Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Semolina Pancakes (rava uthapam)

I adore cooking Indian food.  So when a friend asked me to make chicken tikka masala I happily obliged.   I had everything on hand to make the entree.  Unfortunately, I had no jasmine or basmati rice to serve on the side, nor did I have the patience for naan.  Thumbing through my Indian cookbook I found this quick starchy side.  It sounded absolutely perfect for sopping up the creamy sauce, AND I had the semolina on hand.

The original recipe can be made with farina (cream of wheat) instead of semolina, which may be more readily available for some.  Monica sprinkles the tops of her rava uthapam with tomatoes in addition to the red pepper and onion.  She also uses carom seeds on top for extra flavor and texture.  Carom is one spice I in its stead I sprinkled my pancakes with sesame seeds.  Cumin seeds also make a far substitute.

Adapted for The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide

Makes 8 to 10 pancakes

The Ingredients:
1 cup course semolina flour
1cup plain yogurt
1/4 tsp baking powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp carom seeds
1/4 small red onion, finely diced
1 small red pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

The Process:
In a medium bowl, combine the semolina and yogurt. Season with salt to taste.  Whisk in 1/4 to 1/2 cup water until the batter reaches the consistency of pancake batter.  Add the baking powder and mix thoroughly.  Allow to rest for 2o minutes.

In a seperate, small bowl, combine the red pepper and onion.

Heat a griddle or large skillet to medium high heat.  Grease lightly with oil.

Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the hot griddle.  As bubbles begin to form on the surface, sprinkle a small amount of onion/pepper topping and sesame seeds in the center of the pancake and flip (abut 2 minutes).  Cook the other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Remove from griddle and cover to keep warm.  Repeat with remaining batter.

The Review:
These lovely little cakes came together with very little effort.  They have little flavor on their own, making them an excellent accompaniment to spicier entrees.  They are denser than western pancakes and heartier than naan.  They certainly held their own against our tikka masala!

I would love to make these again, but with different variations of toppings and spice.  If it weren't for the 20 minute rest period, I'd likely use them as a breakfast staple!  Such is the glory of a seemingly bland food...endless adaptability.

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