Patishapta is a staple during the winter harvest season in my home state of West Bengal in India. The entire state celebrates the harvest by cooking a variety of dishes that showcase the season's bounty. One of the ways in which we celebrate is by making lots of sweet dishes using the freshly harvested date palm jaggery. Every home whips up lots of these desserts and then follows a round of visiting friends and family and sharing and exchanging of these sweets. You get to eat a LOT of good food during this time!
Since I didn't have access to this fresh jaggery, I came up with the idea of making the date syrup, which is probably its closest substitute. Making the soft crepe blanketed around the aromatic coconut filling and drizzled with the warm syrup is a wonderful way for me to keep the celebration alive, even though I am far, far away from home! —Madhuja
Test Kitchen Notes
Madhuja’s crepes are absolutely fantastic. They are tender delicate things, but with a crisp edge from the coconut oil, and the perfect whisper of cardamom to carry you east. Each step is easy as can be, and broken out very clearly in the directions. The coconut filling has a perfect level of sweetness, though the crepes are delicious without it if you have non-coconut eaters in your midst. The syrup – well, that date syrup is nothing short of magical. I would happily eat the entire batch had I no shame and a better metabolism. As it was, I shared with neighbors ages 2 to 38 and all gave rave reviews. —aargersi
Let's make the syrup first! Add the dates and 2 cups of hot water to a glass bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Now pour the mixture in a food processor and add the rest of the 2 cups of hot water. Blend until the mixture is very, very smooth.
Line a strainer with cheese cloth and strain the date pulp through it. You will have to twist the cheese cloth around the pulp to get most of the liquid out. You should have about 2 cups of liquid after the straining.
Pour the 2 cups of liquid into a small pot, add 1/8 teaspoon of salt and on medium heat, reduce it until it is about 1/2 cup. Set aside.
Let's make the filling now! On medium heat, toast the coconut in a small pan until they turn a light golden brown. Add the sugar, cardamom powder, pinch of salt and the milk and cook it until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture starts getting sticky. Set aside.
it's time for the crepes! Add the all purpose flour, rice flour, semolina, sugar, salt and cardamom powder in a bowl and mix well with a whisk. Gradually add in the milk and mix gently to make sure there are no lumps.
Heat a non-stick saute pan with a teaspoon of coconut oil on medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of the crepe batter in the middle of the pan (don't swirl it!). It should spread to about 5 inches in diameter by itself. Cook the first side until it gets light golden brown in color (about 2 minutes) and then flip and cook the other side for about a minute or so.
Once the crepe is done cooking, flip it so that the side that cooked second is facing you. Take a tablespoon of the coconut filling and spread it down the middle. Now fold one side of the crepe and press it down for a second, and then fold the other side and press it down for another second (think of folding a letter).
Repeat with the rest of the batter. Serve warm, drizzled with the date syrup slightly warmed up.