Thursday, June 30, 2016

Crepes Stuffed with Yellow Alu and Served with Sambhar

Masala 'Dosa' with Sambhar
We are so fortunate in North America to have foods from all over the world available to us in our local supermarkets. It's a delight to walk up and down the aisles to pick and choose what we'd like to have today or this week.

Melissa's French Crepes
These delicate, faintly sweet crepes come ten to a package, each separated from the next by wax paper which makes them very easy to roll with filling of my choice. They are versatile and sets my mind racing with ideas such as Crepes Suzette, a French dessert in which crepes are folded in triangles and doused in a sauce of caramelized sugar and butter, orange zest and Grand Marnier or orange Curacao liqueur, served flambé. Then there's Patishapta, a popular Bengali dessert of thin crepes stuffed with a delectable filling of coconut and gur or jaggery. 

The Crepe
The crepes are so thin that light shines through them and have to be handled very gently.

Yellow Alu
This bright yellow potato or alu was a childhood favourite. The help would arrive at 6 a.m. to prepare breakfast for us. She'd make this yellow alu which comprised diced russet potatoes stir-fried with a tempering of nigella seeds and minced green chillies, diced onions and ginger, simmered with a touch of turmeric until the potatoes were cooked, then garnished with cilantro or curry leaves. These soft and mushy potatoes would be rolled in hot hand-made tortillas, accompanied by a mug (not cup) of piping-hot Darjeeling tea. My heart aches for those days when my only worry was to make sure my homework was done!

Filling for Crepe
The filling must be allowed to come to room temperate before rolling the crepes which tear very easily. And it's better to serve more potatoes on the side than to over-fill the crepes.

Sambhar on the Side
These crepes are meant to mimic Masala Dosa, an Indian rice and lentil crepe that is stuffed with spicy potatoes. It is served at breakfast and when accompanied by lentils or Sambhar, is perfect for lunch as well. The lentils are cooked with a variety of vegetables and tomatoes, and flavoured with a unique and distinctive blend of spices called Sambhar Masala.

1 pkg. of 10 French Crepes
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 Tbsp. olive or other oil
1/2 tsp. hing (asafoetida) powder 
1/2 tsp. nigella (kalonji) seeds
2 green chilies, minced
12-14 curry leaves
2 large onions, diced
1 tsp. minced ginger or paste
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 cup simmering water
salt to taste
1 tsp. ghee

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat and sputter hing, nigella seeds and chilies.
  2. Add curry leaves, turmeric, onions and ginger and stir-fry until onions are translucent.
  3. Add potatoes, stir well and lower heat to medium-low.
  4. Add simmering water, cover and cook until potatoes are soft and mushy.
  5. Adjust salt to taste, garnish with ghee, stir well and transfer to serving dish.
Use to stuff the crepes and serve with sambhar. These potatoes also taste great with tortillas and steamed rice.

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