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Feta Paniyaram

Feta Paniyaram

Let’s make Feta Paniyaram! Here’s my modern take on South Indian Paniyaram, combining feta, ground black pepper, onion and fresh coriander.

This is a batter recipe for South Indian Paniyaram with just a touch of Greek flavour.

Feta Paniyaram

If feta isn’t your thing, feel free to experiment with your own add-ins. Indeed, this is a choose your own adventure recipe.

Inside these little balls of fermented lentils and rice is a spongy texture and blank canvas for any flavours you might like to add.

What are Paniyaram?

Paniyaram, also known as kuzhi paniyaram in Tamil Nadu, are mini ball-shaped crisp pancakes made with fermented urad dal and rice batter.

They’re a traditional South Indian cuisine, popular for breakfast or as a snack.

The poha (flattened rice) in this helps to keep the paniyaram soft and squidgy. However, if you don’t have poha, you can also add the same measure of cooked, cold rice.

ingredients for paniyaram

Flavours and variations

  • Add pre-cooked chopped mixed vegetables like carrots, peas, green beans, peppers, corn or broccoli.
  • A touch of blended spinach will add a vibrant green colour.
  • A mashed banana and touch of cinnamon make for delicious sweet Paniyaram.

How to serve Paniyaram

feta paniyaram indian

As we know, Paniyaram can be made in both sweet and savoury variations.

The savoury version is typically eaten with a spicy chutney, sambar, pickle, or even with different kinds of podi (a South Indian spice powder). I like to make a paste of podi and ghee for dipping. Delicious!

The sweet version is often enjoyed with grated coconut and jaggery (unrefined cane sugar).

Most sources point to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as the birthplace of paniyaram. The name itself comes from Tamil, with ‘kuzhi’ meaning ‘hole’ referring to the mold the batter is cooked in.

Paniyaram has many names across South India, like ‘paddu’ in Kannada, ‘guliyappa’ and ‘ponganalu’ in Telugu, and ‘appe’ in Marathi. This variety suggests a long history of being enjoyed in different regions.

Which pan is best for making Paniyaram?

This is the style of pan I use for making Paniyaram (affiliate link) >

Paniyaram is cooked in a special pan called a paniyaram chatti or appe pan. This pan has a round base with several hemispherical cavities.

All you need to do is pour the batter into the cavities and cook until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

The pan is almost identical to those used to make Poffertjes (yeasted Dutch batter cakes), Aebleskiver (Danish pancake balls), Takoyaki (Japanese octopus snacks), Khanom Krok (Thai coconut snack) and Vitumbua (Tanzanian coconut doughnuts).

Any pan suitable for making the dishes mentioned above will suffice for making Indian Paniyaram.

Do Paniyaram freeze well?

Paniyaram freeze very well but when you reheat them, steam from frozen for a few minutes, and then pan fry over a high heat. By reheating this way, they won’t dry out.

Feta Paniyaram | Easy Paniyaram Batter Recipe | How to make South Indian Paniyaram

Yield: Serves 4

Feta Paniyaram

Paniyaram with Feta

Paniyaram, also known as kuzhi paniyaram in Tamil Nadu, are mini ball-shaped crisp pancakes made with fermented urad dal and rice batter. This is my take on the recipe, using creamy, salty Greek feta, black pepper and fresh coriander. The bites are crispy on the inside and spongy on the inside. Delicious!

