Great for brunch or dinner, this wholesome, hearty, multi-grain pancake embodies the principles of sound nutrition by combining a variety of high fiber whole grains with vitamin A, iron and vitamin C from spinach, vitamin A from the in-season, vibrant, butternut squash that is so abundant at this time of the year, and a host of antioxidants. Sesame seeds add a pleasing appearance as well as healthy, mono-unsaturated fats to boot. Fresh radishes and the yogurt in the accompanying “raita” perfectly complement the spicy pancakes by cooling the palate. The recipe uses a scant 1/4 tsp of peanut oil per pancake, so dig in and enjoy!
This recipe is a spin-off on the traditional “thaalipeeth“, a specialty dish that hails from my native state of Maharashtra in India. The original recipe blends a variety of whole grain flours, onions, cilantro and green chilies just like the featured recipe, but I added the spinach and winter squash to kick it up a notch on nutrient content. The recipe conjures up fond memories of my grandmother and mother patting the pancakes with their bare hands, shallow frying in oil on a cast iron pan and then serving piping hot with the inevitable glob of home-made (you read that right !!), home-made butter!! What’s not to love!!!
Step I:For the vegetable stuffing:
3 cups butternut squash chopped into 1-1.5 ” dice
1 cup spinach, chopped
3-4 small, hot green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp peanut oil
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed medium sauce pan.
- Add toasted sesame seeds and stir for a few seconds.
- Add green chilies and ginger and stir for another minute.
- Stir in the chopped butternut squash and sauté for a few minutes
- Add the spinach and salt, and blending thoroughly into the mixture in the pan.
- Add about 1/3 cup water, cover and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for a few more minutes, until the squash is cooked through.
- Mash contents in the saucepan until smooth. (I find an immersion blender useful for this)
- Set aside.
Step II: For the dough:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup ragi ( finger millet flour)
pinch of turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup very finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
Sesame seeds, 2-3 tbsp (as a topping for the pancakes)
- In a large, shallow pan, mix the whole grain flours with all the spices, salt, red onion and cilantro.
- Add the mashed vegetable mixture from Step I, to the flour and spice mixture.
- Start kneading until a soft dough begins to form.
- Note that the moisture from the mashed vegetable mixture may be adequate to bring the dough together, you may need less than a 1/4 cup of water for kneading.
- Divide the dough into approximately 12 sections
- Dough should be pliable. Flatten each section into a round ball.
- Place on an aluminum sheet and pat the ball of dough into a 4″ diameter pancake.
- Make a small hole with a small spoon handle in the center of this pancake. (This will allow the pancake to cook evenly through the center).
- Sprinkle a few sesame seeds on the surface of the pancake.
- Using the back of a spoon, press the sesame seeds into the dough to embed.
Step III: For shallow frying
Peanut oil, 2 tbsp
- Heat a cast iron pan to medium high heat.
- Add a scant 1/4 tsp oil in the center of the pan.
- Slide the pancake from the Aluminum foil on to your hand and place on the drop of oil in the pan, seed-side up.
- Turn down the heat slightly, cover the pan with a lid for about 30-50 seconds.
- Watch for signs of burning, then open the lid, and flip the pancake with a spatula.
- Cover again with the lid and allow to cook for another minute or so.
- Flip again, ensuring that the sesame seeds look somewhat toasted, but not burnt.
- Remove pancake from the pan and keep warm.
- Repeat with the remaining balls of dough. Pancakes may be stacked one over the other.
- Serve hot with radish and cilantro yogurt raita. (Mix 1 cup yogurt with 1/2 cup finely chopped radishes, 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt, or per taste).
Registered Dietitian’s tip: Emerging evidence demonstrates a plethora of benefits from whole grains. In our modern environment of highly processed foods, we often under consume whole grains and consequently miss fiber, which has been identified as a shortfall nutrient by the Dietary Guidelines, with Americans consuming a shockingly low 15 grams out of the recommended 25-38 grams per day. Fiber supplies prebiotics that are “food” for probiotics, or the friendly bacteria in your GI tract. This recipe packs a nutritional punch with fiber from whole grains, protein from the chickpea flour or besan, and probiotics as well as protein from the yogurt. A virtual meal in itself!
Acknowledgement: I would like to thank my aunt, Mrs. Anjali Gupte, a veteran cook and cooking instructor from Mumbai, who brain-stormed with me ways to modify the traditional thaalipeeth by incorporating vegetables as I have done here.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is strictly for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or Registered Dietitian for recommendations tailored to your unique needs.