Tuesday, January 24, 2006

T is for THALIPEETH

This article is part of a special series called "The A-Z of Marathi food". India is the land of diversity. Each of the 28 states in India has a unique cuisine but the Indian food served in restaurants represents only a tiny fraction of our culinary heritage. I come from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Capital: Bombay (Mumbai). Population: 96 million (only 11 countries in the world have a population higher than Maharashtra). Language: Marathi. Traditional Marathi food is earthy and humble, diverse and very tasty. It also remains relatively unknown to non-marathis. Its time to change that. I invite you to join me on an alphabetical culinary tour of my state. We will go through the letters A to Z and make a dish with each letter to show-case Marathi cuisine.

T is for THALIPEETH.

Set out some cold water, have some sugar handy, and get ready; for in stark contrast to the sugary sweet letter "S", the "T" of Marathi food is fiery hot! We start with tikhat, the Marathi word for "spicy" which is also the word generally used for red chilli powder, a ubiquitous component of every Indian spice box. Salt and red chilli powder can be used to make simple puris or fried breads called tikhta-mithachya purya, a staple snack for picnics and on journeys, for they keep well and taste good even days after being fried. "T" is also the word for the spiciest chutney of all, thecha, in which chillies (red or green) are pounded together with salt and maybe some garlic to a paste that is eaten with thick flatbreads (bhakri) for a simple frugal meal. "Thecha" is actually the Marathi word for "pounding". Another "T" spice-box component is tamalpatra or bayleaves, lending their subtle flavor to so many dishes.
One "T" food that finds its way into many savory foods is tomato. You notice that the word is exactly the same in Marathi as in English? My friend M has the sweetest grandmom who told us that tomato was completely unknown in India till only a few decades ago, when they were introduced into the Indian diet by the British who were ruling India at the time. Back in those days, M's grammy tells us, some people who were strictly vegetarian for religious reasons would not eat tomato because tomato juice was red, like blood! Despite being such a late entrant to the produce section, the tomato has successfully invaded our palate, becoming one of the most important curry bases and souring agents used today. Two of my favorite Marathi dishes in which tomatoes play a leading role are: tomato omelet, a mixture of chickpea flour (besan), chopped tomatoes and onions that is spiced and made into yummy pancakes (vegan omelets!), and tomato saar, a spicy tomato soup that is just perfect for winter evenings. Ashwini of "Food for Thought", a new Indian blogger on the block, has a wonderful recipe for tomato saar.
In the produce section, "T" stands for tondli and Indira of "Mahanandi" has beautifully described this vegetable.
After all this spicy food, we need to cool down with some taak or buttermilk, which tastes wonderful as an accompaniment to all Indian meals.
Finally, we end on a sweet note: "T" stands for til or sesame, used in this season to make tilgul, small balls of jaggery (unrefined sugar) and sesame...delicious treats! Here is a picture of some that I bought from the store last week:
tilgul
Now for the burning question: What am I making for the "T" food today? The answer really was obvious to me from the beginning...I am making a very popular Marathi dish called thalipeeth. It is a multi-grain mildly spiced pancake that is simply bursting with flavor and nutrition. The recipes for thalipeeth really vary widely, but I am giving you my favorite version here. In Maharashtra, a particular flour mixture called "bhajani" is widely sold (it can also be made at home). It consists of many different types of grains...wheat, sorghum, millet, rice, corn...plus some dals and spices, all roasted and ground into a wonderful aromatic flour. This can be used as a base for thalipeeth, as well as to make many kinds of savory snacks. I don't find bhajani flour in Indian stores in the US, so I simply mixed some flours that I had on hand to replicate the taste. Needless to say, the combination of so many grains is very tasty and nutritious.

Thalipeeth

(serves 2)
Thalipeeth
Ingredients:
Total 2 cups flour mixture
{I mixed...
1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup atta (whole-wheat flour)
1/2 cup ragi (millet) flour}
2 tbsp rava (cream of wheat)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp minced onion
4-5 green chillies, minced
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
salt to taste
vegetable oil for cooking
Method: Mix all the ingredients (except oil) together to make a soft pliable dough that looks like this:
Dough
The dough is fairly sticky and the traditional way is to use your hands to pat it into a pancake before cooking it. A thick plastic bag rubbed with some oil is ideal as a work surface. Oil the bag, then oil your hands lightly and place a golf-ball sized ball of dough on the plastic. Use the tips of your hands to pat the dough into a flat shape. Make a few small holes in the pancake (while cooking, you can slip drops of oil into these holes to cook the thalipeeth more evenly). Heat 1 tsp oil in a non-stick pan. Gently turn the plastic sheet upside down and ease off the thalipeeth onto the pan. Use a small spoon to place tiny drops of oil into the holes in the thalipeeth. Cook till browned and crispy on both sides.

