One of the most popular desserts made on the Hindu spring festival Holi, malpuas are pan-fried pancakes dipped in a sweet saffron-and-cardamom syrup. This recipe comes from Nidhi Jalan, founder of Brooklyn-based Masala Mama -- maker of artisan Indian simmer sauces (check out the Chickpea Curry) -- by way of her mother-in-law, who adds semolina flour to the batter for an extra-crunchy pancake edge. Nidhi call this version "simply divine" and admits that they are easily addictive.
For the pancakes: Combine the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, milk powder, fennel and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt and gradually add enough milk, while stirring, to form a smooth pourable batter. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes, while you make the syrup.
For the syrup: Combine the sugar, cardamom and 1/2 cup water in a medium skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook until syrupy, about 8 minutes. Keep warm. Meanwhile, soak the saffron in the milk in a small bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, add the baking soda to the pancake batter and mix well. Once the ghee is hot, add dollops of the batter (2 to 3 tablespoons each) to the skillet; it should spread like a pancake. Reduce the heat to medium and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes more. (Make 4 to 5 pancakes at a time.) Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more ghee as needed between batches. Transfer the pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate.
To serve: Warm the syrup, if it has cooled. Add the saffron-milk mixture. Use tongs to dip/coat the pancakes in the hot syrup and transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle with almonds and pistachios and serve warm.
Ghee is clarified butter that originates from India and can be found in specialty stores.
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