Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pudla: Pancakes on Parade

Every freezer contains, within its cold depths, a bag of peas, lurking way up the back. Grasp about in the dark and you’ll no doubt find other long-abandoned edibles worth retrieving, or perhaps dumping, in the process. Much as I like people - really, I do - there are days when being alone, at home, is much needed. Digging around in the freezer and standing in front of the pantry sighing can yield surprising results. The sort that make stepping out into the fray irrelevant. Discovering a very icy bag of green peas, still sweet despite their lengthy hibernation, made me ridiculously happy this weekend.

Besan or gram, a buff-coloured flour made of chickpeas, may not be an ingredient native to your panty, but that may change once you’ve tried Pudla. Egg-less, dairy-less pancakes, Pudla traditionally belong to the cooking of the mango-shaped state of Gujarat in western India. Some cooks liken these to crepes, but that’s not quite right – there’s a certain magic that eggs, milk and refined white flour weave that cannot be equalled by besan alone. I don’t envision serving these sweet, though you, of course, with a little tweaking, may. The batter is best when spicy and served as a quick, simple dinner or lunch to my way of thinking. There’s much that can be made with the flour besides; a veritable wealth of gorgeous recipes await the remainder of your stash.

Serve piping hot, straight from the pan, with an array of chutneys, salsas, relishes, pickles or some thick, strained yoghurt; whatever your fridge holds. I made a winter salsa with a prized tamarillo and an avocado, but don’t go to great lengths here. That would simply defeat the purpose. You don’t want to have to go shopping.

I may never leave the house again.

Pudla (chickpea pancakes) with ginger and crushed peas - feeds 2-3

From Madhur Jaffrey. I’ve made these a lot this week. Exactly how many times, I’m not willing to share. It’s a little embarrassing. These will not turn out to be perfectly round – each will take on its own, odd shape and that, for me, is part of their charm.

1 cup of frozen, shelled green peas
2 cups of chickpea flour (besan/gram)
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
Good pinch of ground turmeric
Good pinch of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups of water
A large thumb of ginger
4 spring onions, finely sliced
A little olive oil, for frying

Cook the peas, in their frozen state, in boiling water according to the packet instructions and drain well. Lightly crush with either a fork or a potato masher.

Sift the chickpea flour, spices and salt into a roomy bowl. Make a well and slowly trickle the water into the centre, whisking in a little of the dry mixture from the sides as you go. There must be no lumps. Lumps are bad. Grate the ginger and squeeze the resulting juice into the mixture, whisk well and stir through the peas and spring onions. Rest, at room temperature, for 30 minutes.

Warm a frying pan over a medium-high heat and drizzle in a little oil. When hot, pour in a ladle of the mixture and cook for 2 minutes. They should be golden underneath. Drizzle the uncooked side with another dribble of oil before flipping and cooking for a further 2 minutes. Eat hot, straight from the pan.

Tamarillo and avocado salsa

My beautiful almost-mother-in-law Barbara often serves rosy-hued poached tamarillos for dessert. They are truly a sensational winter fruit. I’m indebted to Stephanie Alexander for the idea of using tamarillo in a salsa. This is rather good.

1 tamarillo
1 ripe but firm avocado
2 spring onions
Scrap of garlic, crushed
A little sugar
Sea salt and pepper
Olive oil

Cut a small cross in the pointed end of the tamarillo and place it in a heat-proof bowl. Cover with freshly boiled water and retrieve after 1 minute. Peel then dice the flesh – seeds and all. Peel, deseed and dice the avocado and chop the spring onions as finely as your inclination permits. Gently toss with the garlic in a small bowl. Season to taste with a sprinkling of sugar, some salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and toss again.

Susan, The Well-Seasoned Cook, is hosting a one off event called Pancakes on Parade.

Get flipping - entries close on the 6th of July.


Callipygia said...

I'd say who needs to leave the home with pudla on parade? Jolly title and good use for those peas. And just in time really, recently a winged version of the chickpea crepe...leaden and dead left me cold and discouraged= I'll give this a go!

Anonymous said...

Oh oh oh - I have both besan and freezer lurking peas! Off to kitchen....

Johanna said...

no photo! I was hoping to see if they were nice and green :-)

Guess I will just have to try them myself to find out - and I have a bag of besan that is in desperate need of attention.

I was also thinking about frozen peas this morning which are always in the freezer when I need a little green in my life.

Arundathi said...

would've loved to have seen photos of the pancakes! this sounds delicious! thanks.

Lucy said...

Calli, these are very light and lovely!

Hope you like them, Vegeyum!