The traditional way to serve thalipeeth is with green chutney and either some plain yogurt or a dollop of butter.
See you soon, with "U" and I know what I will making! Can you guess?

50 comments:

  1. Hi Nupur,
    I love reading your writings and recipes.
    I haven't yet tried any of the recipes, but one day I'll be starting. This also looks great! Can I replace the cream of wheat (I don't know have any idea about this) with vegetable oil?

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  2. Hi Isil, the cream of wheat is not literally a cream, it is the name for coarsely ground wheat. You might find it sold as farina/semolina. In this recipe, it is totally fine to omit it altogether.

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  3. This looks really delicious Nupur! Icanalmost imagine the taste.YUM

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  4. Hi Nupur!

    Those look really good. Reminds me of Gujrati Theplas in some way. This would make a great entry to the "From my Rasoi - Breakfast" event. Do check out my blog and this post for more details - http://hookedonheat.blogspot.com/2006/01/from-my-rasoi-2-fresh-start.html

    Do drop me an email if you wish to participate. And do drop by my blog for a chat and some nibbles!!

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  5. Nupur - Interesting history about tomatoes. That might mean most of the Indian curries we make are only about 200 years old? I wonder how gravies (Punjabi) were made before then...

    Thanks for another recipe that I going to stack up on my wish list. I think I know whats coming up for 'U'... been looking forward to Usal!

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  6. That sounds healthy and delicious (with the green chutney). Something like our adai...

    I really don't want this series to end, Nupur. Your recipes are detailed and valuable for the non-Maharashtrians to get a taste of your food.

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  7. Hi Nupur,
    I have been reading your blog for some time now and I simply love it :)! In introduction - I am Shruti from San Francisco, also a Maharashtrian (am guessing you are too). "U" could mean Usal or even "Ukadi che modak" ;o)

    whatever "U" is ... looking forward to it ..

    -Shruti.

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  8. hey nupur, i always used bhajnicha peeth, i will try making thaleepeth out of this receipe too..looks delicious.
    and for U...is it Upit? :)

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  9. I adore thalipeeth. I can put on weight reading your recipes...:-)
    You are already on 'T' now. Wonder if you have you started thinking about next round of alphabets?

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. Tomatoes are a 'new world' discovery. They're native to the Americas and reached Europe only around 400 odd years ago when Spanish explorers brought back seeds. They adapted well to Spanish weather and, as you may have noticed, have become an integral part of Spanish cuisine. Eventually they made their way to India during British rule and took hold.

    Interestingly, chillies are also a 'new world' plant. They came to India a little earlier via Portuguese explorers. If you notice, they're conspicuously absent from traditional Hindu temple food.

    Love your recipes Nupur. I am also Marathi and this blog brings back so many fond memories! Thank you.

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  12. N,

    the thaleepeth is one of my favorite breakfasts. at our home, the dough is pressed out by hand on a wet hankerchief, holes are made and then, dough-side down it's gently laid down on a kadai. you peel away the hankerchief as the thalipeet settles to cook. this allows you to make it thinner and so in the end it's crispier.

    either ways, yours look delicious.

    love,
    M

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  13. Oh Nupur, I can't keep up! This looks wonderful as well - definitely one I'll have to try. I have plans to make a couple of your recipes in the next week or so - I'm really enjoying all your recipes!

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  14. P.S. - how do these fit into a meal? I guess what I should say is, what would accompany these to make a full meal?

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  15. Hi Clare, thanks for visiting :)

    Hi Meena, yes, this is so much like theplas...except that theplas are rolled out like rotis...thanks for stopping by!

    Hi Garam Masala...I know, I wonder too. And yes, usal is coming up soon!

    Hi Mika, I have to learn how to make adai too! I too am feeling sad as we inch closer to the end of the alphabet :)

    Hi Shruti, thanks so much for leaving a comment...very nice to "meet" you! and "U" guessed it ;)

    Mplatz, If you are lucky enough to have bhajani peeth, the thalipeeth will be even better! Upit is a great idea!

