See this link of Images of Ramadan in the Boston.com for a humbling experience to make you thankful for every single blessing you have received whether it's good health or prosperity or a warm home or just food on the table. It's beautiful to see the variations and commonality of the different people observing the fasts.
I have been busy with exams and a bathroom renovation so haven't got the time recently to blog as many Ramadan food as I would have liked to. The one full bath in the house is now demolished and is a pile of ceramic and dust and its the hope of two shiny new bathrooms that keeps us going.
When I sit on the computer, there is a constant cacophony of construction noises upstairs and I wonder whether the ceiling will fall on us with the guys banging away carelessly. The ceiling even got a couple of small holes and a bolt poking through!! When the emphasis is how to get rid of the dust that seems to be everywhere now, selecting tiles and colors and whose house do we go to for today's shower, cooking tends to take a back seat. Even my dreams have tile patterns on them now.:)
So I am posting a traditional recipe which was made sometime back and which was not posted earlier as I didn't have a cut photo for it.. it got served and finished before I could get the camera.
Chattipathiri, the original crepe cake made at a time when wood burning stoves were more common than ovens and baking powder. It's an unleavened cake made by layers of chapathis or rotis(similar to tortillas) interspersed with eggs, nuts and raisins, all submerged in a egg and milk custard which binds it together when baked. Decadent and definitely not healthy but so yum that you have to have it at the end of a fasting day..and on Eid and on festivals, and at salakarams, and on any special day..It just makes the day special just like having a cake center table makes you ask, "what's the occassion?"
It's similar to the Arab dessert Umm Ali and creamier cousin of bread pudding.
Chattipathiri is the epitome of Malabar cooking and making a good one is an art as well as matter or pride. It should have been on my blog a long time ago but I hesitated as this is definitely not a beginner recipe and needs experience to get it just perfect each time. There are so many things that can go wrong with the preparation and I am no expert to resolve all the issues. So try it and give me the feedback and if there are experts out there, send me pointers that I can add to this recipe.
Chapathis ready for layering...
Layering in a baking dish..
You Will Need:
For the chapathis( 6-7 layers):
All purpose flour-2 cup
Salt -a pinch
Water as needed to make dough.
For the filling:
Ghee +Oil-1/4 cup Ghee+1/2 cup oil.
Poppy seeds/Khus Khus-1 tablespoon
Cardamom-8 crushed into powder
1.Make the dough for the chapathis by mixing the water and flour and salt. The dough should be soft and pliable. Divide it into lemon sized balls and roll out the chapathis thinly. Heat a griddle/tawa and cook each chapathi on it. Cook each side for a couple of minutes on medium high heat. This is dry cooking and after each side turns opaque, it will start puffing up. At that stage, its cooked and the raw taste will have gone. A lot of people replace these chapathis here with ready made tortillas or chapathis but the final taste will then vary. The tortillas are slightly leavened so has a little too much thickness and the chapathis ready to buy are made of whole wheat so the texture changes. But you could start with those for ease of cooking. It still does taste good. Keep all the chapathis cooked and ready.
2. Egg Filling: Beat 2 of the eggs slightly with the 2 tablespoon sugar till the sugar dissolves and then add 1/4 tsp cardamom powder to it. Heat enough oil/ghee mix to scramble it lightly on medium heat till it form small clumps. Keep stirring while scrambling to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Keep the mix aside.
3. Cashew filling: Heat 1/2 tsp of ghee/oil mix and roast the cashews, raisins and the khus khus in that order. Keep the heat low to avoid burning the cashews and the tiny khus khus. Just roast till a nice aroma comes through and remove from flame. Keep aside. You could add almonds also to this mix.
4. Now beat the rest of the eggs, milk and sugar and cardamom powder together with a whisk nicely. This is the custard base.
5. Assembling: Take a round baking dish which is the same size as the chapathi. Brush the base and sides of the dish with the ghee/oil mix. Dip a chapathi in the egg-milk custard and place it in the baking dish. Sprinkle some of the scrambled egg filling and the cashew filling all over it. Pour one teaspoon (or maybe 2 tsp) of the ghee/oil mix all over it. Place the next chapathi dipped in the egg-milk custard and repeat the process. When the last chapathi is placed, decorate the egg and cashews over it as this is the top of our cake. The egg and cashew filling should be distributed evenly amongst all the layers. Pour the remaining egg-milk custard over the layers, pressing down on the layers so that it absorbs the mix fully. Keep this aside for 15 minutes in the fridge to allow the chapathis to soak the liquid in completely.
6. Preheat the oven to 300 degree Fahrenheits. When you are ready to bake, pour the remaining ghee/oil mix over the layers and place in the middle rack in the oven.
Ideally this is cooked in a special cast iron or copper/bronze wide rimmed vessel. It is covered and cooked on a wood burning stove, with heat applied to it from the top by placing burning/smoldering coconut shells. That ensures even cooking from the top and bottom and the cake comes out in densely packed layers.
Cooking it in the oven here, the center rises prematurely leading to the custard running to the sides and then the custard cooks in that position, with the center layers devoid of too much of the custard. When it cools down, the center does flop back down and the layers merge, but still this is not perfect section of the cake. So there is this minor problem with the technique here but it doesn't alter the taste.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes, depending on the heat in your oven. Similar to cake, when it is cooked completely, a needle/knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Leave it uncovered and let it cool down completely before cutting. It only stays in the refrigerator and is good for 2-3 days at the most. A few seconds in the microwave just before serving will remove the frostiness of the refrigerator.