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Monday, March 1, 2010

Holi-special Malpoa (Sweetened flour and semolina pancake in sugar syrup)

The festival to usher in Spring is finally here!Wish everyone a very happy,fun-filled and colorful Holi 2010!!

In Bengal, Holi is celebrated more as 'Dol Jatra' which,roughly translated,means 'The Swing Festival'.As per ancient lores, Lord Krishna, a mythological Hindu character and a revered deity among Hindus would enjoy the advent of springtime by frolicking with his 'Gopinis' or female companions. He would amuse them by playing mellifluous tunes on His flute, all the while swinging with his lady love,Radha.The tradition of 'Dol Jatra' takes up from there and the ritual is to place deities of Lord Krishna and Radha on a bedecked swing or palanquin and carry on celebrations all around them,smearing each other with 'Abeer' or colored powder.As kids, we would get decked up in yellowish-hued sarees with dense,closely-knit marigold wreaths adorning our sprightly selves and danced to choreographed compositions of Tagore.It would take weeks before we could actually get over the intoxication of the 'Dol Jatra' celebrations,all the while wishing deep in our hearts,that the festival would come a bit sooner the next year!

In traditional Bengali homes, special sweets and savouries are prepared to usher in Holi celebrations.In keeping with customs, I prepared 'Malpoa' which is a sweetened flour and semolina pancake dipped in sugar syrup, and crisp 'Nimki' or deep-fried flour crackers with whole spices.Both of them are very easy to make and can be done in a jiffy!I will post the Malpoa recipe for today's post.

Holi-special Mapoa (Sweetened flour and semolina pancake in sugar syrup)

You will need:
White flour - About 250 grams.This will prepare around 15-20 malpoas.
Semolina - About 50 gms.The semolina is rougly 1/5th the proportion of the flour.
Fennel seeds(Mouri) - About 1 teaspoon
Nigella seeds (Kalo jeera or Kalonji) - About half a teaspoon
Sugar - About 400 gms (Both for the syrup and the pancakes)
Milk - A medium-sized cupful
Cardamom powder (a pinch) or 1-2 whole cardamom pods
Ghee(Clarified butter) or refined oil for frying the pancakes(Canola oil will also do)

How to make:
1.At first, you will need to prepare the batter for the pancake.For this take a deep-bottomed bowl and add the flour,semolina,fennel seeds,nigella seeds and just about 100 gms sugar.Mix the dry ingredients lighly with a spoon and then add in the milk.Take care not to add in all the milk at one go!Add about half the milk and check the consistency.

2.Mix the batter well.At this point,add in the rest of the milk slowly with one hand and keep on stirring with the other.The batter should just have a dripping consistency.It should neither be too stiff nor too runny.

3.To check the consistency,scoop up the batter on you ladle and when tilted,it should pour down effortessly leaving no flour lump on the ladle.

4.Keep the batter aside and take about 2 cups of water in another pan.Put the pan on high heat and let the water heat up.When bubbles start to appear,pour in the rest of the sugar in the water and let it come to a boil.Add just a pinch of cardamom powder or de-seed 1-2 cardamom pods and add to the syrup.The syrup should be ready by the time the pancakes are done.

5.Now heat about one and a half tablespoons of ghee or refined oil in a wok.When heated well,take a spoonful of batter and pour slowly into the hot ghee or oil, allowing it to spread out into roundish pancake.The pancake should not be too thick.If the batter tends to gather and stay at the centre,gently swivel aroung the pan to ease out the batter.Do not be disheartened if the first one does not turn out as expected.Keep trying and one should be ok by the 3rd or 4th pancake!:)

6.When one side is done,flip over and fry the other side of the pancake.The pancake will be dotted with the fennel and nigella seeds and fried a light brown by the edges.

7.In the meantime,keep on checking the sugar syrup.When the syrup becomes relatively thickened, switch off the heat and let it cool.Now dip the fried pancakes in the syrup,coat both sides well and keep on a plate.Follow the same routine for all the pancakes and pour the remaining syrup over them when done.Your Holi-special malpoa is ready to be served!

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