    Hi Parag, the next round of alphabets?? well, I would love any ideas :) thanks for stopping by!

    Ameet, thanks for those great history tid-bits...food history is so fascinating! And to think that today, Indian cooking would be next to impossible without chillies and tomato. I'm glad you like this series!

    Hi M, yum...thats such a neat way of making these...I got to try this method! how is it going, bebe? come visit soon!

    Cathy, glad u like these! Thalipeeth I have mostly eaten as a heavy breakfast or a light lunch/dinner. It is ideal for one of those evenings when you are in the mood for something light and easy to make. With some yogurt on the side and some fruit for dessert, it is a complete meal in itself (with all those flours for carbs/proteins).

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  16. Nupur, I love Thalipeeth! I havent made it myself, but my friends in Pune used to get some for me, when their moms prepared this dish.

    Very few dishes are healthy AND tasty and this is one of them!

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  17. This looks so gorgeous, how can I not try it out? Cant wait for the weekend now, so it might be thalipeeth for my supper tonight, Nupur! :)

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  18. Nupur,
    Love your blog!....Thanks for a great dinner idea for tonight.Btw,do you have to roast the flours before making the dough?

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  19. Hi Nupur,

    Thanks for reminding me of home, yet again :)
    You have inspired me to try my hand at this now.

    - Sandeep

    p.s. Hope you will find creative ways to continue beyond "Z"

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  20. Just surfed your blog,couldn't resist Thalipeeth BTW I am marati as well but we call it as Dhapati.
    I tried it just now, it tasted awesome, wanted to thank you for such a wonderful recipe. I wanted to ask you one more thing my dough did not come out red as yours by any chance did you miss writing any of the ingredients just wanted to know. Any way thanks

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  21. Thalipeeth makes me think of a Sanskrit lesson I had in the school book in the 10th standard. It was called 'Sthaalapishtaashtakam' and if I am not wrong, it had critisism on politics.
    Anyway, for 'U' you were going to make Usal and Misal as I have read in one of the previous blogs. Upaasache Thalipeeth would be worth mentioning. Or for that matter, all 'upaasache jinnas'. I have come across 'Upaasache Rasgulle' and 'Upaasachi Kachori' in recipe books. Now can you beat that?
    'U' also makes me think of Udidaachya daalichi aamti / papad, Usaacha ras (slurp) and the Dashmya made using that.
    'U' also makes me think of the season 'Unhaala' (summer) which is the only 'season' one can experience in many parts of India and also Maharashtra. I wish I could have some of that here in Germany.

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  22. Now that we are approaching the end of the alphabet, I was thinking whether you want to do something with numbers. I mean, you could take one number at a time and then mention its significance in the Maharashtrian culture as well as in the cuisine. I don't really have a concrete idea, but it could look like this.

    Number '1': Paadwa. And then a recipe related to the festival. Or 'ektaari paak' and then recipes using that e.g. Saakhar Bhaat.
    Number '2': Bhau Beej. Recipes containing 'dontaari paak' e.g. Ravyaache Ladoo.
    Number '3': Tirangi vadi.
    Number '5': Naag Panchami and hence 'Kadaboo'. Or Panchaamrut.

    You need not take each and every number, but only those which are important either to all Maharashtrians or only to you.
    These are rather vague ideas, but I am sure you know what I mean.

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  23. hi,just stopping by ...your blog is wonderful.even kannadigas make thalipeeth,its called thalipittu. (in Shimoga, Davangere and North Karnataka).Kannadigas also have a different version of thalipeeth ,called "akki rotti" (made with rice flour , has a 100 different variations using different vegetables and spices) My personal favourite is what my my mum makes - using semolina. We call it "sajjige rotti" .The difference is that yoghurt or butter milk is used to knead the dough (semolina and a little maida, to bind) to which the usual chopped chillies, onions,curry leaves and ginger and a handful of grated coconut are added.

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  24. Hi Kay, this is an easy one if you would like to try it!

    Hi Shammi, thanks for stopping by!

    Hi Poornima, no, roasting flours will burn them. If you want to make the flour from scratch, then you could roast the whole grains.

    Hi Sandeep, I hope you do get a chance to try it. I am tossing around some ideas for continuing beyond Z :)

    Hi Anon, nope, did not miss any ingredients...i just checked...i know that my dough was reddish because of the ragi flour, and maybe the light makes the photo look even redder than it is...

