Last year, during an interview with a prominent newspaper in India, one of the questions alluded to a disappearing trend of good ole Parsi food delicacies – like Parsi-style sweetened crepes or pancakes called ‘Chapat.’
My mind reeled with images of the many Chapat I’ve savored as a child…happy memories of my Mamaiji (maternal grandma) plating hot off the pan Chapat for us eager-n-hungry grandkids.
Well, Chapat ain’t going anywhere – not on my watch!
So here it is – my refreshed version of the Parsi Chapat, with a few fragrant additions to the traditional method, paired with nuggets of wisdom on making Chapat crepes and pancakes, which I’ve picked up along the way.
Some points to keep in mind while making my ‘Chapat’ recipe:
• Simply explained, Parsi Chapat is slightly thicker than a crepe and much thinner than a pancake.
• Semolina flour also called durum or pasta flour or Rava adds a hearty texture, unique to the Parsi Chapat.
• Ingredients like cinnamon and orange zest are not typical of a Parsi Chapat; they’re my delicious ideas for this recipe based on experience (especially from handling the ‘Crepe Suzette’ cart in my hotel days.)
• The buttery textures of pine nuts (or even blanched almond) are a great substitute for ‘Charoli seeds’ which are not easily available in western countries.
• I’ve kept the sugar level low; instead drizzle honey or sprinkle powdered sugar over the Parsi Chapat while serving. There’s also a handy list of topping ideas in the recipe.
• The first crepe in the pan could probably get messed up; be prepared for that and move on.
Now on to the recipe…
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup semolina flour or Rava (also sold as durum or pasta flour)
- ¼ cup sugar (more if desired)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon (pinch) salt
- 1 teaspoon orange zest (use a grater or microplane zester to grate/zest the peel of orange)
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts or blanched almond, roughly chopped
- Butter, to grease the pan
- Orange marmalade
- Fruit preserve or compote of choice
- Honey or maple syrup
- A dollop of butter
- Powdered sugar
- Chocolate chips and walnuts (add these while crepe is still in the pan)
- Sweetened Bourbon whipped cream
- Ice-cream of choice
- In a mixing bowl, bring all the dry ingredients together – all-purpose and semolina flour, sugar, spices, salt and orange zest. (Tip: While zesting an orange, use a firm fruit and don't grate the white part of the peel, which gives a bitter taste.)
- In another bowl combine the milk, vanilla essence and egg till they are well mixed.
- Add the milk and egg mixture to the flour slowly to avoid those invariable lumps of flour in the batter. Let the batter sit (or stand, if you prefer that term) for 15-20 minutes before making the crepes. The batter will have a thick pouring consistency.
- Heat a medium sized pan (the pan will govern the size of your crepe, so it shouldn't be too large or too small.) Lightly grease the bottom of the pan with butter, making sure there is no excess butter left in the pan; that makes it difficult for the batter to spread evenly in the pan.
- Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the hot pan, lift it by the handle and swirl it around till the batter has spread out evenly on the pan. When the crepe lifts off at the edges, flip it and cook briefly for 15 seconds.
- Drizzle chopped pine nuts or blanched almond over the Chapat crepe while warm. Fold the Chapat into a classic triangular shape or roll it up.
- Parsi Chapat is best enjoyed freshly cooked with a topping of your choice (refer to the ideas above to get you started.)