“This is too thick ammamma,” I told my paternal grandmother when I was a six or seven year old, while she was in the midst of making “mumbris”. “This is too thin”, I said the second time she made it for me. “I want it more crisp” was my demand, the third time she made it. The fourth time, my very patient and loving grandmother made the perfect mumbri as per my liking, at the same time saying “I’m not going to make it again and you have to eat it however it is”.
She indulged me like a doting grandmother, while teaching me valuable lessons of patience, love and understanding. Mumbri is a regular breakfast dish from my father’s side of the family. This much-loved food belongs to the havyaka community.
As a young bride, 30 years ago, my mother learned to make “havyaka food” very quickly. This ensured that my father didn’t miss his native cuisine. This also made sure that me and my siblings grew up relishing havyaka food. Many of these dishes are unique and have medicinal values.
When Ro and I were getting back to Mumbai after a visit to my parents home, my mother packed a box full of mumbris to save us from the plight of eating boring “flight food”. This was Ro’s introduction to Mumbris and he absolutely loved and devoured my mother’s mumbris. I can eat this for breakfast or as a snack and I simply adore it too.
Since I’m at my parent’s place, I had the luxury of making these with a banana leaf, something that I miss in Mumbai. My mother has a banana plant amidst a host of other plants, trees and flowers in her garden. So many ingredients for her cooking are plucked fresh from the garden. In my Mumbai kitchen I use greaseproof paper, an acceptable and useful substitute for the banana leaf.
Rice Flour Pancakes/Mumbri Recipe
This is traditionally made with white rice flour. I use red rice flour for a healthier version. Serve these with fresh butter, chutney and a lump of jaggery.
2 cups red rice flour or white rice flour
3 cups milk or water
2 tsp butter or vegetable oil (optional)
1 ½ tsp salt
Oil for cooking
In a wok or saucepan, bring the milk or water to a boil. Put in the optional butter or vegetable oil and salt and stir in the rice flour. Switch off the flame immediately. Stir the flour into the milk or water until the liquid is incorporated into the flour.
After the batter cools down, mix with your hands and knead until you get a soft homogenous mixture. Divide the mixture into 4 equal balls.
Take one ball and pat it onto a greaseproof paper or greased banana leaf (if available). Form the ball into a 6” circular disc by patting it with your hands.
Heat a frying pan, skillet or griddle on a medium flame. Smear it with a little oil. Lower the flame and place the pancake along with the greaseproof paper or banana leaf on the frying pan. Peel off the greaseproof paper or banana leaf. Raise the flame to medium or medium high and cook on both sides with a little oil until golden brown spots are formed.
* My mother says: Use 1 tbsp butter for a tastier version.
Makes 4 mumbris