Sanna Polo, a superhealthy Indian-style pancake packed with lentils, brown rice and veggies is a complete meal in itself. And if that sounds incredible to you, skip over and read the recipe.
In Konkan along India’s west coast, where my dad’s family hails from, “polo” is local for dosa: a food most of you are no doubt familiar with. Dosas, which spring from South India, are typically made with lentils and rice, and some, like Adai, have veggies thrown in. A Sanna Polo, which in Konkani translates to a “small dosa,” usually has tuvar dal (split pigeon peas) and rice with cabbage as the honorary veggie of choice (although you can easily bump it with a leafy or even onions).
There are variations that set the basic Sanna Polo batter apart from a South Indian dosa batter. One is the use of tamarind which, although a common enough South Indian ingredient, isn’t often found in dosas. The other is the use of coconut, a fruit that grows abundantly along the fertile Konkan coast and finds its way into nearly every Konkani dish.
My Sanna Polo veers slightly away from tradition, because I use in it a combination of dals: chana dal and tuvar dal. I also make it with brown rice to make it healthier. And although I usually almost always make my dosas crepe-thin, I rather like to make a Sanna Polo thick, as is traditional, because the outside gets really crispy and tastes great with a slightly softer center.
A reader, Raghavi, recently wrote to say that these days, when she sees a new recipe on Holy Cow!, the first question that springs to her mind is, did Jay like it? My favorite part of the post, she wrote, is Jay’s verdict.
So for Raghavi, yes, Jay absolutely did like it, and he even polished off a couple for dinner, which is quite a feat for him.
Here’s the recipe, all. Enjoy!
Savory Indian Pancakes with Lentils, Brown Rice and Cabbage | Sanna Polo
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1/2 cup chana dal or bengal gram dal
- 1/2 cup tuvar dal or split pigeon peas
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1 tsp tamarind paste (if using tamarind pods soak a 1/2-inch ball in 1/2 cup of warm water for 20 minutes, then squeeze the solids with your hands to extract the pulp. Discard the solids.)
- 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (you can substitute with 1/2 cup coconut milk)
- 3 cups shredded cabbage
- Salt to taste
- Soak the rice and dals together for two hours. Drain.
- Place all the ingredients except cabbage in a blender. Add enough water to make a pancake-like batter and blitz until you have a slightly coarse but even batter. The slight coarseness will give you crispier pancakes.
- Remove the batter to a bowl and mix in the cabbage.
- Let the batter stand about 10 minutes, then mix well.
- On a heated griddle sprayed with some oil, spread about 1/3 cup of the batter into an approximately five-inch pancake.
- Cook until the top starts to dry and the underside is golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until golden spots appear.
- Serve hot with chutney. I love this with some tomato chutney.