The more I delve into the world of food, the more fascinated I am about food history and how food traditions established. The cooking practises and style I thought was indigenous to South India has in fact travelled and can be seen in other parts of the world. I find a lot of coincidences this way particularly with Greek, Middle Eastern and other Asian cuisines. I am not saying they have all been cut from the same cloth but the similarities are intriguing. Yes we all wonder whether noodles originated in China and then travelled to Italy and other parts of Europe. In the same token the Greek tzatziki is very similar to raita – yes Alexander did try to invade India! What about babaghanoush (Middle Eastern) and Indian baingan bharta. That brings me to one of the Andhra specialties of Pesarettu or mung bean pancakes and banh xeo. They are uniquely different but can see similarities especially in the vegetarian version. These are very yummy and to make these, you do need a nice big wok.
For the pancakes
1 and a half cups of split mung flour
½ cup of brown rice flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups lukewarm water
Vegetable oil to cook pancakes
For the filling
Couple of handfuls of mung bean sprouts
Couple of handfuls of mesclun salad leaves
1 handful of tender mint leaves
1 handful of coriander leaves
1 red pepper julienned
1 carrot julienned
1 cup roast peanuts, roughly chopped
For the dipping sauce
45ml lime juice
30ml fish sauce
3cms piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 -2 red chillies, finely chopped and seeds removed if you prefer it that way
Mix all dry ingredients for the pancakes in a large bowl. Add the eggs and incorporate them. Pour water, little by little while mixing until a pouring consistency is reached. Allow batter to rest for 15-20 minutes.
Combine ingredients for salad in a bowl and keep ready.
For the dipping sauce, dissolve the sugar in water. Mix in all ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning according to your palate. If you do not wish to use fish sauce, you can substitute it for light soy sauce.
When ready to make pancakes – heat wok and spread a teaspoon of oil around the bottom of the pan. Pour a ladle full and swirl the wok handle so the pancake spreads around bottom of the pan. You want only a thin layer so it is nice and crispy when cooked. Cooking times vary but as a guide about a minute and a half or two minutes maximum. Depending on how thin you spread the batter, you can skip cooking the top. If you wish flip and cook the other side for 30 seconds.
To serve, arrange the pancake on a plate. Place some salad on one half and partially flip the other half as a cover. Serve hot alongside dipping sauce. Makes 12 pancakes.