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Savory Quinoa Pancakes (Uttapam)


Who doesn’t like pancakes? There are quite a few different versions depending where in the world you live. I grew up eating thin French crepes, but only discovered thick pancakes when I came to the states. India has a different type of pancakes that are naturally gluten-free, vegan and protein-packed that make the best breakfast! Called Uttapam, these pancakes are more nutritious than regular flour pancakes because they are made with quinoa, rice and lentils or oats instead of just wheat flour. Naturally low fat and high in fiber, they are also much easier to digest because the batter has been fermented overnight. This process requires starting your batter the day before but it makes the fluffiest, thick pancakes.

Have you ever ordered a dosa at an Indian restaurant? It is the most amazing thing! Picture a large super thin crispy savory crepe usually filled with a small amount of perfectly seasoned potatoes. It is also made with a mix of fermented rice and black lentils. The idea of fermented batter may not sound particularly appetizing but it does make the best flat bread, crepes and pancakes. Another popular type of fermented bread is Injera. It is served in Ethiopian restaurants and made with fermented teff flour.

Why fermenting?

The process of fermentation breaks down hard to digest parts of grain, pulse and other foods. This is why it makes it easier to digest. You want to find a warm place to ferment the batter. You could turn the oven on to 300F, they turn it off and place the batter in the oven and let it rest overnight.



This is the fun part. There are so many options. You can go sweet or savory. I prefer salty so as an absolute minimum, some chopped green onions, maybe some fresh cilantro.  If I feel in an Indian mood, I add some curry powder to the batter. You can always sprinkle some vegan cheese too. I use this pancake as a replacement for bread. It goes great with some avocado slices, or tofu scramble. You get the idea!

No time to wait?

If you are in a hurry, you can make a quicker version that skips the fermentation phase. It uses 1/2 cup of oats, 1/4 cup rice flour, 2 tbsp vegan plain yogurt (like Forager) and just enough water to obtain a pourable batter. This recipe makes pancakes that are a little thinner than the fermented recipe but they are wonderful too!


I used tricolor quinoa (that’s all we had in the kitchen) so the pancakes came out a little darker. It gave them a wholesome look! Using white quinoa makes them white just like regular pancakes.
I really like Uttapam because one pancake will keep me going for hours. It is a great substitute for bread if you are trying to cut down white flour. This recipe will make up to 15 pancakes that can be frozen for later.



Savory Quinoa Pancakes (Uttapam)

These savory quinoa pancakes are naturally gluten-free, high protein and make the best breakfast of champions!
Prep Time 6 hours
Fermentation time 10 hours
Total Time 16 hours
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Indian
Servings 15 pancakes


  • Blender


Pancake batter

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cup quinoa (white or tricolor)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • chopped green onion
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric or curry (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro


Soak and ferment the batter

  • Rinse the quinoa, and rice several times until the water is clear.
  • Soak for 6 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the soaked rice and quinoa and, pour into a blender, add salt and 2 cups of water. Bend until smooth.
  • Pour into a bowl and cover with a clean towel. Place in a warm location and let it ferment for 8-12 hours.
  • Some bubbles may form on top when the fermentation has taken place. The batter should be thick but pourable. Add a little water if necessary.
  • Heat up a non-stick frying pan or a cast iron frying pan on medium heat, add a little oil.
  • Pour a ladle of batter and quickly swirl but don't try to flatten the pancake. You want it nice and thick.
  • Add the chopped green onions while it is cooking.  Flip it over when the bottom starts to come loose.
    quinoa uttapam
  • Repeat with the remaining batter. You should have enough for 12-15 pancakes if you keep them pancake size.
Keyword Gluten-free breakfast, high protein




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