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Blini Bling


Buckwheat is the grain of choice when it comes to fasting in India. Every navaratri, my mom makes paranthas with what's locally called 'kuttu ka atta'. The dough is made with a combination of buckwheat and mashed potatoes, then rolled out and shallow fried in ghee. It's delicious enough to make atheists like me pretend we're fasting. But because this is fasting day food, you don't do much to the paranthas beyond eating them with yogurt.

The Russians on the other hand make a fine art of topping their version of buckwheat pancakes, the blinis, with salmon and caviar and sour cream. The pancakes themselves are a bit bland though, a pale match to the dark beauties that Indian kuttu paranthas are. So why not combine the two, I thought. Make a base of mini buckwheat paranthas Indian style, then load them up like a blini. The resulting dish packs quite a punch.

So ditch the idea of buckwheat as a fasting day food and go make these indo-blinis. I topped mine with a red pepper and walnut pesto and a dollop of whipped feta, ending with a sprinkle of pink pepper and dried mint. But truly, any creamy topping of your choice will do. The parantha recipe follows.

Ingredients
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 large potato, boiled and mashed
1 tsp ghee, plus more to cook the paranthas
salt
warm water

In a bowl, mix together buckwheat flour, mashed potato and salt. Add ghee and rub together until the potatoes are mixed through the flour and the mixture looks crumbly. Add enough warm water to form a dough. Knead lightly until the whole thing comes together.

The dough is quite a tricky one to work with so your standard rolling techniques won't work. Instead, take two sheets of parchment paper. Take a golf ball size piece of dough and put it in the middle of one parchment sheet. Top with the second parchment sheet and press the dough until it is rolled into a thin layer. Remove the top parchment sheet and use a cookie cutter to cut out small paranthas.

Heat a non stick pan. Brush the top of the rolled parantha with ghee and plonk it, ghee side down, on the pan. Cook on a low heat so it's fully cooked through. Then brush the other side with ghee, turn and cook until both sides are brown and crisp.

Once you have enough mini-paranthas, arrange them on a plate and add toppings of your choice. Make sure you have something creamy (cheese, labneh, sour cream) to cut through the dry nuttiness of the paranthas.

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