Whenever I hear or think of 'Malpoa', I am reminded of the very popular 'Bangal' catchphrase 'Mashima Malpo Khamu' (Aunt, I want Malpo) by the iconic actor Bhanu Bandopadhyay from the Bengali comedy movie 'Share Chuattur'. I loved hearing his 'Bangal' dialect in many of his films. I remember, we had two audio cassettes of Bhanu Bandopadhyay's comedy audio clips (in the 'Bangal' dialect) which my father had bought as a Puja release one year. Despite being too young to understand the sarcasm or the pun that were intended in those comedy audio clips, I found those audios highly entertaining. (I wonder where those cassettes are now, given the tape recorders and cassettes have become obsolete now.) Undoubtedly, there are many excellent comedians and actors in the present time, but till today, no one can match the comic sense or repertoire of Bhanu Bandopadhyay.
Oh! my wandering mind and its musings.... Coming back to Malpoa......
Malpoa is known to be one of the oldest Indian desserts which is popular throughout India as well as in its neighbouring countries Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. One can find its first mention in the Rig Veda where it is termed as 'Apupa' which is made from barley flour shaped in form of flat cakes, deep fried in ghee and served with honey.
Over time the constituents of 'Apupa' changed, the barley flour was replaced with wheat flour and other ingredients like clarified butter, cardamom, sugar were added. In the 2nd century 'Pupalike' was introduced in which rice flour or wheat flour cake was stuffed with jaggery and fried in ghee.
With time, and under various geographical and cultural influences, the 'Malpoa' underwent various makeovers with different compositions in different places. While in Pakistan it is made with egg, in Bangladesh it is made with fresh fruits, it is made with maida (white flour) and banana in Nepal. Similarly, in India, 'Malpoa' is served in the main dish with mutton or chicken curry during Holi in Bihar, it is served as first food to Lord Jagannath in Orissa, it is celebrated as a winter sweet dish in West Bengal during Poush Sankranti. All these regions have their own variations of 'Malpoa'.
The thought of making malpoa has been in my mind for some days and what better month to prepare it, in honour of Bhanu Bandopadhyay, than his birth month - August. Also, I had two overly ripe bananas to take care of and hence, the ever-popular and ever-loved dessert preparation.
However, for my preparation, I did not follow any particular regional recipe but it may have a slight inclination towards the 'Malpoa' that is made in Bangladesh. However, I have not used any milk or cream as I am Lactose intolerant, and I have not prepared any sugar syrup (that is why I've termed it dry). I have sweetened the batter with jaggery.
**Recipe for Banana Malpoa/Deep Fried Banana Pancakes**
Ingredients (for two):-
2 overripe bananas
1 cup (160 ml) whole wheat flour (Atta)
2 tablespoons of semolina
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cinnamon powder
1/2 tablespoon of fennel seeds
Jaggery as per the sweetness required
Ghee (for frying)
Take the bananas and the fennel seeds in a blender and blend the bananas to a smooth puree with crushed fennel seeds.
Now take the wheat flour, semolina, blended banana in a large bowl. Add salt and the cinnamon powder. Mix them thoroughly and add water if required until the batter is lump free. Add required amount of jaggery and mix it with the batter and allow the batter to sit for 30 minutes. The consistency of the batter should be such that it is not too runny nor too thick.
Now heat ghee in a wok and pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter from a ladle. Fry it until one side turns brown and flip it over to the other side so that the Malpoa is completely cooked. Drain off the excess oil and take it out. Repeat the same process for the remaining batter.
And the Malpoas are ready to be served.
You may garnish it with fried or roasted cashew and almonds.