Friday, February 22, 2008

Malpua anyone?

When the going gets tough, the tough make malpuas.

We had a snow storm last night and the kids had a snow day today from school, so I made malpuas for a post sledding and snowboarding treat.

Malpuas are fritters that are doughnut like treats that are oh so good.... They can range in shape from flattened pancakes to rounded little orbs of golden brown goodness. In doing my due diligence and conducting some informal and very unscientific research for this post, I found that there are many, many regional varieties of malpuas, including a savory style from the state of Gujarat. I am Bengali so I believe these are the Bihari style made with bananas and anise flavoring. Instead of serving them with the traditional sugar syrup, I added my own twist and sprinkled them with powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar. Enjoy!


1 cup maida (all purpose flour)
1/2 cup suji (cream of wheat - not the quick cooking kind)
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp anise seed, crushed into a powder*
1 to 1-1/2 very ripe bananas, mashed
milk - about 1 cup
oil for frying
powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar

Makes about 24 malpuas

1. Mix the all purpose flour, cream of wheat, sugar, and anise seed.
2. Add banana and then add milk very slowly in 1/4 cup increments until a thick batter forms. It should be like a thick cake batter. Allow batter to rest for 20 minutes to half an hour. If the texture is more like a dough than a batter, then add small amount of milk and stir in until it is a thick batter.
3. Heat oil for deep frying in a deep fryer, wok, or saucepan. If you are using a saucepan, do not fill it more than half full. Test the heat of the oil by dropping in a bit of batter. If it browns righ away, it's ready.
4. Drop by full tablespoons into hot oil, turn to brown both sides, remove immediately and drain on paper towels.
5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Tips: Each malpua should be about the size of a golf ball. If they are any bigger then the middles might be undercooked. Also, this batter can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. If it has thickened, stir in a bit of milk and stir until the texture is right.

Note: For those malpua purists out there, replace the anise with cardamom for an alternative flavor. The traditional way of serving these is with a sugar syrup (made of equal parts sugar and water dissolved over medium heat) sometimes flavored with a few saffron threads and some slivered almonds or pistachios. I used powdered sugar because I like it better. I used 2% milk because that's what we had.

I didn't have anise and wasn't in the mood for cardamom, so I poured a shot of sambuca. Then I poured another shot of sambuca into the batter. Ok, just kidding about the first part. I'm not a fan of sambuca shots. Anyway, the sambuca lent a very delicate anise flavor so they were tasty without being overwhelming. And, no, mom, the kids weren't buzzed afterward. The alcohol evaporates right away upon cooking.

For gluten-free readers, my mom said that there is a version of this treat made after the harvest entirely out of rice flour and rice cereal. If anyone tries, this variation, please post and let me know how they turn out!

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