Mini-Crepes in Syrup

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Like jalebis, these small crepes, called malpuas, are made from a flour and yogurt batter. Let the batter sit for six to eight hours (or up to twenty-four hours, if you prefer) to ferment and get airy. After they are cooked in a skillet, the crepes, like jalebis, are bathed in a light sugar syrup. Malpuas are found in various versions across northern India, from Bengal to Gujarat. Unlike jalebis, they are flavored, usually with cardamom and perhaps a little fennel (as we do here); black pepper is another option. Two or three make an elegant and delicious dessert, accompanied by fresh heavy cream, or slices of fruit, or a scoop of sorbet or ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain (full- or reduced-fat) yogurt
  • About ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground fennel
  • Seeds from 2 green cardamom pods, ground (about teaspoon)
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ghee, butter, or vegetable oil

Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Optional Topping

  • About ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds or chopped toasted pistachios

Method

Mix together the flour and yogurt in a bowl. Add enough water to make a pourable loose batter, the texture of a crepe batter (the amount will depend on the thickness of your yogurt). Stir in the sugar, fennel, and cardamom. Set aside, covered, to ferment for 6 to 8 hours, or as long as 24 hours. (If you are leaving it for longer than 6 hours, refrigerate the batter, well covered, until an hour before you wish to use it.)

About an hour before you wish to serve the malpuas, make the syrup: Place the sugar in a wide pot, add the water, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to very low to keep the syrup warm.

Stir the salt into the batter and add a little more water if necessary to make the batter flow well. Put out two spatulas.

Place a wide heavy skillet over medium-high heat. (If you have two heavy pans, use both, to make the cooking go more quickly.) Add about 2 teaspoons ghee, butter, or oil to the pan and spread over the surface to grease it well. Stir the batter, then scoop up 1 tablespoon of it and pour it into the pan. Use the back of your spoon to lightly smooth it out to a round crepe 3 to 4 inches in diameter. If your pan is 12 inches in diameter, you will be able to fit at least one and probably two more crepes in the pan.

The crepes should first sizzle gently, as bubbles start to come up through them, and then in just over a minute the edges will start to brown and lift off the pan. As soon as they do, turn the crepes over and cook on the second side until nicely browned. One at a time, lift the crepes out and place in the pan of syrup. Use the second spatula to immediately turn each one over in the syrup and then transfer the crepe to a serving plate or platter. Repeat with the remaining batter, regreasing the pan(s) occasionally between batches.

Drizzle a little more syrup onto the crepes, then, if you wish, sprinkle on a scattering of nuts.

Serve for dessert with a little fresh cream or a tart sorbet. You can also serve these for breakfast or brunch, perhaps with fresh fruit on the side.