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Savory Mung Bean Pancakes (Pesarattu)

by Suneeta Vaswani

Makes 8 to10

South Indian “tiffin” is famous throughout India. It consists of breakfast and snack foods made with an assortment of lentil-and-rice batters. This pancake is special because it is the only one made with an unhusked bean, giving it a unique flavor.

1 cup     split green mung beans (chilkewali    250 mL
mung dal)
1⁄4 cup   long-grain white rice (see Tips, left) 50 mL
2 tbsp    chopped green chiles, preferably serranos  25 mL
1 cup     finely chopped onion    250 mL
1    small potato, boiled, peeled and mashed    1
1⁄2 cup   cilantro leaves and soft stems, chopped    125 mL
2 tsp     minced peeled gingerroot, optional    10 mL
1 tsp     salt or to taste   5 mL
1⁄4 tsp   asafetida (hing)   1 mL
1⁄4 cup   oil (approx.) 50 mL


1.   Clean and pick through beans for any small stones and grit.
Rinse several times in cold water until water is fairly clear. Soak beans and rice in 2 cups (500 mL) water at room temperature for 45 minutes or for up to 3 hours. Drain well. Add to a food processor and process coarsely. Transfer to a bowl. Add chiles, onion, mashed potato, cilantro, ginger, if using, salt and asafetida and mix well. Add 3⁄4 cup (175 mL) water, adding just enough to make a batter slightly thicker than pancake batter.

2.   Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water flicked on it sizzles. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) of the oil and tilt skillet to spread oil. Ladle 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) batter into center and spread quickly with back of ladle to form a pancake about 1⁄4 inch (0.5) thick. Make a hole in the center. Spoon 1 tsp (5 mL) of the oil in the center and some around edges. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Continue with remaining batter and oil.

3.   Serve with a chutney or Indian pickle of your choice.

Any long-grain rice is fine in this recipe except basmati, which has a lower starch content. Here you need more starch to act as a binder.

To serve as finger food, make 2-inch (5 cm) pancakes and serve with a dollop of chutney on top.

Recipes reprinted with permission from Complete Book of Indian Cooking, by Suneeta Vaswani, Robert Rose Inc., 2007.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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