the appetizer:

Learn authentic Indian cooking with American Masala by Suvir Saran, including recipes like Savory Indian Crêpes with Tomato-Shallot Chutney (Cheelas); Goan-Style Shrimp Curry; and Chicken-Chickpea Harira.

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Savory Indian Crêpes
with Tomato-Shallot Chutney (Cheelas)

Cheelas

 

Serves 4 to 6

The smell of cheelas hot off the griddle is my favorite wake-up call. When I go home to visit my family in India, my mother makes them for me for breakfast. My father, Charlie, and I eat them as fast as possible, making sure that we each scoop up as much chutney in the cheelas as possible. Shallots lend a superb mild onion-garlic flavor to the chutney, but you can also substitute one medium red onion.

For the crêpes

For the chutney

To prepare the crêpes, whisk the chickpea flour, salt, carom, and cayenne pepper together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the water (the batter should look like a thin pancake batter) and set the batter aside for 30 minutes.

While the batter rests, make the chutney: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium- high heat for 1 minute. Add the shallots and salt and cook until the shallots are transparent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, jalapeño, and cilantro, cover the saucepan, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the tomatoes are very saucy, 6 to 8 minutes. Uncover the saucepan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the chutney is thick and jammy, another 6 to 8 minutes. Set it aside while you make the crêpes.

Gently stir the jalapeño and 1/4 cup cilantro into the crêpe batter, trying not to create any bubbles. Heat a medium nonstick skillet or griddle over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. You'll know when it's hot enough when a few droplets of water sizzle on the skillet. Working quickly, pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the center of the skillet and spread into a large and thin circle with the back of the measuring cup or the back of a spoon (do it quickly—the batter cooks fast). Drizzle 1/4 teaspoon of canola oil over the top of the crêpe. Cook the underside of the crêpe until browned, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until it's dry, about 30 seconds. Serve with a generous scoop of chutney and eat hot.

 

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This page created February 2008