    Vaishali, yes! I remember learning the sanskrit verse too...wow, you really have a good memory :) !!
    thanks for the wonderful "U" ideas...as you can see, I used lots of them in the "U" post :)
    you are such a fountainhead of ideas, Vaishali! Very creative! Girl, you need to start writing your own blog...you have so much to share :)

    Hi Anon, the akki roti sounds sooo good! I am totally going to try making sajjige roti...thanks for taking the trouble to write me the recipe.

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  25. loved the thalipeeth piece, never realized the flour could be madehere... how about 'vatali dal' for your V section since varan is already over???or varyacha bhat with shendanyachi amti or vangyache bharit????

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  26. Glad you liked the akki roti and sajjige roti , Nupur.
    After you prepare the dough for sajjige roti, do let it rest for 20-30 mins. And it tastes best when served with white unsalted butter.

    Was totally inspired by the thalipeet post that I made Akki roti last night .
    Here is the complete recipe for Akki roti too.

    (I never know how much exact rice flour to use, I add it in the end :))

    -----------------------------
    Ingredients (Makes 4-5 rotis)
    -----------------------------

    Rice Flour -2 or 2 and 1/2 cups

    1 Large carrot (Or 2 small carrots)- grated

    2 inch ginger piece - grated

    4-5 green chillies -finely chopped

    salt - depends on how salty you like your food

    1/2 cup grated coconut and 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (optional, but go a long way in making the roti tastier)

    For Seasoning :

    1 tbsp cumin

    2-3 sprigs of curry leaves (kitchen scissors work well, for cutting them fine )

    Oil

    ------------------
    Procedure
    ------------------

    Mix the carrot, ginger, green chillies , coconut and coriander leaves ( if using) well. (Do not add the salt now, it tends to make the mixture runny.)

    Add the rice flour and season this with the mix of cumin and curry leaves and hot oil.


    Add salt now.

    You may not need water, if the carrots have been grated fine and are fresh and juicy.Else add a little water till the whole mixture is bound (You should be able to make a ball out of it and it should not break).

    Take a cold tava, and smear the surface with oil .

    Place one ball of this mixture on a COLD tava and spread the whole mixture on the tava flatten it to form a roti.

    Make tiny holes randomly ,4-5 should be enough and pour a drop of oil in each hole.

    Now place the tava on the hob and cook the roti. (It helps if you can cover the tava with a lid or large cover .This way you need not turn the roti over and cook it on both sides.) If you wish ,you can turn the roti over and cook on the other side for a minute too.

    To make your next roti,hold the tava such that the bottom of the tava is under running water for a minute. It will cool down sufficiently to pat the next roti.

    Serve the roti with chutney powder/coconut chutney or pickle.

    Good luck!
    S

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  27. nupur

    i am addicted to reading your posts. and always hungry too :-)

    i haven't tried thalipeeth mixing different flour you get here in the US, but my mom sends bhaajaNi and goDaa or kaaLaa masaalaa. i use that plus onions, green chillies, tikhaT, halaD and i chop fresh spinach in it, or kothimbir or methi if i get some.

    boy! it's 1:00 a.m. and i am hungry again :)

    someday i will share with you a 'chocolate nemesis' recipe my friend gave me. it is out of this world!!! especially for chocolate lovers (like me!)

    -shailesh

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  28. hi nupur,
    This is a great way to learn new receipes from different parts of india too.I loved making the thalipeeth and eating it too.For person like me who loves to try new things your site is quite a nice way to start off with.

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  29. I am so happy I found this site. I always make thalipith (I get bhajani from India) I add some crushed ajwain in it. (My mom believes that it helps digestion.I like that flavor too. Also, instead of patting it on a plastic, i use heavy duty paper napkin. wash that and pat on it with water. I can then directly place thalipith on tava w/o being afraid of plastic getting closer to tava.

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  30. Hello! Thanks for the inspiration. I got all motivated this weekend and used the bhajani flour that my mother-in-law left for me. I added chopped onions, cilantro, salt and goda masala. I rolled the dough with a rolling pin between two pieces of oiled saran wrap and ended up with a very thin pancake. My husband now calls them thalipeeth papad!!! Next weekend, I am going to use your proportions for the bhajani flour and see how it comes out :)

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  31. Nupur : ur recipes are too good and they remind me of home-Pune. I tried to get bahjani flour in NJ and it is unfortunately not available yet.
    Anu

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  32. Thalipeeth looks awesome...Loni aNi thaalipeeth...simply amazing

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  33. hi Nupur... i prolly wud be last one to comment, this being jan 2007 hehe... but ya, i was gonna make thaalipeeth just now( i hv a readymade flour- thanks 2 my mum-in-law) but didnt knw d exact way to make it... was surfin the net n stumbled upon ur recepie and i must thank u for putting this up n love d way u write n put up ur receipes...will visit again soon...

