and mix well.
  3. Heat the pan or tawa over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Spray with cooking spray. Pour a ladle full of the thick batter in the center of the pan and spread in circular fashion with the back of the spoon to form a circle. Drizzle little oil  around the edges and let it cook for 8 minutes and flip it over for another few minutes, about 5 minutes. They should be brown and crispy. Always cook them in medium flame to avoid burning.

Tips: The first one will always take longer time to cook, hence be patient when you have the first one getting cooked.



  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon roasted almonds
  • 2 plump red tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt to taste


  • Food processor or Mixie/Grinder

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Once hot, add garlic and green chilies. Sauté for a minute. Add tomatoes and let it cook covered for 8-10 minutes on low flame. Switch off the heat. Let it cool. Grind to a smooth paste with almonds. Add salt to taste.

Tips to plate:

  1. Keep a bowl of jaggery dust (grated jaggery), leave the butter in the fridge until ready to plate. I used a cheese grater to get the curls.
  2. In a large communal plate, neatly arrange the cooked adai (cooled room temperature as butter shouldn’t melt when places on top). Smear little tomato chutney on top, single cilantro leaf , sprinkle jaggery and finally add butter curls.

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  1. Oh, I am having so much fun exploring your recipes! There are so many spices and flavor combinations that I’m unfamiliar with. Loving this journey.

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