Crepes are famous all over the world for their texture, taste and for their varieties. A sweet crepe swimming in chocolate sauce with a cherry on top is the image that comes to my mind when I think of crepes. Though I did not visit France until I joined University in the late 1990's, I ate crepes almost everyday at home.
Am I confusing you? Let me explain. India is diverse not only for the religion and languages, but also for food. Different cuisines are famous in every region. While Naan breads or Parathas are famous in North India, the South Indian breakfast is a mouthwatering array of savory crepes served with colorful dips (chutneys) and a spicy lentil soup (Sambhar). Such a hot breakfast can warm up the insides as well as giving the energy to start the day fresh. As a native of a small town near Madras, India, in Southern India, it is my delight to share with you some of my favorite crepe recipes.
What makes these crepes (known as dosas) so special is that that they are gluten free, easily digested and are a staple food. Most homes in South India will have this crepe batter made every week by fermentation process, ready to be made into crepes for a quick dinner or breakfast.
Creativity has no limits when it comes to these savory crepes. The restaurants in India and the Indian restaurants in USA can make dosas that are a foot long!
Having the dosa batter at home is a blessing in disguise as it can be quickly converted into anything. The only challenge is waiting hungrily while the batter ferments! To introduce you to the crepes I most enjoy, I will provide two recipes, one that is traditional and takes at least 12-14 hours fermentation time and another, quick savory crepe made with semolina flour.
Mix Semolina flour, Salt, rice flour and all purpose flour together. Add water and mix them well without any lumps. The batter should not be thick like a pancake batter but thinner than a pancake batter and thicker than butter milk in consistency. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
Finely chop the green chilies and cilantro. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add the chopped chilies and stir fry for a minute. Transfer the contents to the bowl with the flours. Mix them well into the batter. If you need onions in crepes, slightly fry the onions in the same pan till golden brown in color and keep the onions aside. Do not mix onions with the batter.
How to Make Crepes:
The important point to note is that before making each crepe, this batter has to be mixed well with a ladle as the flour will sit at the base of the bowl and water on top. Heat a thick bottom crepe pan. Once the pan is hot, slightly reduce the flame.
Do not pour a ladle of the batter and spread it. Instead, sprinkle the batter all over like connecting dots to make a pattern.
The best part is that the crepe will be crispy this way and any shape can be made with such a batter spreading pattern. Kids will love the flower or star shaped crepes that are crunchy and crispy!
Sprinkle some sesame oil on top of the crepes. Wait till one side turns golden brown. Flip them to the other side. Serve hot with any chutneys.
Adding Vegetables: The fried onions can be added to the crepe once the batter is sprinkled into a desired shape on the pan.
Note: For a variation, try adding Millet flour instead of rice flour. That would make another variety of savory crepes.
To learn how to make the traditional dosa recipe, click on the link below.