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.



Savory Indian Crêpes
with Tomato-Shallot Chutney (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

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon carom (ajowan)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 jalapeño (cored and seeded if you prefer a milder flavor), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons canola oil

For the chutney

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño (cored and seeded if you prefer a milder flavor), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

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.

  • from:
  • American Masala:
    125 New Classics From My Home Kitchen
  • by Suvir Saran with Raquel Pelzel
  • Clarkson Potter 2007
  • Hardcover; 272 pages; $35.00
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-307-34150-1; 030734150X
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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American Masala


This page created February 2008

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