Yes! Blintzes! Bharat being the name of this land to those who live here. Perhaps missing comfort foods just a tad, I had a Stranger in a Strange Land kitchen interlude today, and share my results.
Long time readers here may remember that I shared my grandmother’s blintz recipe a while back. Making them even in the US can be problematic because workable cheeses can be hard to find. I’ve experimented with lots of different cheese mixes over the years, because the ones my grandmother used were not always available where I was living. But inspired by paneer, which is like a super-dry farmer cheese, I was determined to make them here in India. And make them, I did, with excellent success!
Here’s a modified blintz recipe, adapted to local ingredients and availability, and halved in quantity from my for-freezer storage original. For the record, the paneer, dahi (an unsweetened thick yogurt) can be found in every market in India. Mascarpone (a soft, spreadable cheese in the cream cheese family) was found in Auchan Hypermarket – the supermarket a couple of blocks from my apartment. I’ve also seen it in Dorabjee’s.
Please note that blintzes are dairy, but not totally vegetarian, because both the crepes and the filling contain eggs. For equipment you’ll need a grinder/blender, although a hand-held electric mixer would work even better, also a non-stick slope-sided omelet or crepe pan, a paper towel or basting brush, a couple of clean non-fuzzy/non-terry kitchen towels, and a ladle or scoop of some type.
Makes about 28-30 or so
For the crepes:
10 enormous heaping table tablespoons (as opposed to measuring spoons) of all-purpose flour (pile these so high that more can’t balance on the spoon)
3 pints of water
2 tsp salt
Vegetable oil for frying
For the filling:
200g mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup dahi
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Making the crepes
Using the grinder/blender, and working with only HALF of each quantity above at a time (due to small blender carafe capacity), Combine water and flour until completely smooth with no lumps. Blend in the eggs. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients, and mix the results of the two batches together. This should give you a very runny vaguely yellowish batter. It will be a bit frothy at first – let it sit for about 15 min to disperse some of the foam.
Spread out one clean kitchen towel in a safe spot near the stove. Pour a VERY SMALL quantity of oil into your omelet pan, wiping most of it out with the paper towel. Reserve the towel because you’ll use it again between crepes. Set the pan to heat. When the pan is hot, take it off the heat and ladle just enough batter into it that when the pan is swirled, the bottom is covered. Set the pan back on the flame. The edges of the crepe will release from the side of the pan and curl in, and the top of the crepe will eventually look dry and less shiny. When that has happened, take the pan over to the towel and inverting the pan and rapping it on the towel, turn out the cooked crepe. If it landed folded, spread it out to cool, with the cooked side up. Wipe the pan with the oily paper towel.
Keep making crepes until you run out of batter. It should take only a minute or two for each new crepe to cool. As they cool, stack them in a pile with the cooked side up. The crepes should be thin enough that any pattern or printing on the kitchen towel should show through. If they crack or are totally opaque, they are too thick. You won’t get 28-30 from the recipe. The crepes can be made ahead and left to sit, covered with another kitchen towel, but they should be filled on the same day as they are made. If they are fridged between making and filling, let them come up to room temperature before you attempt to separate them.
Making the filling:
I made the filling in three batches, again because of the limited capacity of my blender/grinder. If you are using an hand-held electric mixer, there’s no reason not to do it all at once.
Using a third of the filling ingredients at a time, blend all together until smooth. Combine the three batches and stir them together, just in case the division was less than perfect.
Filling and cooking the blintzes:
Place a crepe in front of you, cooked side up (you want the cooked side of the crepe to be in contact with the filling, and the uncooked side to be on the outside of the blintz) . Spoon one or two tablespoons of filling onto the bottom third of one side. Fold the bottom edge up over the filling. Fold in the left and right sides. Roll the crepe away from you to make a cylinder roughly the size of a Chinese eggroll. The filling should be entirely encased.
These may be frozen or refrigerated at this point – both of these processes work best if the blintzes are not touching each other. Otherwise they might stick and the outsides might tear.
Saute lightly in vegetable oil starting with the “flap” side down. Blinzes are done when the skin is golden and the filling is firm. Serve with dahi, sour cream, or with applesauce or another sweet condiment. This being India of course, any manner of savory, hot and sweet chutney might be used.
Moral of the story: where there is a will (and cheeses) there is a way!