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Sourdough and oats othappam July 17, 2007

Posted by live2cook in Breakfast, Sour dough, What we call it....

When I read about Sourdough Starters, I was first hesitant to start and maintain one. The reason was, Bread and related products are not regular items in our daily diet routine. But, all the good things about sourdough inspired me to establish one. After establishing a successful starter, I could not ignore it. So, I started to find different ways to use it efficiently and more regularly. I am amazed by the outcomes. It reminded me about something.

In “Mahabharath” , the great epic of India, there was a scene. After losing everything to “Kauravas”, the “Pandavas” go to jungle to start their life. One day when Lord Krishna visits them in the jungle, Draupathi worships Lord Krishna and requests him a boon that her family should not starve for food. Lord Krishna Gives her “Akshaya pathra”, a miracle pot and says that whatever Draupathi adds into the pot will double in volume. And thereafter Draupathi was able to create lots and lots of variety of food from that pot.

The above scene might seem like a great imagination of the author. But If you ask me, I will say, Lord Krishna would have given Draupathi, a pot of sourdough!!! Let’s talk about it now.

My first post about sourdough starter talked about establishing a Mother Starter.

The next step after establishing a “Mother Starter” is to reactivate it and use it in recipes. There are lot many ways to do that. The way, that I found comfortable was to take a good amount from the Mother starter and Create an “Active Starter“.

An Active starter is one that can ferment the flour and water added to it, within 2 – 3 hours. The refrigerated Mother Starter will be dormant and will take long time to raise the bread dough. So, every week, I take the mother starter out and bring it to room temperature. I take a cup of starter from it, add 2 Cups of flour and 1 cup of water to it and mix everything in a separate bowl and place it on my kitchen counter. I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and poke a few hole on the wrap. After 2 hours, the active starter will look like this:

Active Starter

In the meanwhile, I add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water to the Mother starter for the 1 cup of starter I removed. After Mixing it thoroughly, I will leave it undisturbed. Once the well fed mother starter raises in the next hour, it is ready to be stored in the fridge for future use.

Creating the active starter depends upon the recipes we are planning to do. Suppose we are planning to bake 2 loaves of bread and half dozen of pan cakes, we will need 2 1/2 to 3 cups of active starter. These are some points that I observed which will help anyone who wants to explore the sourdough world.

  • 1 cup Active Starter = one 0.25 packet of commercial yeast = 1/4 teaspoon of commercial yeast = 1 egg (YES! active starter can be used as replacement for egg to make egg free recipes!!)
  • 2 cups of flour + 2 cups of water, mixed with 1/2 cup of mother starter will give approximately 2 1/4 cups of Active Starter, after fermentation.
  • More the starter, sooner the dough or batter raises. But if the starter is more than the mixed flour and water, the outcome will be too sour. 1/2 : 1 Proportion of starter to flour mixture works well and gives nice raise and taste. For 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water, 1 cup of Mother starter will match the 1/2 : 1 Proportion.
  • Using warm water in winter speeds the fermentation process while ordinary or room temperature water controls over fermentation during summer
  • Salt delays the raising and fermenting process. So it is good to add it after fermentation.
  • Baking soda and powder kills yeasts. Adding it during fermentation delays the process as considerable amount of the yeast creatures die. It should be added at the final stage. Baking soda releases Carbon-dioxide when mixed with flour. Natural yeast releases carbon-dioxide when they die. That is why both are used as leavening agents.
  • After leaving the active starter for an hour in room temperature, we can refrigerate it. It will still raise in the fridge. So, By mixing the active starter in the evening and let it raise in the fridge overnight will save some time the next day.

Oats Othappam is one recipe that I created using the active starter this week. “Othappam” is a savory pancake from Southern India. Soft and spongy food items are denoted as “Appam” in Tamil Language. “ootrudhal” is the word which denotes “To Pour”. Batter poured in to hot griddle and cooked until soft and spongy is “othappam”.

Usually leftover and over fermented Dosa or Idly batters are cooked as othappam. We can also prepare a batter specially for othappam by grinding soaked rice, urad dal, chana dal and fenugreek seeds and fermenting it for 12 hours. But “Oats Othappam” is a no grind recipe.


1 cup Active Starter
1 cup Steel cut oats
1/2 cup Whole Wheat flour
1/4 cup of Water
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 cup chopped Onions
1/4 teaspoon Baking soda
2 Green Chillies chopped (optional)
2 -3 Curry leaves chopped(optional)
1/8 cup oil for shallow frying.


1. Mix the starter, oats, whole wheat flour and water in a large bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or cheese cloth. Allow it to double in volume. This will take 1-2 hours depending upon the age of the starter.
2. After fermentation, Mix other ingredients to the batter.
3. Heat a Griddle until a drop of water evaporates immediately.
4. Pour 1/3 cup of batter in the middle. Slightly shake the griddle to help the batter to spread a little.
5. Pour 1/2 teaspoon oil around the batter.
6. When the edges turn golden brown, flip and cook the other side too.

Oats Othappam

This my another entry for WBB#13 Event hosted by Madhuli.

Note: To Prepare the recipe without sourdough, replace the starter with 1 cup home made yogurt and ferment for at least 5 hours.




1. bee - July 17, 2007

what a great step by step guide to starters. this is bookmarked. love your blog.

2. Suganya - July 18, 2007

I wanted to do this too when I heard abt Sourdough starters. Same idea of making idlis or dosas. And that is where it stopped :)..

3. Asha - July 18, 2007

You know,Krishna must have given her the Sour dough starter!! That was great to read and so far I haven’t tried making Mother starter.My kids hate the smell of mild idli batter,so I am hesitating.But one day I will!!
Dosa looks fabulous.Linda made Idlis with sour dough starter,they look great too.

4. sharmi - July 18, 2007

hey that has come out really well. I am really scared to try out something with oats. dont know why. this one rocks.

5. Laavanya - July 18, 2007

I love sourdough bread. Your post is very tempting but I don’t know if I’ll have the patience to work with the starters. Maybe someday in the future… 🙂 Kudos to you.

6. WBB#13 Oats- Roundup « My Foodcourt - July 31, 2007

[…] Priya also experiments with some sourdough and Oats to make these novel Sourdough and Oats Othappam […]

7. Roopa - July 31, 2007

wow the uttapams are looking very good. nice info on sourdough starters. gotto to try 🙂 thanks

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