I bring you a lovely Indian-inspired dessert in honor of India’s 68th Independence Day on the 15th. It is a beautiful Indian tradition to have something sweet on any auspicious occasion, so if you are looking for something unique to celebrate this national holiday, do read on.
Malpua is an Indian dessert, which like most Indian desserts, is sinfully rich and delicious. I have never had an authentic malpua, it is not that common where I grew up. Imagine a deep-fried pancake soaked in a sweet sugar syrup, sometimes also served with a sweetened condensed milk preparation (rabri). That roughly sums up malpua. There are countless variations as always. While northern India is full of wheat and sugar based desserts, the south is famous for desserts made with rice flour and jaggery. Yes, malpua has a long-lost cousin in the south, the equally calorific deep-fried adhirasams. I couldn’t be remotely bothered with either of them so far. The adhirasams especially are a lot of work.
But some overly ripe bananas in our fruit basket led me to think about a stack of banana pancakes. One thought led to another and soon I found myself thinking of a non-fried malpua recipe by Tarla Dalal. So instead of banana pancakes with maple syrup, I decided I would try my hand at a “healthier” version of the malpua dessert made with regular pancakes. It still has a substantial amount of sugar in the syrup, so I would say this recipe is only relatively healthier than the traditional one. But we have totally eliminated the frying part.
Of course, the edges of these pancakes do not become crisp like they would if you fried them, but that is a concession I am willing to make any day. These are pretty addictive. Seriously. Do not eat one of these with the whole stack right in front of you. Take one out, keep the container out of sight and enjoy your banana malpua slowly, savoring the burst of sweet syrupy flavor in your mouth. Since it is healthier, maybe you can justify having two! They keep well in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy them over a few days by slightly re-heating them while serving.
The batter in the original Tarla Dalal recipe has only flour and heavy cream, but I made them as one would prepare eggless pancakes. Yes, the batter has no eggs or other leavening agents, so the pancakes are rather flat. But once they soak up all the syrupy goodness, they become deliciously soft and sweet! You can also try serving them with honey or sweetened condensed milk. I am sure Tarla Dalal would have approved. After all, she was known for her twisted (and yummy) interpretations of traditional Indian recipes.
Malpua can be served with lightly toasted nuts like pistachios and almonds. I did not have any on hand when I made this, so I served them with crunchy homemade muesli. The crunchiness and slight saltiness of the oats and the tartness of the dried cranberries complimented the sweet pancakes really well. All said and done, these looked really different from a traditional malpua, more like deconstructed malpua.
BANANA MALPUA (INDIAN PANCAKES IN SUGAR SYRUP)
You will need:
For the sugar syrup,
- Water – 1 cup
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
For the banana pancakes,
- Bananas – 2 large ones, very ripe
- Milk – 1 cup
- Sugar – 2 tbsp
- Whole-wheat flour and all-purpose flour – 1 cup in total (half cup of each or in any ratio you like)
- Semolina or rice flour – 1/4 cup
- Salt – 1/8 tsp
- Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
- Oil or ghee – a few teaspoons, for greasing the pan
- Sugar syrup: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat till the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil the syrup for 5 minutes till it is slightly thickened. Cool slightly and strain to remove the cardamom threads.
- Banana pancakes: Mash the bananas, add milk and sugar and combine well. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients together. Mix dry and wet ingredients well till a smooth lump-free pancake batter is formed. You can easily do this in a blender too. Let the batter rest for an hour in the refrigerator.
- Heat a skillet and brush lightly with oil or ghee. Pour a small amount of batter and cook till lightly browned on both sides. Dot the sides of the pancake with a little ghee for added flavor. Make pancakes of your preferred size, but not too large. Repeat till all the batter is used up. Keep the cooked pancakes warm.
- Malpua: Take the sugar syrup in a flat dish and soak the pancakes in it for 10 minutes. Both the pancakes and syrup must be warm and not cold or even too hot. You can remove some of the excess syrup once the malpuas are soft and sufficiently sweet. This leftover syrup may be stored in the refrigerator to be used again.
- Enjoy warm malpuas topped with crushed nuts or some crunchy muesli/granola.
If you are curious about the muesli, here is how I made it.
You simply combine a little oil and sweetener (brown sugar or honey), toss rolled oats in it and toast it in a hot skillet till golden (or bake in a 350 deg. F oven for 15 minutes or till golden). A cup of oats needs a tablespoon each of oil and brown sugar. Add a handful of your favorite nuts or dried fruits to the toasted oats and break up any large clusters. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. It is perfect in parfait or as a simple snack.
Scale up the recipe to as much as you need.
Have you had malpua the traditional way? Or are you looking for a unique dessert? Try this recipe then.
I assure you it’ll be a huge hit!
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
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- By Stephanie Lynn