Thursday, December 06, 2018

Bajri Pearl Millet Pancakes


The last week, I have been desperately trying to stay off carbs in my diet. Not an easy feat for aluseddho-bhaat loving Bengalis.

But I have been eating like a glutton and wanted to give the whole digestive system, a short break between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Add to that my recent woeful experience while clothes shopping in Kolkata.

I love going to stores like Pantaloons, Biba or Big Bazaar back home. Being used to departmental stores in the West, where store assistants hardly pay a glance, careful not to intrude my privacy by suggesting any opinion unless clearly asked for,  the overload of shopping assistants in the stores at the Kolkata Mall, makes me feel very special.

They are always asking "Madam, ki chai?";then suggesting designs that they profess will look good on me; if I am throwing a tantrum that nothing matches they are eager to hunt down the right color leggings for my Kurta. In general they are pretty good people, showering attention as if I am buying a 900 rupees kurta for the royal wedding.

But with every pro, comes a con. And in this case there is plenty. One of them, of course is the intrusion which I am now old enough to take in stride. I have bidden enough time standing in long queues for the public bus in my college days, with Aunties suggesting all kind of skin and hair care routine. From staying off "oily food" to some Baba's miracle ointment, I have heard it all. That has toughened my self confidence.

So we will not talk about intrusion. Instead I would like to ponder upon why size of clothes in Indian stores is a variable. It is not a constant and is always shifting. What is a M today is not a M tomorrow in the same brand. What used to be an XL is now non-existent.. Folks in Kolkata are slimming down at an alarming rate so that size S is becoming a smaller size every year.

Until 2017, I was a size M with Kurtas that I bought in India. With most US brands, I can still get into a size S! But this time back in Kolkata, I could barely breathe in even M sized Kurtas.

At the Big Bazaar, which is close to my parent's home, and so a favorite haunt, I asked one of the young nymph like store assistants, "Are you guys just becoming more thin, or why does a M not fit me anymore?"

The young girl gave me a once over and without a smile said, "Didi, try a L, that will fit you!"

And of course it did. But that is when I made up my mind to stay off carbs for a week. But only after I had polished off all the Norom paak mishti and Nolen Gur er Ice cream of course!!!

Bajri Flour or Pearl Millet flour is a very common flour in some regions of India. It is high in complex carbohydrates and a rich source of protein and dietary fiber. I therefore cheerfully bought a small pack of Bajri flour while planning the low-carb week's menu. 

However I have never had Bajri flour while growing up and I doubt if my Mother has used it even once. All I knew is this nutty coarse flour is used to make a type of thick flat bread called Bakhri, which I was not keen to make. My neighbor then suggested making a Chilla with bajri flour as it is easier to make than a Bakhri.

I took it a step further, added eggs, spices, onion, green chilies and made savory crepes instead. I had these crepes with a ground chicken keema and avocados. I really loved the robust flavor of the crepes. The kids thought it was "meh" but then they are kids, so we will ignore them. For now, I am hooked to Bajri Crepes!!!




In one wide mouthed bowl put

1 Cup of  Bajri Flour
2 eggs
pinch of salt

1 Cup of Milk
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp of Oil

Make a smooth batter. Batter should be thinner than pancake batter.

Now, for savory crepes to the above batter add

finely chopped onions(half of a small onion)
finely chopped green chillies(3 green chili)
a pinch of Ajwain seeds
1/2 tsp of Dried Mint or some fresh chopped coriander

For sweet crepes skip the onion, chili and spices. Add a little sugar to the batter and maybe a few drops of vanilla.

Now put a non-stick tawa or griddle on the stove. Grease it lightly. You can just rub it with a stick of butter or use few drops of oil.

Pour 1/4th cup of batter in the center of the pan and then swirl it around to make a round. This step is similar to that of a pancake or utthapam.

Cook almost 3 minutes to a side or until you see the edges turning golden curling up. By now it should be easy to slid a spatula under it.

Flip and cook the other side for 2-3 more minute. You will see brown spots on the surface.

Gently take it out on a plate and continue with the next.

You can eat the crepes just like that or add your favorite filling




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