We’ve made known the benefits of a well-rested pancake batter in the past, but these soft, chewy, syrup-soaked pancakes called malpua tout the benefits of a solid night’s sleep with added good bacteria. Take well-rested, add some warmth and you’re set to ferment.
Pancakes with sugar and lemon will never quite cut it again after you’ve tried these fluffy fennel-infused yoghurt pancakes, soaked in a fragrant saffron-and-cardamom syrup, and topped with pistachios. Popular in the Bengali regions of Bangladesh and India, malpua vary from place to place, but are generally served as a dessert or snack during festivals.
The recipe varies from place to place, and many recipes online are made using baking powder as an ‘easy’ version. The pancakes can be made thin without any rising agent or thick and fluffy. The thicker version is traditionally fermented overnight to lift to the batter.
Malpua is usually served with chopped nuts and often rabri, a sweet, rich blend of boiled milk and cream. Fried in ghee then soaked in syrup was enough to satisfy here without the extra rabri, but do as you please.
For a healthier version, you could also serve the syrup on the side for drizzling.
How to make malpua
Take equal parts flour and yoghurt, add half the amount of sugar or honey and a good sprinkling of fennel seeds.
I used 1 cup flour, 1 cup yoghurt, ½ cup sugar, ½ tsp fennel seed, guided by this recipe.
Mix in a bowl and add enough water to form a loose batter. A little thinner than pancake mix, but really it’s up to you here if you would like them to be thinner like a crepe, add more water and vice versa. I recommend somewhere between a crepe and pancake batter.
Cover and leave at room temperature overnight til you see small bubbles forming (don’t need too many). If it’s bubbling and you’re not ready to eat just store the batter in the fridge.
Just before you start frying, make a sugar syrup with a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, a splash of rosewater and optionally a pinch of saffron. Reduce by about ⅓ til slightly thickened. Turn off the heat.
Fry malpua in a good amount of ghee then from the pan pop them straight into the sugar syrup while the next batch fries.
Serve hot to fully enjoy the syrupy soft middles and crispy edges.
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