Street-Side Rice Crepes, Myitkyina Style

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes About 12 Crepes; Serves

    4

Appears in

These beautiful crepes (called yei mont in central Burma and mok ghieh-ba in Kachin State) are made at markets all over Burma. They are close first cousins of dosa, the crepe-like flatbread of southern India, but like other dishes in Burma that probably originated in the Indian subcontinent, they have taken on a distinctive identity.

The batter is made of rice flour and unlike dosa batter, it is not fermented, instead whisked up just before it’s needed. The crepes are cooked on one side only, in a very lightly oiled skillet. They are sprinkled with a little oil as they cook and then topped with an eclectic, attractive mixture of textures and flavors: finely chopped tomato (the vendors use scissors to cut off thin wedges), minced scallions, coriander, a scattering of cooked chickpeas or cowpeas, minced green chile, and often strips of fresh coconut. The crepe is folded over the toppings and served as a half-moon, sometimes accompanied by a dipping sauce, such as red chile chutney.

Cooking these takes practice, as any crepes do, so you may have to discard the first one or two. You will need a well-seasoned cast-iron or other heavy skillet 7 or 8 inches in diameter (it’s more difficult to heat a larger pan evenly). It’s useful to have a pastry or other brush for dabbing a little oil on the breads as they cook.

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Ingredients

Batter

  • ¾ cup rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • cups lukewarm water
  • Scant 1 teaspoon minced ginger (optional)
  • About ½ cup peanut oil

Toppings (all or Some, as you Please)

Method

Combine the rice flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and whisk in ½ cup lukewarm water until you have a perfectly smooth thick batter. Add the remaining 1 cup water and stir or whisk to incorporate it. (You may think there is a typo in the recipe because the batter is so thin. Don’t worry!) Stir in the ginger, if using.

Place a well-seasoned 7- or 8-inch skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add about 1 tablespoon oil and use a heatproof spatula to spread it over the pan, then wipe away the excess with a paper towel. Quickly stir the batter, then scoop up about 2 tablespoons of it and pour it onto the center of the skillet. Tilt the pan so the batter flows over it. It will move quickly across the pan’s surface, making a lacy pattern; if there are any large gaps, dab on a little extra batter to fill them. Let the crepe cook for about 30 seconds, then brush the center very lightly, barely touching it, with a little oil, or dribble on a few drops of oil. Use your spatula to see if the crepe is starting to crisp at the edges; once it is, drip a few drops of oil under the edges in a couple of spots.

Make this first crepe plain, so that you can get comfortable handling it: fold it in half, flip it over for 15 seconds, and transfer it to a plate.

Repeat with the remaining batter and oil, stirring the batter each time before you start, but with subsequent crepes, sprinkle toppings on one half of the crepe once it has started crisping at the edges: a scant tablespoon each of peas and chopped tomato, a teaspoon each of coriander and scallions, and a pinch of minced green chile as well as a little coconut, if you want. Fold the crepe over the toppings, flip it over for 15 seconds, and use a spatula to transfer it to a serving plate or individual plate; serve hot or warm with a chutney or sauce.

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