May 20, 2011


Last month I headed to New Jersey with my son for spring break. It had been a while since we’d spent some quality, relaxed time with my parents. My son had a blast, spoiled by his grandparents who were always happy to take him to the playground or park.

I was spoiled too, but with food. Food is usually the center activity when we visit and this time was no different. My dad generally experiments and presents us with a new creation or a fresh take on a classic. This time we were treated to mussels in a creamy, winey broth, fried clam strips, and a new take on chicken curry (not all in the same meal).

My mom is more likely to stick to Indian classics, prepared the way she grew up eating them. So one morning for brunch she made thalipeeth. Thalipeeth is one of my favorite Indian brunch/lunch dishes, but one I’ve never made myself. So this time I pulled my laptop and camera into the kitchen with my mom and documented the process.

Thalipeeth is a savory, dense pancake. Thalipeeth flour is made out of a combination of grains, legumes and rice. In India, no two recipes for thalipeeth flour are the same. Every family has a particular recipe that combines different proportions of the basic ingredients. These ingredients are toasted and then sent to the mill to be ground up into a coarse powder. 

Thalipeeth hails from Maharashtra, a coastal state on the western side of India. Mumbai (Bombay) is in Maharashtra, and it’s where both of my parents grew up.

Whenever my mom visits India, she brings back thalipeeth flour that has been prepared by my grandmother. To me, the thalipeeth made from this flour is the only one that tastes like “real” thalipeeth.

Lately, pre-ground thalipeeth flour has become available in India and in some Indian grocery stores in the U.S. 

Thalipeeth flour purchased at the Indian store

Like so many traditional Indian recipes, this one is hearty and healthy. Although thalipeeth is usually served for brunch or lunch in India, it’s substantial enough for dinner.

To transform your thalipeeth flour into the final thalipeeth pancake, begin by putting the flour in a large, shallow dish with raised sides. In the meantime, heat some water in a small saucepan.

Add the dry spices to the flour.

Then add the chopped onion and butter cubes. (You can use oil or melted butter in place of the butter cubes.) This would also be the stage at which you would add the cilantro if you were using it. I am not a fan of cilantro so my mom left it out. (Aren’t moms great?)

Now start mixing up the flour, spices, onions and butter with your fingertips. Break up the butter into the flour until it is the size of small peas.

Slowly add hot water to the flour. You can mix it with a spoon at first.

Continue to add water, then begin to mix with your hands until the mixture just comes together.

Once the dough is ready, set everything up to cook the pancakes. Preheat a frying pan and place a piece of paper on your counter or a marble board. Put some canola oil in the pan, on the paper, and on your fingers. (Be patient, you’ll see where we’re going with the paper.)

Grab a piece of dough about the size of a medium onion and pat it down into a circle on the oiled paper until it is about 1/8 inch thick.

Pick up the paper and flip the pancake onto your palm (the oil will make it easier for the paper to release the sticky dough). Slide the pancake onto your pan. With a knife, cut a small slit in the center to allow the steam to release. Cover your pan and let it cook for a few minutes until the pancake begins to brown on the bottom.

Now drizzle a bit of oil on the pancake. Flip it over and cook, covered, until the second side begins to brown. This should take another 2 minutes or so.

Add a pat of butter on top of the thalipeeth and remove from the pan. Serve warm with any or all of the following – yogurt, pickle, butter, or ghee!


1 cup thalipeeth flour
1 ½ tsp chili powder (or to taste)
¾ tsp salt, or to taste
Pinch of asafoetida
1/3 tsp turmeric
1/3 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp goda masala (Goda masala is a combination of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, white sesame seeds, cloves, big cardamom, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, bay leaf and dried coconut that is roasted in oil and then ground up into a powder.)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Chopped cilantro (optional)
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
Canola or vegetable oil

1.      Heat a few cups of water in a saucepan.

2.      Place thalipeeth flour in a large, shallow dish with raised sides.

3.      Add the chili powder, salt, asafoetida, turmeric, cumin powder, and goda masala to flour. (If any of these spices are already in the thalipeeth flour you have purchased, you can leave them out.)

4.      Add onion and butter cubes (or oil or melted butter) to the flour. Also add the cilantro if you are using it.

5.      With your fingers, combine all ingredients. Break up butter into flour with fingers, until the butter pieces are the size of small peas.

6.      Slowly add hot water to the flour. Keep mixing. At first you can mix with a spoon. Eventually begin to mix it with your hands. Continue adding water and mixing until the mixture just comes together.

7.      Put a piece of paper on your counter or a marble board. Put canola oil on the paper and on your fingers and on a preheating pan. The oil prevents the sticky dough from sticking to the paper.

8.      Grab a piece of dough about the size of a medium onion. Pat it down on the oiled paper into a circle, about 1/8 inch thick.

9.      Heat oil on a pan over medium heat. Flip the circle onto your hand, then slide it onto the pan. With a knife, make a small slit in the center of the circle. This allows steam to be released from underneath the thalipeeth while it’s cooking. Cover the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, until browned on the bottom.

10.  Uncover and add a bit of oil on top. Flip over and continue to cook, covered, until the second side browns, about 2 more minutes.

11.  Add a pat of butter on top and serve warm.

Note: Thalipeeth can be served with yogurt, pickle, butter, ghee, or some combination of these. I love mine with yogurt and mango pickle.

Serves 3

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