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  • Moong Daal ka Chilla (Savory Lentil Crepes)

    Moong Daal ka Chilla (Savory Lentil Crepes)

    Chilla, a savory filled crêpe, is an Indian breakfast food that also serves as an easy supper. In India, you can get the crêpes from roadside stands; my mother made them for us as a Sunday morning treat. The crêpes are made from moong daal, a split, skinned mung bean sometimes called “split green gram.” The crêpe batter is flavored with cilantro, chiles, onions, and coconut, cooked in a large nonstick pan, and then stuffed with paneer bhurjee—Indian cheese spiked with onion, tomato, and savory Indian spices. If you have any bhurjee left over, spoon it on toast or flatbread, use it to make Indian grilled cheese sandwiches or as a quesadilla filling, or serve simply with mozzarella cheese.

    Servings & Time

    • Servings 8 crepes, serving 4
    • Prep 45 minutes, plus 2 hours soaking
    • Cook 10 minutes per crepe

    Ingredients

    For the Paneer Bhurjee
    • 1 tablespoon canola oil
    • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
    • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
    • 1 green serrano chile pepper, finely chopped
    • ½ teaspoon garam masala
    • ½ teaspoon kastoori methi, crushed
    • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup grated paneer
    For the Crêpes
    • 1 ¼ cups split green gram (moong daal), soaked in water for 2 hours
    • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
    • 2 green serrano chile peppers, finely chopped
    • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon fresh or frozen coconut, grated
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • ½ teaspoon red chile powder
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
    • Salt
    • Vegetable oil for cooking the crepes

    Method

    For the Paneer Bhurjee

    Heat the oil in a small, heavy nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger-garlic paste, and cumin and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

    Add the tomato and chile and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and pulpy, about 5 minutes. Add the garam masala, kastoori methi, turmeric, salt, and about ¼ cup water and stir until all the masalas are well combined.

    Add the grated paneer and cook for 5 minutes until the paneer blends into the masala.

    The bhurjee can be made ahead to this point, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

    For the Crêpes

    Drain the green gram, transfer to a blender and blend, adding about ¾ cup water to make a smooth pancake batter. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the ginger, chiles, cilantro, coconut, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and salt to taste.

    Whip with a ladle for 2 to 3 minutes to make a semi-thick batter.

    Heat about 2 teaspoons canola oil the in small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Ladle about ¼ cup of the batter on the bottom of the pan and swirl with the ladle to make a fairly thick pancake. Cook, adding a little oil around the sides of the pancake if it looks dry, until the bottom is very nicely browned and the top is starting to look cooked, about 5 minutes.

    Spoon about 2 tablespoons paneer bhurjee on one side of the crêpe, spread evenly, and cook for a minute or so more. Fold the other side of the crêpe over like an omelet, pressing down with a ladle or spatula for a few seconds to hold the crêpe together.

    Serve hot. Repeat to make 8 filled crêpes.

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