I can’t quite remember how old I was when my fascination for my mother’s sarees struck. Then again, I wonder if there is any age or time that can ever be pinned to a little girl’s fascination with her mother’s clothes. Our mothers are often our first real life princesses. I remember wanting to wrap myself with brightly colored sarees gilded with golds and silvers, bejeweled with birds and flower motifs, just like in my parents’ wedding photo.
“Why don’t you wear these every day, Ma?” I would ask, stroking my mother’s benarasi saree that she wore for her wedding. “You silly, does anyone ever wear a wedding benarasi at home? Cotton sarees are for wearing in the house and all these good ones …” she would say, neatly folding back her silks into her wooden almirah, “are for important occasions.” “When I grow up I will wear a benarasi every single day!” I would say. Wide-eyed and star struck, I would travel as a princess in beautiful clothes in my imagination, where a silk saree woven in gold could magically transform anyone into royalty.
My fascination with my mother’s clothes continued into yonder years, as does every other girl’s. There seemed to be a mystery wrapped up in every saree that was folded neatly (and laced with white naphthalene balls). The smell evoked a sense of time in my imagination – to when my mother had worn them and conducted herself as royalty.
I don’t think my heart ever broke at the realization, whenever it happened, that my mother was not a real princess, because my awestruck mind was still struck by my mother’s beauty. No one was more beautiful than my mother. “You are a beauty, Ma”, I would tell her, repeating after my relatives. “Who said that?” she would ask, knowing all too well the source. But I think my mother – otherwise an unpretentious person – often extracted pleasure from hearing praise for her beauty. “Everyone I know, Ma”, I would say, proudly.
Even though my young mind was capable of influence, independently I still knew how beautiful my mother was. And it was true, especially when my Ma donned a black and pink crepe silk saree with a sleeveless black blouse and a single string of pearls. I remember looking at her and thinking that she was the height of all beauty that ever existed – there was nothing that looked more beautiful on her than that silk crepe, not even her wedding benarasi. The image so beautiful and fresh still floats in my mind as if it were yesterday.
Over the years, as I grew older, I had her permission to wear any saree I desired. And I did. Every time remembering my childhood days when I would sit and stroke the sarees and be lost in the imaginary land of prince-marrying princesses. But there was one saree, which I loved for its exquisiteness and light summery feel, which I would lovingly refuse to wear. It was the black and pink silk crepe – my father’s anniversary gift to Ma – that I thought no one but she should ever wear. That pink and black silk crepe was woven for my mother, and my mother only.
This is my entry to the Canadian Lentils Recipe Revelations Challenge, in the Best in Desserts category. It is a lentil and rice crepe, served with dulce de leche, ice cream, and berries. These crepes are essentially made out of lentils, rice flour, and milk. With no eggs used, the gluten-free rice flour used in the crepes achieves a silky consistency when done. They have a pronounced lentil flavour that gets caramelized when cooked with butter, giving it a lovely flavour that pairs beautifully with a drizzle of dulce de leche and a dollop of ice cream. The addition of berries adds contrast to the sweetness of the overall dish.
This recipe has everything my mother loves: from her fascination with Bengali crepes (always made with rice flour), to her addiction to dulce de leche, and her love for ice cream. This is for her, but I hope you like it too.
▪ Boiled Green Lentils or canned lentils: 1 cup
▪ Glutinous Rice Flour: 1 cup (glutinous rice flour does not contain gluten, unlike its name)
▪ Milk: 1 cup
▪ Sugar: 3 Tbsp
▪ Baking Powder: 1 tsp
▪ Salt: 1 pinch
▪ Butter/Oil: for frying (preferably butter)
▪ Icing Sugar: for dusting
▪ Dulce de Leche: for drizzling
▪ Vanilla Ice Cream: As preferred
▪ Berries: of choice, a handful per serving
▪ In a food processor add all ingredients except for butter and mix to a smooth paste.
▪ Heat a small frying pan over medium heat, add enough butter or oil to coat pan.
▪ When pan and butter is ready, lift pan off heat and add just shy of 1/4 cup batter in the centre of the pan and swirl to coat the bottom surface of pan.
▪ Bring back the pan to heat and let the crepe settle. Cook over low to medium heat. This crepes cooks slowly.
▪ When the sides of the crepes slightly detaches(a slight brown crisp forms) , run a spatula along the edges to loosen the crepe.
▪ Gently flip and let the other side cook.
▪ Cook for 20-30 seconds or so, then transfer to a plate.
▪ Let cool for a few minutes.
▪ Dust with Icing sugar and drizzle generously with dulce de leche and serve warm.
▪ Vanilla ice cream can also be paired with this crepe.
Note: The lentils need to be boiled to a very soft consistency. When pressed between two fingers the lentils should totally mash, leaving just the skin somewhat intact.