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Parsis – The People from Pars — and the Ancient Tradition of Jamshedi Navroze

Niloufer Mavalvala

Niloufer is a cookbook author and cooking instructor with a great passion for food and a love of world travel.

Chaapat — Parsi Sweet Pancake

Chaapat or Parsi crèpes/pancakes are easy to make. Chaapat is pronounced as Cha- puttt and can simply mean “flat.” They are an old favorite from the past, when lots of treats were made from real coconut milk, laced with nuts and little sugar, to enjoy with a cup of tea.  As in most traditional foods, every family had their secret recipe to making their very own version of the same dish. This one is shared from my mother-in-law’s family who were all excellent chefs making traditional Parsi food.

Preparation

  1. For the chapaat: Heat a small 5 inch/13cm skillet and a drop of ghee and pour a ladle of the mixture. Tilt the pan in circles so the mixture spreads around evenly covering the bottom base of the pan. Lower the heat and allow it to cook for a minute until a pale golden brown. Carefully flip it over and cook for another minute. Serve warm.

2. For the crème Anglaise: In a glass measure cup scald the milk. In a heavy bottom pan, stir 8 egg yolks with the sugar. Mix it well with a wooden spoon breaking it all up properly, then add a pinch of salt. Now add the milk slowly to the eggs mixing it vigorously and quickly to emulsify the mixture.

3. Set aside a plastic sieve set over a  glass bowl in a bath of iced water. Against all odds and other norms, cook the mixture on a fairly high heat always remembering to mix it continuously, only until the mixture thickens to coat the back of the wooden spoon. Do not boil. Flavor as desired. To flavor it you have several choices: traditional – add 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of vanilla extract, or add 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla and 5 ml (1 teaspoon) coffee granules, or 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla and 15 ml (1 tablespoon) rum, or 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla and the zest of a lime or lemon.

4. Strain the crème Anglaise immediately. Mix it to stop forming a skin on top or place a cling film over it touching the crème.

Notes:  If you are using vanilla bean, split the bean and remove the pulp, adding it to the milk before heating the infuse it at its best. If not add the vanilla extract at the very end.

Mix and keep the batter for up to 24 hours covered in the fridge if you need to.
If it becomes thick add some milk to bring it to the right consistency.
If it is thinner, refrigerate and wait for an hour or two for it to thicken as the gluten in the flour will help do just that.

If you are not confident of turning the pancake, simply cover the skillet with a lid and cook through. Fold the pancake and serve both sides will show up as a beautiful golden brown!

Delicious delight!

Copra Na Pancake (Parsi Crèpes)

Copra Na Pancake is a favorite Parsi tea-time treat, filled with coconut, dried fruit, and nuts.

Preparation

  1. For the crèpes*: In a bowl beat the eggs until frothy and light.

2. In separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, warm milk, and melted butter until smooth and free of lumps. Add the beaten egg to the mixture and stir to combine. Allow the batter to rest and thicken at room temperature for 30 minutes before making the crèpes.* Meanwhile, prepare the coconut filling.

3. For the coconut filling*: In a large saucepan, combine all filling ingredients. Place over medium-low heat and stir gently until the mixture is softened and well blended. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. For assembly: Lightly brush a nonstick 18 cm (7-inch) crèpe pan or skillet with ghee or clarified butter. Place over high heat until hot. Add a ladleful of batter and swirl the pan to ensure it spreads evenly all over. Lowering the heat, let it cook until a pale golden brown, about 2 minutes. With a flat spatula, carefully flip it over and cook for another minute until golden brown. Allow the pan to reheat before adding new batter, and stack the crepes are they are removed from the pan.*

5. Divide the filling into ten portions. Spread each crèpe with a portion. Fold into quarters and arrange decoratively on a serving plate.

Tips for making the filling:

*Once the crèpes are made they can be frozen for up to 1 month. Frozen crèpes are best for use in baked dishes with sauces, as the consistency changes slightly once frozen. Cool completely before freezing. Stack them with buttered parchment between each one, or simply freeze in batches of 10. To avoid freezer burn be sure to cover tightly with airtight wrap. To thaw, bring each batch to room temperature; place in a warm oven for 10 minutes if you have trouble separating the individual crèpes.

**The filling can be made up to 7 days in advance and kept refrigerated.