(A dish that has retained its essence over the years and has all the good stuff to ease the guilt)
A recipe using shakkar, a ‘good’ and ‘complex’ sugar, and barley and wholewheat flour
If any sweet deserves the epithet ‘ancient’, it is the malpua. This historic sweet has altered very little from its original form—the fried, dainty appa, which was made by boiling or ghee-frying flour cakes and then dipping them in honey. The malpua is also credited with reorienting Chandragupta Maurya’s strategy: walking around in disguise with his adviser after a thwarted attempt to secure territory, they chanced upon a homely scene between a mother and her young son, who insisted on discarding the edges of the malpua and eating only its centre. The mother told him he was imitating Chandragupta, who invaded the heart of a territory without securing its frontiers, only to find himself hemmed in by forces from the frontiers. It is said this malpua-aided lesson helped Chandragupta Maurya improve his strategy.
Ingredients for malpua (makes 6)
1 ½ cup barley flour
½ tsp black peppercorn (very lightly crushed)
1/3 cup shakkar (powdered jaggery)
1 ½ tsp fennel seeds
1 1/3 cup milk
1 tsp ghee for the batter
3 tbsp honey
A pinch of salt
Desi ghee for shallow-frying
1. Dissolve the shakkar in milk.
2. Pour the milk and shakkar mixture into a bowl containing the barley flour and gradually mix with a whisk, so that there are no lumps.
3. Now, add the crushed peppercorn, fennel seeds and a pinch of salt.
4. Add one teaspoon of melted ghee and mix well.
5. Heat a thick, heavy griddle, or tawa, to make the pancake.
6. Melt one tablespoon of desi ghee on the griddle till the ghee is slightly smoking.
7. Whisk the batter once or twice to mix and, with a ladle, pour the batter in a circular motion on the tawa—it should be about five-six inches in diameter.
8. With a knife, lift the edges of the pancake to let the ghee run under it.
9. As it sets, lift it gently and turn it over to cook for a minute until the pancake is reddish-brown and crisp on the edges.
10. Smear the top surface with honey.
Ingredients for wholewheat churma
½ cup wholewheat flour
2 tbsp desi ghee
2 tbsp shakkar (powdered jaggery)
¾ tsp green cardamom powder
1 Add half of the melted desi ghee in the wholewheat flour and mix lightly until the flour looks like crumbs.
2. Melt the rest of the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the wholewheat flour and desi ghee mixture. Sautée by continuously stirring on low heat until golden-brown and the wheat flour starts giving a pleasant aroma.
3. Add the shakkar and green cardamom powder, mix well and remove from the heat.
4. Serve this churma on top of the malpua.
Recipe by Manjit Gill, Corporate chef, ITC Hotels