During the poll on my Instagram profile, after the Bread Kunafa, this recipe garnered the second highest number of votes. A “chatti pathiri” is Malabar’s answer to the Italian lasagna. I already have the savory version on the blog, which is made of crepes, layered with delicious chicken filling, and cooked on stove top till it looks like a beautiful layered cake. Since we don’t have the chatti pathiri in the area I belong to, it came into our family when umma learned it from one of her Kannur friends. She loves making it so much that it repeats on our tea time menus when she runs out of ideas. Hehe… However, the first time I had the sweet version was after I got married.
More than the savory version, I would be served the sweet version when I had visited his relatives places as a “puthupenn”. I better not talk about that time – uff the amount of eating and the weight I had put on in hardly a month is a story to be told later. Truth being told, even though I call myself “The Big Sweet Tooth”, I am not really a fan of the sweet version. The main difference between both, is that the sweet version uses thin maida chapathis as layering, which is a little bit more work than the crepes. The filling can be as simple as just fried nuts, to having ghee roasted eggs and/or plantains. The chapathis are dipped in a sweetened milk and egg mixture and layered, with the sprinkling of whatever filling you choose to make. It is then made on stove top till the bottom and sides looks cooked, flipped and then cooked to give the top portion a charred appearance. It is usually carried while going to see an expecting mother – I too got one when I was carrying Azza, made by HD’s cousin’s wife, and I must say that was the tastiest chatti pathiri I had ever had. That is how I actually saw the whole process when it was being made at my in-law’s place.
I have been wanting to make this since long. In fact, I was just plain lazy to make those flatbreads that go in between. That is when B came with those large spring rolls that I used to make these chicken spring rolls. I really didn’t like it, since it was too long, needed too much filling and wasn’t even crisping up. That is when it suddenly stuck me that it could be used as a layer for the chatti pathiri! It is maida after all and is so thin that it would make an amazing layer. I kept the filling very simple, just fried cashews and raisins, dipped each sheet into the sweetened milk mixture and baked the dish instead of cooking it on the stove. You can add roasted plantains, scrambled sweetened eggs – yes, even more eggs! – , toasted coconut or some poppy seeds. The end result was extremely delicious and super close to the original that you won’t even believe that the short cut method was used! I did feel the sides were a little thick, since I didn’t cut the sides, but either you can cut or use a slightly bigger pan so that sides aren’t very thick. But if you ask me, I wouldn’t want to make the regular version! 😀 Off to the recipe…
- 14 large spring roll sheets (30 cm square)
- 1 cup milk
- 5 small eggs
- ¼ cup sugar
- A dash of cardamom powder
- 2 tbsp ghee
- ¼ cup crushed cashewnuts
- ⅛ cup raisins
- 1 tbsp nigella seeds (optional)
- Let the spring roll sheets thaw.
- Whisk together the milk, eggs and sugar. Cook them on low flame till the sugar is melted and it looks like a homogenous mixture. No need to thicken!
- In a saucepan, heat ghee. Fry the cashewnuts. Add the raisins and switch off. Toss till fluffed. Drain off the dry fruits and divide into six portions.
- In an 8 inch pan, add the ghee and coat all around. Dip one sheet into the egg mixture well and layer below. It may hang out, it is OK. Dip another sheet and layer on top. Sprinkle in some of the nuts and raisins.
- Repeat this step - ie. dip 2 sheets, sprinkle some nuts, dip the next 2 and so on. You will end with the last two sheets on the top.
- Sprinkle the nigella seeds if using. Pour the remaining egg-milk mixture on the corners and then to the top. This will help seal the sides.
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and bake for 30 minutes or till the top looks browned and done. Alternatively, you can cook on stove top on low flame till done.
- Allow to cool in pan for a couple of minutes and flip onto the serving dish. Serve warm.