It’s the crack of dawn.
Goubert Avenue and the fabled French Quarters of Pondicherry still hide behind a veil of shadows deep in their slumber.
I look at my watch.
Not long before the seductress of night shall silently slip away. The twinkling stars, fatigued from having stood guard all night, shall retire. And the first vestiges of light shall shine through the shroud of darkness.
I rest atop a boulder.
Staring listlessly at the infinite expanse of the Bay of Bengal.
Listening to the soothing lullaby of waves. As they lash the rocks.
Punctuated by the raucous shrill of odd early-riser gulls.
And then he appears.
A vermilion orb arising from the depths of the ageless Bay.
An invisible surreal painter gets to work, furiously splashing crimsons, scarlets and vermilions on the canvas of the heavens with gay abandon.
Enraptured by the theatrics of the infant sun. And the fast-morphing silhouettes. As Light smothers the Dark.
Beside me, mischievous crabs chase themselves silly on the wet sands. Disappearing into their pin-hole burrows, only to reappear moments later.
Garrulous sandpipers wait patiently for that opportune moment before swooping down on an unsuspecting crab.
The games of survival.
The first signs of life begin to appear on Goubert Avenue.
The odd early morning jogger.
A solitary yoga aficionado.
The newspaper boy cycling in anger to the hub. To pick up the morning dailies.
A drift of young fishermen. An indistinct chatter. The odour of cheap smoke. And that faint whiff of country liquor. Bastille Day celebrations last evening, I chuckle.
And then I see Him.
A solitary fisherman sitting on the pier.
A gnarled face. Lined with creases.
A bare sun-speckled you-can-count-the-ribs chest.
A cigarette aglow in his right hand.
Olive green shorts.
A pair of threadbare sandals, well past their prime, the left one held in place by an enterprising rubber band.
A creel by his side.
I watch his adept fingers fix a bait to the rusted hook of his worn fishing rod. And with a swift thrust of his arm, hurl it into the sea.
Take a deep puff off his cigarette.
If I were Hemingway, I ruminate, He would have been my muse.
I glance at my watch. And panic.
A close friends aunt has offered to teach me some Pondi delicacies and I don’t want to be late for my appointment.
More on my Pondi culinary adventures later.
I cross the road, walk over to a quaint cafe for a delectable coffee, croissant and crepes breakfast.
That’s when the inspiration of a crepe cake hits me, a French inspired Mille Feuille Mango Crepe Cake. With a divine Alphonso Mango and Cream Cheese filling.
Healthy yet finger-licking delicious !!!
Try my Mango Crepe Cake before the mango season runs out !! Enjoy !!
Mille Feuille Mango Crepe Cake
For the Oats Crepes
- 11/2 cup plain flour
- 2 cup milk
- 3 eggs whisked
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- oil for cooking
For the Mango Filling
- 2 alphanso mangoes peeled and puried
- 200 g cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 alphonso mango peeled and cut into small cubes
For the Oat Crepes
- Take the flour in a bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt, sift with a fork to aerate the flour.
- Add the milk, whipped eggs and vanilla extract, whisk well to make a smooth batter. Care should be taken that there are no lumps in the batter. The batter needs to be a medium-thick one with pouring consistency. If the batter is too thick, feel free to add a little milk.
- Keep aside, 15 minutes or so.
- Heat a frying pan, brush with very little oil.
- Give the batter a hearty stir. Take a small ladle and pour 11/2 ladle full of batter onto the middle of the pan, spread it evenly around the pan by rotating it. (This needs to be done real quick before the batter begins to set.) Cook till the batter just begins to set.
- When the crepe turns slightly brown around the edges, carefully loosen the ends with a flat spatula and flip. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Slide the crepe onto a plate.
- Repeat the process with the remaining batter, brushing the pan with oil as and when needed. (The portions I have specified make about 18 crepes.)
For the Mango Filling
- Beat the cream cheese till smooth. Add the mango puree, whisk till the puree is incorporated well into the cheese. Add sugar in this stage if want it more sweeter. Refrigerate until use.
Assembling the Crepe Cake
- Brush very little oil on a plate, gently place a crepe over it.
- Spread 1-1.5 tbsp of the mango - cream cheese filling evenly on the crepe.
- Top with another crepe and again spread the mango - cream cheese filling evenly on the crepe.
- And then another crepe and another layer of filling.
- Continue with this layering till you have used up all your crepes, finishing with a crepe on the top.
- Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or so.