Kavuni Arisi Adai (Black Rice Pancake)

For several years, I have been extolling the virtues of black rice (kavuni arisi in Thamizh). Known to be one of the healthiest grains on the planet, this rice has a nutty flavour and mouthfeel. It is ideal to make sweet or savoury dishes. I often make a kheer (payasam, sweet dessert) with this rice. It is very popular in the South East Asian countries where there are several mouth-watering recipes. It is also widely used in the North-Eastern parts of India. And, surprisingly, in the Chettinad region of Tamizhnadu. It is also called Forbidden Rice. Legend has it that the Chinese Emperor once had it and was fascinated. He immediately pronounced that only the Royal Family will be permitted to consume this rice. Hence the name.  It is my pleasure today to present a delicious Chettinad dish, Kavuni Arisi Adai. This tastes wonderful and very different from the normal adai.

1 cup black rice
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dhana, venthiyam)
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup Kashmiri black moth dal (optional)
1/2 cup Bengal gram (chana dal, kadalai parupu)
1/2 cup split black lentil (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
1/2 cup pigeon peas (tur dal, thuvaram parupu)
Salt to taste
2 dried red chillies
6-7 flakes of garlic
1″ piece of ginger, chopped fine
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 onion, chopped fine (optional)
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (optional)
Place black rice, brown rice, fenugreek seeds, Kashmiri dal, Bengal gram, split black lentil and pigeon peas in a vessel
Wash well and drain
Add fresh water to cover all the ingredients
Cover and soak 8-10 hours or overnight
Transfer to a blender (you may have to do it in batches), add red chillies, garlic and ginger
Grind to a coarse batter
Add salt and curry leaves to the batter
Mix well
The batter is ready and can be refrigerated
When ready to make the pancakes, add the onion and coriander leaves
Mix well
Heat a girdle on high flame
When the girdle is hot, reduce flame to medium
Place a ladle of the batter in the centre of the girdle
Using the back of the ladle, spread the batter outwards in a circular formation
When one side is golden brown, flip over and cook the other side
Repeat for the remaining batter
Serve immediately with any chutney of your choice (I served it with the classic coconut chutney)
Note: The proportions mentioned here will yield 28-30 pancakes, so you may want to make only as many as you require and refrigerate the remaining batter (will keep for about a week)

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