Johanna, the light fades so early here in winter, and disappears at exactly the moment I want to cook them, hench no's a great use for your bag of besan.

Hi Arundahti, yes, it's a shame, but winter makes it hard to get finished food photos done. They are, nonetheless, very delicious.

Wendy said...

Fantastic! Very excited about trying this out. I too have all the ingredients in my kitchen and, as we're off on holiday this weekend, I'm trying not to buy more food this week. Perfect timing, m'dear.

Laurie Constantino said...

I've never herard of pudla and never heard of tamarillo, much less use it in salsa. A terrifically educational post and, as always, gorgeous pictures.

shula said...


Ricki said...

I've heard of besan flour but never used it. . . this will be the recipe! These sound absolutely delicious--everything in there, I love!

Rosa said...

Ah, the wonders of chickpea flour - I can't get enough of it either. I've made a similar pancake with grated celeriac... I love the sound of this salsa. And Lucy, only you could make frozen peas look delicious!

Lisa said...

These pancakes ... I've owned that book for years, but how is it I have never made these??!! I must get to that recipe right away. Your post has me sold on the idea. My sweetie is going away for a few weeks at the end of the month, so I will make them when I can indulge in a batch, all by myself.

grocer said...

I can honestly say, i NEVER have peas in the freezer. I hates 'em (only the frozen ones)

sunita said...

Lucy, your pancakes sound wonderful...I am very much tempted to try them...thanks for the idea :-)

Marie said...

Like Lisa I have this recipe at home but have never tried it till 30 minutes ago when I knew as soon as I read your post that I would like them. They were fabulous!

Holler said...

These sound really good, I will have to try them. My store cupboard is obviously not up to scratch as I don't have chickpea flour, although I have everything else!

Anonymous said...

MMmmm these sound absolutely fabulous and really are quite simple to make (so long as the ingredients are around). And I know I have plenty of frozen peas that need to be put to use.

Lucy said...

Wendy, I'm surprised by my own timing - everyone seems to be in the throes of emptying pantries!

Laurie, I think you'd love tamarillos. They are tart and astringent raw, but poached in sugar syrup...oh, yum.

Shula :-)

Ricki, they're perfect for when you want to 'rustle up' something quickly. Hope you like them!

Rosa...grated celeriac...I may indeed never, ever leave the house again. I've two beautiful celeriacs sitting next to me as I type. Thanks!

Lisa, that book is a wealth of amazing, often vegan, recipes. And I love her suggested menus. Perfect meal for satisfying one, I must say.

Grocer - the great irony is that I too HATE the frozen ones. My mum, bless 'er, used to serve them so regularly that I developed a severe case of pea-phobia for years. Here, however, they just blend in and become more textural and 'nutritional' than anything else. Glad, I am, to know I'm not alone in my dislike - and yep, fresh, no probs here either. Something happens to them in the deep freeze, methinks.

Hi, Sunita - I see you're clearing out your pantry! Wonderful way to use up what the pantry/freezer holds.

Hi Marie - I'm thrilled that you enjoyed them! Fast, easy, pantry-friendly; they've got it all, I reckon. That Jaffrey book is fabulous - a veritable mine of interesting and delicious meals.

Holler - darls, go and get some besan! You'll love them because they come together so quickly.

Hi, Cookinpanda - what is it about peas? I had three half empty bags in there...and I don't even really like peas. Here, they're grand, though.

Cynthia said...

That sounds like a really tasty pancake! Yum!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

OMG...this sounds so delicious, my mouth is watering! Do you think I could make these for lunch, re-warming them at the office?

Lucy said...

Cynthia - oh, these are Very Good, and best thing is, you can add whatever lurks in the fridge or freezer.

Mari, I reckon you could, though they would lose something of their crispness in the process. If you tak some chutneys and labne, though, I foresee no problems at all.

Carson said...

Forget about depths of the freezer dude, my bag of peas is always right up the front! No shame here :)
My mum always insisted on shelling her own peas fresh, but I'm frozen all the way.

Lucy said...

Carson...spooky. I was just thinking about you...and I agree. Who can be bothered to shell 'em? Maybe once a year...otherwise, frozen is MORE than fine.

Susan said...

No need to be embarrassed; I am known to love some recipes to death, myself. ;} And since besan *is* a long-term resident of my pantry, I will be exhausting myself w/ multiple mixings of batter sooner rather than later.

Thanks for the recipe, Lucy. That tamarillo is adorable. I've never had one. Prized, indeed, and not to be confused with tomatillo (which is exactly what I did when I first read through this post).

Katie said...

Yum! Those sounds wonderful.

Great blog!