These 3-ingredient savory red lentil pancakes are inspired by Indian dosas. They’ve vegan, gluten-free, high in protein, and can be served in any number of ways.
I love pancakes of all types (see: cornmeal pancakes, savory cabbage pancakes, chickpea crepes), and have a special place in my heart for Indian dosas. The thing with traditional dosas, though, is they require a handful of [atypical for my pantry] ingredients, hours of fermentation, and a special dosa pan.
When photographing my friend Vasudha’s book, The Vegetarian Reset, I got to try her streamlined version with no fermentation required. Her easy moong dal dosa batter is flavored with ginger and chili, giving the resulting pancakes a peppery, floral quality.
Since red lentils are easier for me to find than moong dal, I’ve adapted her technique to create these red lentil pancakes. With crisp lacy edges, soft chewy centers, and an earthy-floral flavor, they’re simple to make and quite versatile. You can fill them with any number of things (scroll on for suggestions) for an unusual take on dinner.
Key Ingredients + Substitutions
- Red Lentils: Super affordable (about $3/pound at my supermarket), quick cooking, and packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, and folate.
- Fresh Ginger: Gives red lentil pancakes a peppery, floral flavor. Do not substitute with dried.
- Jalapeño: If you also don’t enjoy heat, remove the ribs and seeds from this chili pepper. You’ll end up with pancakes that create more of a “zing” than a fire in your mouth, with a taste closer to green bell pepper.
How to Make Red Lentil Pancakes
Step 1: Soak the Lentils.
Place the lentils in a blender and cover with boiling water. Set aside to soak for about an hour to soften them.
Step 2: Make the Batter.
Drain the lentils in a mesh strainer and rinse well under running water. Drain well and return to the blender. Add ginger, jalapeno, salt, and pepper, as well as fresh water. Blend until completely smooth. The batter should be thicker and more soup-like than French crepe batter.
Step 3: Cook the Pancakes.
Cook the pancakes in a well-oiled non-stick skillet over moderate heat for about 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second. (The first pancake will likely stick to the pan and turn out weird – don’t get discouraged).
Tips for Cooking These Dosa-Inspired Pancakes
Cooking any kind of crepe/pancake can be tricky at first. Pancake success almost always depends on: stove heat level, pan type, and amount of oil used.
- Use a non-stick pan. Remember that non-stick surfaces usually last for only about a year. If your pan is older, it may be time for a replacement.
- Use moderate heat. If the pancakes are browning too quickly, turn the heat down. If they’re sticking to the pan and taking longer than 3 minutes on the first side, turn it up.
- Generously grease the pan. Brush the skillet with oil between each pancake to prevent sticking and encourage crisping. A silicone brush is best; if you don’t have one, use a folded-up paper towel.
- Be patient. Don’t hack away at and try to flip the pancake before it’s ready.
How to Serve Red Lentil Pancakes
Serve these right away – while still warm – since they stiffen when they get cold. If you wanna keep them fresh for a bit longer (like up to an hour), hold them in a 200ºF oven before serving. Fill these vegan gluten-free pancakes with sautéed mushrooms or zucchini, garlicky spinach, chana masala, and/or creamy tahini or tzatziki sauce. You can also use them as a sandwich wrap.
More Ways with Lentils
- Red Lentil Dal with Cauliflower
- Warm Lentil Salad
- Mujadara (Brown Rice and Lentils with Fried Onions)
- Moroccan Lentil Soup
Let me know if you try this recipe! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and tag your creation with @thenewbaguette on Instagram.Print
- 1 cup (175 grams) red lentils
- 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds discarded, and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- About 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Put the kettle on to bring about 3 cups of water to a boil.
- Place the lentils in a blender and add enough boiling water to cover by about 1 inch. Set aside for 1 hour* to soften the lentils.
- Drain the lentils in a mesh strainer and rinse well under running water. Transfer back to the blender.
- Add 1 cup (235 mL) fresh water, as well as the ginger, jalapeno, salt, and pepper. Puree until completely smooth.
- Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. When warm, brush* it generously with olive oil. Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of the skillet and immediately thin out the pancake by gently spreading the surface with the bottom of the ladle. The batter should sizzle lightly. Cook until the top is completely dry, about 3 minutes. Then flip and cook for 2 more minutes. (If the pancake feels stuck, it means it’s not ready to flip; wait a minute and try again. The first pancake is almost always a fluke – don’t get discouraged.)
- Transfer the pancake to a plate. Brush the pan with oil again and repeat the process. Continue until all the batter is cooked, brushing the skillet between each pancake. If you want to work faster, use 2 skillets.
- If you want to prep ahead (like before leaving for work in the morning), cover the lentils with cold water instead and soak them in the fridge for up to 10 hours. Then start on step 3 when ready to cook dinner.
- Use a silicone brush, if you have one, to distribute the oil. No brush? Pour some oil into the skillet and use a folded paper towel to spread it out.
- Serving Size: 2 pancakes (without fillings)
- Calories: 230
- Sodium: 471 mg
- Fat: 7.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 28.8 g
- Fiber: 14.6 g
- Protein: 12.4 g
Keywords: vegan, red lentils, pancakes, dosa