Food Talk

King of the genre

Malpua is not commonly found in halwai shops these days and is seldom cooked at home. Pushpesh Pant gives the recipe for this mouth-watering sweet

PUAS are perhaps the oldest Indian sweets that are extant; these are referred to as apupani in the Vedas and the same stuff is celebrated in mouth-watering nonsensical nursery rhymes: Chandamama door ke pue pakaen dhoodh ke`85 Puas are ritually cooked, or were till recently, in all homes on festive occasions, be it a birthday, marriage, or a thanksgiving puja.

The pua essentially is a deep-fried dumpling—the lighter the better, only mildly sweet and redolent of saunf—prepared with a batter made of suji with curds and enriched with ghee.

In the hill villages of Uttaranchal, the same batter is used to make a single that is a titanic-jalebi look alike. But what we are talking about is not the run of the mill pua but the king of the genre the malpua. It is not very commonly available in the halwai shops these days and, for some inexplicable reason, is seldom cooked at home.


250 ml yogurt (unsweetened)
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp aniseed (whole)
˝ cup ghee

For syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups water

Blend the yogurt with the flour in a bowl. Add the whole aniseed. Mix well. Heat ghee in a shallow karahi. Add a tablespoon of yogurt at a time, tilt the pan gently to spread the batter a little and fry until brown and crisp at the edges. Remove from the ghee and drain on paper. Mix sugar in cold water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Place a pan on medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil until the syrup is thick. Cool. Add the malpuas in the syrup, one at a time, as they are fried. Allow to cool.

The recipe seems to change regionally—in the Ganga Jamuna doab the mal (the real stuff) is contributed by mawa and in Punjab the batter is a mixture of maida and suji. Not long ago wehad a passable malpua at Komla Sweets in Chitranjan Park—a trifle too sweet for our taste and the one dished out at roadside stall during the annual fair time Uttaraini at Bageshwar was disappointing due to lack of ambition and enterprise on the part of the confectioner.

A flat disc of maida soaked in syrup cannot long masquerade as malpua even if it is drizzled with slivers of badam and pista. The genuine article resembles nothing more than a well turned-out crepe.

What we have come to discover is that the incorporation of mawa is not necessary to prepare a delectable malpua. (Mawa is fine in pera and burfi ; we concede that it does have a role in the life of the gulab jamun and may, just may, be acceptable in concoctions like pakeeza and malai chop but certainly does not belong in the realm of non-dairy deserts. If you can’t stay without it, gorge yourself on kalakand and ask friends to bring back form the Pink City mawa kachori. Do indulge in mawa mutter but please do go slow on the khoya sprinkling routine when the gajar ka halwa is made this winter and please spare the malpua).

One recalls with continuing marvel the malpua omelet created by friend Jiggs during the shooting of the DD food show "Dawat"—a lace-rimmed beauty encasing a colourful bounty of fresh stewed fruits! A dish truly worthy of the festive season. You can enjoy the malpua without the frills also. Just a word of caution: This recipe does require tender loving care and a delicate touch is welcome.