The Healthy Warmth
Winters are here! Yes, happy people; this means a pleasant nip in the air, the smell of freshly growing produce, also, the warmth of all things delicious. In Pune, where I grew up, the winters were not SO severe, but it was nonetheless cold, fairly cold (regular temperatures fluctuating between 14 to 16 degrees), but, like all mothers, my mom believed she had to stuff me with cod liver oil and tons of nuts and things that keep you warm internally. In her defence though, I was a rather skinny kid, quite susceptible to catching a cold and more such irritable infections. So, her being overly concerned can be justified.
Anyway, in the whole basket of heat inducing and immunity building food routine, always featured the dreaded ‘dink laddoo’. What on earth is this cartoon show sounding food item you may ask. Well, it’s not as fun as it sounds, it is a laddoo, which has nuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coconut, sugar and the ingredient that gives it the comic name, edible gum or dink. Now, I do know of a lot of people who like this particular laddoo, but I abhor it (no offense to the connoisseurs). Because the gum sticks to your teeth and after eating it, it leaves a kind of arid taste on your tongue. Every single time my mom came towards me with one of these, my expression was akin to that of Jerry’s whenever he was on the receiving end of Tom’s hungry stare. Needless to say, I used to throw a tantrum, but in the end, of course, the superpower (It’s my mom I’m referring to here) would hail victorious and I would play the part of the conquered.
Over the years, getting tired of my defiance and the entire drama that surrounded the ceremony of eating the ‘dink laddoo’, my mom took a step back from trying to force feed me the horror. Of course, by that time, I had started college and was barely there at home and later moved to another city (so chasing after me with a laddoo that cost 3 bucks, just wasn’t worth it). Alas, staying away from home also meant feeling homesick at times and every winter, remembering all those days when my mom chased me with the laddoo in hand (sniff, sniff, boo hoo ☹).
Okay, before you start shedding those sympathy tears, I’ll just let you in on a fun fact. I had only moved to Mumbai (which is just 2 ½ hours from Pune), and Mumbai winters are a far cry from even the W of winter. So yeah, if that story made you feel sorry for me, what can I say, I am just that good a writer! But that said, the fact that it was winter, kept egging me on to cook and try more and more delicious recipes, that in one way or the other embrace the spirit of the glory that winter is.
Thus, rose the masterpiece that I call Warm Decadence. It’s a baked pancake stuffed with all things that I love; dried fruits, dates, brown sugar and coconut; coupled with a luscious ginger custard. That’s winter right on your plate! Full of all things good for you that give you the warmth and feel of winters, and definitely without the sticky ‘dink’. It did result as an ode to the ‘dink laddoo’ which I couldn’t stand, but, I’m sure the makers of the laddoo would be proud of me, because it has all the goodness of the laddoo and incorporates additional and modern, as well as, age old ingredients, that don’t just make the humble (and gummy) laddoo more palpable, but also retain the good old health benefits and goodness of the gum loaded laddoo.
So here goes, the full blown Warm Decadence!
For the Pancake Mix
Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
White butter – 3tbsp
Egg – 1nos
Olive oil – 3tbsp
Salt – 1tsp
Baking soda – 1tsp
Water – to bind the dough
For the Pancake Filling
Arabic dates (deseeded) – 10 to 12nos
Cashews – 7 to 10nos
Raisins – 5 to 7nos
Almonds – 7 to 10nos
Pistachios – 6 to 8nos
Walnuts – 6 to 8nos
Grated coconut – 2tbsp
Poppy seeds – 1 tsp
Sesame seeds – 2tsp
Butter (melted) – 1tbsp
For the custard
Egg yolks – 2nos
Cream – 150ml
Milk – 50ml
Grated fresh ginger – 1tbsp
Sugar – 50gms
Cinnamon powder – ½tsp
For the Pancake Base
- Mix all the ingredients together and make a very pliable dough. Add water as required to make the dough as shown in the picture. It needs to be stretchable so you can get a really thin coating.
- Cling film the dough, and set in the refrigerator for 30 mins to an hour.
For the Filling
- Roast all the ingredients except the dates.
- In a mixer, add the dates and the roasted ingredients and blitz, until combined.
- Take it out of the mixer, add the butter and combine. Set aside.
- To bring it all together, take a small ball of the pancake mix, dust the surface, and roll it as thin as you can (0.5cms ideally).
- Repeat the procedure for another one.
- Now, take one of the rolled out pancakes, and spread the filling evenly, all over it.
- Next, lay the other rolled out pancake and use it as a top cover for the filling.
- Pinch the edges with a fork, to seal it.
- Brush the baking tin and the pancake with butter.
- Prick it with a fork, so it doesn’t rise.
- In a pre-heated oven, bake at 160 degrees for about 25 mins, or until both sides of the pancake are nice and golden brown.
For the custard
While the pancake is baking, Prepare the custard.
- First up, add the grated ginger to a pan, and turn on the heat. Make sure the ginger is washed and clean, or it will end up splitting the milk and you don’t want that.
- Next, add the milk and spice to pan, and let it come up to a boil at a very low heat and simmer at the same temperature for at least 10 minutes.
- Now, in a thick bottomed pan, add the cream, and on a very low temperature let it come close to a boil.
- After you put the cream on the gas, and wait for it to come to the desired temperature, on the side, cream the eggs and sugar until light yellow.
- Once both the above mentioned tasks are achieved, combine the milk and ginger mixture with the cream and turn off the flame.
- Mix well.
- Into the egg mixture, add a ladle of the cream mix to the eggs and stir vigorously.
- Add the creamed egg mixture to the rest of the cream and cook whisking continuously, on a low heat for about 5 mins.
- Turn off the flame and strain the mixture to get a smooth custard.
Bringing it together
- Once the pancakes are done, bring them out and transfer them into a serving dish.
- Cut them into 6 to 8 pieces (I am not very particular about the shape of these pieces).
- Now, douse this with a generous helping of the warm custard.
- Serve! Yummy!
- You can make the pancake dough more nutritious by adding various super grains like moringa, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds etc. to them.
- If you are vegetarian, make a slurry of rice flour and warm water (1:4 ratio) and add the sugar and beat it, to substitute the eggs.
- Use whatever dried fruits you have at your disposal, though the dates are a key ingredient.
- If you can’t find Arabic dates, use regular dates and soak them in hot water for 15 minutes and deseed them.
So, there you go, a hot favourite evolved from an absolutely not so favourite memory. But trust me. The recipe may seem long, and the story might make you wonder; What the dink? But once you have a spoonful of this, it all seems like a bridge over winter waters! So, follow me, on Facebook and Instagram. What to do, social media rules! But keep following my blogs for the real thing. You will love it, your kids will love it, and they will always cherish these memories wherever they go!