Mapillai Samba Adai|Red Rice Adai

Mapillai Samba Adai refers to a high-protein recipe made using a heirloom variety of rice from Tamilnadu. Today, we are going to check out how to go about making this dish.

Delicious Mapillai Samba Adai, served with jaggery powder

What is adai?

Adai‘ refers to a sort of savoury pancake, a traditional breakfast dish from the state of Tamilnadu. Made using rice and mixed lentils, it is very nutritious.

Typically, we make adai using idli rice, with onions and/or moringa leaves (‘murunga keerai‘ in Tamil) added in. Here is how we make Murunga Keerai Adai at home.

Sometimes, we swap the rice in the adai for millets. Here is how we make Bajra Adai, made using pearl millet.

In the recipe I am about to share today, the idli rice has been swapped with a red rice variety called ‘Mapillai Samba‘.

A closer look at Mapillai Samba rice

Did you know that there is an Indian variety of rice that is literally called ‘Bridegroom Rice’? Yes, that’s Mapillai Samba rice for you.

Mapillai Samba is an indigenous red rice variety from Tamilnadu. This rice is believed to be highly nutritious, and has a number of health benefits. It is rich in iron, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin B6, and helps in improving strength and in warding off anaemia. The high fibre content in this rice strengthens the gut and keeps gastrointestinal issues at bay. It also helps in keeping diabetes and cholesterol under control, improving immunity and slowing down the ageing process.

Mapillai Samba rice

Legend has it that mothers-in-law fed this rice to their sons-in-law (‘mapillai‘ in Tamil) to – erm! – improve their child-bearing capabilities. As per another legend, this rice was offered to young men who were required to lift heavy stones so as to prove their physical powers in order to be considered fit for marriage in the olden days’ societal structure. Now you get home this rice got its name?

Mapillai Samba is a tough variety of rice and needs a good amount of soaking for it to cook thoroughly. It is quite versatile, and can be consumed in many ways. This rice can be cooked and eaten with rasam or sambar, or can be stir-fried with coconut. It can be used in preparing tiffin items like idli, dosa and adai or used in kanji. This rice can be powdered and used to make snacks like murukku, puttu and idiyappam.

I haven’t seen Mapillai Samba rice commonly available in Bangalore, but it is easier to find in Chennai. I usually pick up my stock from the Pazhamudir Cholai in Nanganallur, one of my favourite foodie shopping destinations in Chennai that I wrote about here.

How to make Mapillai Samba Adai

Mapillai Samba Adai is an easy dish to prepare, and tastes absolutely delicious. If you are considering cutting down the amount of white rice in your diet, this recipe is something you should definitely check out.

Here is how to make Mapillai Samba Adai.

Ingredients (makes about 12):

1. 1/2 cup mappillai samba rice

2. 1/2 cup idli rice

3. 1/4 cup urad dal

4. 1/2 teaspoon methi seeds

5. 1/4 cup chana dal

6. 1/4 cup toor dal

7. 8-10 dry red chillies or as per taste

8. A 1-inch piece of ginger

9. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves

10. Salt to taste

11. Oil, as needed to make the adai


Top left: Step 4, Right top, centre and bottom: Step 5, Bottom left: Step 5 – that’s how the batter looks

1. Wash the mapillai samba and idli rice together under running water. Drain out the water, then add in enough fresh water to cover the rice completely. Soak for 8-10 hours or overnight.

2. Wash the urad dal thoroughly under running water, then drain. Add in the fenugreek seeds and enough fresh water to cover the dal completely. Soak for 8-10 hours or overnight.

3. Similarly, wash the toor dal and chana dal together, then drain out the water. Add enough fresh water to cover the dal fully. Soak for 8-10 hours or overnight.

4. When the soaking is done, drain out the water from all the ingredients and reserve it.

5. Take the soaked urad dal and fenugreek seeds as well as half of the soaked mapillai samba and idli rice in a large mixer jar. Peel the ginger, chop roughly, and add to the mixer jar. Add in the dry red chillies too, and a little of the reserved water. Grind to a smooth paste and transfer to a wide vessel.

Top left and centre: Step 6, Top right and bottom left: Steps 7 and 8, Bottom centre and right: Steps 9 and 10

6. Now, take the rest of the soaked mapillai samba and idli rice in the same mixer jar. Add in the soaked toor dal and chana dal. Add a little of the reserved water. Grind together to a coarse batter. Add this to the batter we ground earlier.

7. Chop the curry leaves finely. Add to the batter.

8. Add salt to taste to the batter too. Mix well, using your hands. The batter can be used to make adai at this stage, but we prefer letting it sour a bit before using. For this, cover the batter and set it aside for a few hours for it to get lightly sour.

9. To make the adai, place a thick dosa pan on high flame and let it get nice and hot. Then, turn the flame down to medium. Take a ladle of the batter and place it in the centre of the pan. Spread it out using the back of the ladle and drizzle some oil all around the circle.

10. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till it gets done on the bottom and starts browning. Now, use a spatula to loosen the adai and flip over to the other side. Cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes or till done. The Mapillai Samba Adai is ready – transfer to a serving plate and serve hot, along with some jaggery or peanut-ginger chutney.

11. Prepare adai from the remaining batter in a similar manner. Serve hot.

Is this a gluten-free and vegan recipe?

Yes, totally! The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It is gluten-free as well.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used a mix of the very spicy Salem Gundu and the not-so-hot Bydagi dry red chillies here. You can use any variety you prefer. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.

2. Red rice can be used in place of the mapillai samba rice I have used here. The mapillai samba is available in several departmental stores across Tamilnadu.

3. For best results, the batter should be slightly coarse. The adai turns out tastier when the batter is not completely smooth.

4. If the batter is too thick, mix in a little water before making the adai.

5. Finely chopped onion, cabbage, spinach, fenugreek leaves or moringa leaves can be added to the adai batter. A few cloves of garlic can be added to the batter too. That is purely optional.

6. This batter does not need to be fermented. It can be used to make adai just after it is ground. However, we prefer to keep it aside for a few hours for the batter to get a little sour before use – the adai taste better that way.

7. If you are not planning on making the adai later, store the batter in the refrigerator after it sounds. Use as needed.

8. The batter is best used within 2-3 days of grinding.

9. Adai made using only mapillai samba rice does not turn out very well, hence we mix it with idli rice. Idli rice refers to a variety of rice with fat grains, typically used to make idlis. It is commonly available in several departmental stores across Bangalore. Check out my Thatte Idli post to see what idli rice looks like exactly.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!


8 thoughts on “Mapillai Samba Adai|Red Rice Adai

  1. Adai with mappilai samba rice sounds incredible. Love the colour of the adai. One of the most favourite dish at my place . Will source for this variety of red rice here.


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