If there is one sweet in the whole wide world that I can make a meal of, it would be the Bengali crêpe patishapta. But they have to be made by Maa or my paternal aunt. I struggle when I have to eat ones made by others; which in no way means patishaptas made by them are not good. Just that I have a finicky sweet tooth! #embarassedgrin
So when Pishi1 came visiting in December, Maa and she had a gala time churning out Bengali delicacies, including pandering to my demand for patishaptas. Their only condition being I had to learn how to make them. Oh yes! Am always game for cooking lessons and so began the lessons.
One among the pithe2 family, patishapta is typically made of rice flour or wheat flour and can be made anytime during the year. But it is a must in the month of January when several parts of India celebrate Makar Sankranti3. In my native state of West Bengal, this celebration is referred to as Poush Sankranti4 while in my resident state Gujarat the festival is celebrated as Uttarayan better known as the Kite Flying Festival.
As is with most local delicacies, each household has customised the recipe for patishapta as per its taste so there are honestly no rules.
The tricky part of this recipe lies in the crêpes – a breeze for veterans and a struggle for beginners like me. It is imperative that you get the thickness of the crêpes right – too thick and it feels like pancake and too thin will give you a droopy patishapta. An additional challenge was folding and rolling the crêpe. Too stressful I say but worth every bead of sweat!
Patishapta (Crêpes with sweet coconut filling)
Recipe origin: West Bengal, India
Time: 1 hour
Serves: 15 (may vary on size)
Semolina – 1 cup
All-purpose flour – 1 cup
Rice flour – ¼ cup
Milk or water – 1 cup (more if needed)
Sugar – 2 tablespoons (more if needed)
Pinch of salt
Ghee (to fry crêpes)
Fresh grated coconut – 1 cup
Khoya – 1½ cup
Sugar – 1/2 cup (more if needed)
Ghee – 2 tablespoons
Cardamom powder – 1 teaspoon
Chopped nuts – ½ cup (optional)
The filling – In a wok or non-stick pan, melt some ghee on low flame. Pour freshly grated coconut along with the sugar into this pan. Cook until the mixture is smooth and does not stick to the pan. Add the khoya and cook till all ingredients are mixed well and have a sticky texture. If you want to use nuts, add them now. Mix well, remove from flame, add a pinch of cardamom powder and set aside.
The batter – In a big bowl, soak semolina in ½ cup of milk for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes (or more), give it a quick stir before adding all-purpose flour, rice flour, sugar and salt. Mix thoroughly and gradually pour in the milk to make the batter. Adjust the batter consistency and sweetness as per your taste. Do remember that the filling is also sweet.
The Patishapta – Place a non-stick fry pan on low flame and brush with some ghee. Once the pan is mildly hot, pour a ladle of batter and spread it to make a crêpe the size of your hand. I used the back of the ladle to spread the batter. Take a tablespoon of the filling and lay it lengthwise on one side of the crêpe. Now gently roll the crêpe to the end away from you. Once you have gotten a hang of this rolling thing, you can also place the filling down the middle and fold in both edges of the crêpe. Flip and cook both sides until golden brown. Those who prefer crispier versions can cook it for a few more seconds.
Take off the pan and serve – or rather eat it yourself – hot.
Notes to pin: You can easily replace the ghee with vegetable oil, fresh coconut with desiccated coconut, sugar with jaggery and milk with water.
This recipe needs you to be super vigilant – coconut used in the filling tends to burn easily while the crepes need to be soft not like bread so….
The recipe shared by me seems to be the easiest and common style. You can shake up the filling by making it with only freshly grated coconut or only khoya.
In several households, the cooked patishapta is drizzled with condensed milk and nuts before being served. I like my patishapta warm so I prefer to pop it in the microwave for 5 seconds before gobbling it up in 2!
1 Pishi – Endearment for father’s sister in Bengali language
2 pithe – Sweet or savoury cakes made of rice flour or wheat flour with fillings
3 Makar Sankranti – Makar Sankranti is used to refer to a specific solar day and a festival celebrated across India
4 Poush Sankranti – Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Poush Sankranti in West Bengal, named after the Bengali month in which it falls. It is the regional harvest festival
Photos: Vaibhav Tanna