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  34. looks very tempting *yummmmmmmmmy*

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  35. Hi Nupur,

    U have good creativity:)

    In making thaalpeeth, for how much time do we need to soak the dough?

    thanks
    Madhu

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  36. Hi,

    My last experiment was futile. I should have checked your recipe before trying it myself. I just imagine and cook, that is probably a problem with me.

    When I tried to make Thalipeeth day before I added some oil in the flour so that would have been the problem. I am presently in The Netherlands and I dont think I can find ragi (millet flour) any alternative or suggestions?

    Regards,

    -Hemant

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  37. Hemant,
    Thalipeeth can be quite a "forgiving" recipe. Look around the supermarket there, and you might find some unusual flours...buckwheat maybe, or some other flour. You could experiment with that. While the taste won;t be exactly the same, it will make a tasty dish. If you find that the dough is not forming properly, simply add water to make a thick batter and make pancakes! Try with small quantities until you find a recipe you like. Good luck!

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  38. Hi Nupur,

    Thanks! What is buckwheat in Hindi or Marathi?

    -Hemant

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  39. Hi Nupur,
    thanks for the thalipeeth components. Needed to "ad-lib" my own, since my mother's "bhajnee"- dough was running out! :)
    cheerio,
    Chaitanya

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  40. Great job. It's been years since I've had thalipeeth - and I was thinking about it right now. I googled the recipe and ur blog showed up. amazing job. can't wait to get home and try it.

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  41. Hi there, was doing some research on Thalipeeth..I found your picture used here http://www.indobase.com/recipes/details/thalipeeth.php

    I did not checked the recipe being stolen, but the picture is same..I hope it this link is of some help..do check it out..

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  42. My husband loves this! I was not able to make it for him till now. I will follow your recipe and hope for good result :) Nice blog.

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  43. hi, just wanted to say nutritionally multigrain is not actually a good idea. so i think its the roasting and grinding of the grains thats key to making this healthy. so just using different flours wont be equivalent.
    Sanjeev Kapoor's (famous Indian chef) has recipe for bhajani flour and its probably correct to make it that way

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  44. I made this recipe a month ago, and loved it. I was less enamored of day-old thalipeeth, but too impatient to cook the whole batch (I wanted to eat them!), I had frozen half the dough. I just thawed it and fried up some pancakes. They were just as good as the first time. Maybe better because - no work! Having no millet, I used buckwheat flour by the way. Thalipeeth is going in my memorized recipe file along with your instant dhokla and tomato omelet. Thank you for the introduction.

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  45. I'm so glad you're able to capture the tastes of Maharashtrian food that many of us have forgotten or would like introductions to. I've tried out some of your recipes and they have been excellent. Although I am Maharashtrian, having been brought up in different states of India I am not very familiar with Maharashtrian dishes and this has become my favorite venue for exploring my heritage. I fell in love with Thalipeeth when my mother-in-law made it - simple, delicious, and nutrious - what else could we ask for in a great recipe. I agree that actual roasted & powdered multi-grains would be far more nutritional, so I am on the hunt to get 'bhajani flour' shipped here. Thanks Nupur for the wonderful history/background and mouth-watering recipes.

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  46. Just like someone mentioned above, probably this time I am going to be the last one to post a comment here.
    I have to say this is amazing Nupur! Keep up the good work. You are probably one of those "Way to husband's heart is through his tummy".
    Here's a little twist in the recipe. Probably nobody has tried making Thalipeeth this way and I can imagine it will be little unhealthy but for those who sometimes prefer taste (for a change) over being healthy, try deep frying the Thalipeeth. Just drop it in the oil like you would drop a puri. It turns out crispy and goes very well with a blob of butter.

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  47. Tried your recipe.. Turned out really nice,.. My family enjoyed it.. Thanks so much for taking the effort to put up such awesome and easy to make recipes!!

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  48. Nice recipe. I made this today, and it turned out delicious. Also very nutritious because it has many different flours mixed in it!

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