Sweet tradition of the east

Winter is the season to experiment with food like exploring the delicacies of different regions. What about experiencing the sweetness of the eastern region? Toshali Mandal shares the recipes of two traditional desserts — malpua, which can be vaguely described as pancake in sugar syrup, and patishapta, or Indian crepe with kheer. For those with a sweet tooth, malpua can be a perfect treat. And for the reluctant sweet-eaters, the desi crepe can kindle curiosity. So what are you waiting for? Get ready for a Sunday special dessert.

Malpua

Ingredients

For sugar syrup
1 cup (200 gm) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup water
4 green cardamoms
Few saffron strands
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

For malpua
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of dry milk powder
1/3 cup of desiccated coconut powder
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, slightly crushed
1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar
A pinch of salt and baking powder
1.5 cups of milk
Oil or ghee for frying
Nuts for garnishing

Direction

Make the sugar syrup by mixing a cup of sugar with half cup of water in a pan. Keep it on medium heat. Add crushed cardamom pods and saffron strands. Once the sugar dissolves, lower the heat and add lemon juice. Let the syrup simmer for 8-10 minutes until it becomes sticky and reaches 1-string consistency. The lemon juice prevents crystallisation. To check whether the syrup has reached 1-string consistency, place a drop of syrup between your thumb and index finger and then move the fingers away from each other. You will see formation of a string. That means the syrup is done. If this is difficult to understand, simply make the syrup sticky. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
To make the batter for the malpua, add flour, milk powder and desiccated coconut to a large bowl. Add crushed fennel seeds, sugar, pinch of salt and baking powder and mix well. Start adding milk, in small quantities, and whisk to form a smooth batter. It should be a thick batter of pouring consistency. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes.
Heat enough oil or ghee in a wide pan on medium heat. You don’t need to submerge the entire malpua in oil. Pour a small ladle full of batter into the hot oil. The batter will form a round shape on its own. I filled the pan with oil and then added two tablespoons of ghee to it. You can use only ghee.
Lower the heat and fry the malpua until golden brown on both sides. When you are frying one side, splash oil on the other with a spatula so that it gets little cooked too at the same time. Flip and then completely fry the other side. Remove the malpua from oil carefully, drain the oil.
Dip the malpua in the sugar syrup. Make sure the syrup is warm. If it is not, then place the pan on low heat to warm it before soaking the malpua. Soak each side for 30 seconds. Remove malpua from the syrup and place on a serving plate. Garnish with nuts, edible silver leaves (optional) and serve.

Patishapta

Ingredients

For the crepe
75 gm of maida (flour)
30 gm of semolina
10 gm rice
280 ml milk
¼ teaspoon salt
30 gm sugar
5 gm ghee (for greasing)

For the filling

1.5 litre milk
65 gm of sugar
1 teaspoon flour
Direction

For the crepe batter, blitz rice in an electric grinder to a fine powder. You now have rice flour. In a mixing bowl, add the maida, semolina, rice flour, sugar, salt and milk. Mix the ingredients but do not over-mix or your crepes may turn out chewy. Cover the batter and set it aside for two hours. This will allow time for the sooji to swell up and the sugar to melt.
While your batter is resting, prepare the kheer, which will form the filling for our patishapta. Take 1.5 l milk in a heavy-bottom saucepan and set it to boil. Once bubbling, stir in the entire amount of sugar. Keep boiling while stirring it continuously for about 90 minutes. During this entire time, the pot should be on medium to low heat. At regular intervals of 3–4 minutes, be sure to scrape the solids from the bottom and sides of the pot and incorporate them into the boiling milk. This step, as well as the previous one, is crucial. We don’t want our kheer to burn at any point.
Once the milk has thickened such that when you lift some of it on your spoon and drop it, it falls in clumps, make a paste of one teaspoon each of flour and milk. Add this paste to the pot. Stir and cook for another five minutes. Allow the kheer to cool before proceeding to the next stage.
Divide the kheer in equal portions of 22 gm each. Give your batter a quick stir till it is uniform. Now, set a non-stick pan on medium-low flame and allow it to heat up completely.
Once the pan is hot, smear it with a very light coating of ghee (remember, we are already using a non-stick pan). Using a ladle, take about 25 gm of the batter and put it on the pan. Swirl it around gradually to form a thin crepe, about 12 cm in diameter. Roll a portion of the kheer between your palms to form a log (about 8 cm long) and flatten it with your fingers.
Place it at one end of the crepe and start folding the crepe into a roll, with the help of a spatula. (Note that we are cooking only one side of the crepe). Transfer the patishapta from the pan to a plate and proceed making the rest. These can be eaten hot or cold. These can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

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