Chaapat — Parsi Sweet Pancake
This recipe is featured in Parsis - The People from Pars -- and the Ancient Tradition of Jamshedi Navroze
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.
For the Chaapat:
- 473 ml (2 cups) canned coconut milk
- 200ml (7ounces wt.) sifted all-purpose flour
- 200ml (7ounces wt.) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 7.5 ml (1/2 tablespoon) melted ghee
- 30 grams (1 ounce wt.) almonds, blanched and grated (See Notes)
- 15 grams (1/2 ounce wt.) chopped pistachios
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) cardamom powder
- 1.2 ml (1/4 teaspoon) freshly scraped nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads (see Notes)
For the Crème Anglaise:
- 473 ml (2 cups) milk
- 8 egg yolks
- 125 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
- Choice of flavorings: 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.
Notes: The nuts chosen here are sweet. Substitute with your favorite ones. Macadamia nuts are the closest to these ones. Charoli, commonly found in India and in their larger Indian stores across Canada and the UK is also a great addition to the recipe. Roughly chop the Charoli before adding them.
Crush the saffron threads to help blend into the mixture. If you store the box of saffron in the fridge, it will crisp up and make it easier to crush. Use the tips of your fingers!
If you do not wish to buy ghee, clarified brown butter is just as good. Simply melt and simmer 4 ounces of butter until it separates and changes its color. Use as needed.
- 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!