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 20 hours
Total Time: 21 hours 20 minutes


For the paniyaram batter

  • 650g idli rice (parboiled short-grain rice)
  • 175g Basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp poha (flattened rice flakes)
  • 100g urad daal (white)
  • 1/2 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)

You will also need

  • 200g feta, crumbled
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarsely-ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp oil, for cooking the paniyaram


    1. In a large bowl, mix together the idli rice and Basmati rice. Wash in plenty of cold water, changing the water 3-4 times. Top the bowl up with enough cold water to cover the surface of the rice by 3-4 centimetres. It doesn't matter exactly how much, just make sure it's plenty as the rice will bloat and absorb the water as it soaks. Cover the bowl and allow to soak for 6-8 hours.
    2. In a separate large bowl, mix the urad daal and fenugreek seeds. Repeat the washing process, changing out the water 3-4 times. Top the bowl up with enough cold water to cover the surface of the daal by 3-4 centimetres. It doesn't matter exactly how much, just make sure it's plenty as the daal will also absorb the water as it soaks. Cover the bowl and allow to soak for 6-8 hours.
    3. Drain both the rice and the daal. Reserve about 100ml soaking liquid from each. Keep the rice and daal separate at this stage.
    4. In a high-powered blender or wet grinder, grind the rice until it is of a flowing consistency, still with some very fine grains. You might need to scrape the blender down between blitzes to ensure even blade time. Do not add too much water. If your blender is struggling, add a tablespoon of water at a time. The aim of the game is to add as little water as possible. The batter should feel like very fine grains of salt when the batter is rubbed between the thumb and forefinger. If you're a visual learner, watch my recipe video to see the exact consistency required. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
    5. Next, grind the daal and methi mix, along with the poha. This time, you're looking for a very smooth batter with no gritty feeling when rubbed between the thumb and forefinger. Add this to the bowl along with the ground rice batter. Again, try to add as little water as possible whilst grinding.
    6. Use your fingers to whip the batters together until well combined. Cover tightly and keep the bowl in a warm place for 8-12 hours, until bubbly, risen and fermented. You will be able to smell when it's done (it will have a sour, beer-like smell). If you keep the bowl somewhere cooler, the batter will take much longer to ferment so try to pick a very warm spot. Also, ensure your bowl is deep enough as the batter will rise up and overflow in a small bowl.
    7. Once the mixture has fermented, add salt. Do not add salt prior to the batter reaching the correct stage as it will delay the fermentation process. For the total amount of batter, I added about 1 1/4 tsp salt but start off with less and taste before adding more. Bear in mind that the feta is also quite salty.
    8. Adjust the consistency of the batter with a little bit of fresh water at a time. Beat with a ladle and check if it is a thick, flowing consistency. Again, please refer to the video if you're not sure what I mean by this. When dropping the batter from a height it should billow off the ladle and flow like lava, slowed by the air bubbles inside. This is why it's important not to add too much water when grinding; You can always add water, but you can't take it out. The flavour and smell should be a happy kind of sour.
    9. Congrats, your paniyaram batter is now ready. Keep it covered and at room temperature until you're ready to use it. If you're not using it on the same day, you can also store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It will become more sour over time, which adds to the delicious flavour.
    10. For this recipe, we will use half of the paniyaram batter. Store the other half in the fridge for later or double the quantity of add-ins to make paniyaram for a crowd.
    11. To half of the paniyaram batter, add 150g of the feta (reserve 50g for serving), red onion, coriander, black pepper, cumin and chilli. Stir well and set aside for 15 minutes.
    12. Grease the divets of a paniyaram pan with oil and place over a medium heat. Once the pan is smoking hot, place around 2 teaspoons of batter into each divet. Keep over a medium heat until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the paniyaram. Cover with a lid and turn the heat down slightly. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the tops have firmed up a little around the edges (not fully set).
    13. Remove the lid and use a cocktail stick to turn the paniyaram over. The bottom should be golden and crusty. Allow to cook over a medium-low heat (uncovered) for another 2 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached. You can add a touch more oil to help browning on the other side.
    14. Poke the cocktail stick in and lift each paniyaram out. Wipe the pan with a clean, dry kitchen towel, grease and repeat the filling and cooking process for the remaining batter.
    15. Serve the paniyaram hot, garnished with extra crumbled feta and chopped coriander. Enjoy with your favourite chutneys.

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Indian Greek Feta Paniyaram

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