The 4-day Carnival revellery will soon come to an end, and the penitential season of Lent will begin for Catholics the world over, including Goa. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday and the day preceding it is called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday.
In many countries, including the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia etc, Pancake Tuesday is a day when pancakes are eaten, apart from following other customs. This custom of eating pancakes dates back to the 16th century when Christians would indulge in ‘rich food’ the day before Ash Wednesday since they would have to fast during the 40 days of the upcoming season of Lent.
Besides meat, these ‘rich foods’ included eggs, milk and sugar, and these were used to make pancakes to be eaten before the fasting period began.
While the practice of eating pancakes on the eve of Ash Wednesday is not prevalent in Goa, this food item is certainly prepared here and is popular at any time of the year among the local people.
Pancakes in Goa, called Alle Belle, are a local delicacy, which are more like crepes, rather than typical pancakes.
These paper-thin crepes are easy to whip up and contain a sweet filling. Originating in France, crepes are thin and light, their basic ingredients being flour, eggs, butter, salt, milk and water.
Goa’s delicious Alle Belle (or Ale Bele or Mannkio) have a simple filling of coconut and jaggery, and are particularly popular at tea time. These sweet rolls can be eaten plain, although some people add coconut milk and tiny bits of coconut to the filling, too.
Unlike many Goan delicacies, the preparation of Alle Belle is not rocket science, and requires only a couple of basic ingredients.
BASIC RECIPE: Alle Belle
¾ cup plain flour
Pinch of salt
½ tbsp sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup water (or as required)
Oil for frying
For the filling:
1½ tbsp coconut jaggery
1 cup coconut, grated
Beat the egg and sugar, then add milk and water. Mix well.
Slowly add the flour. Stir continuously.
Beat till smooth, for about a minute.
Keep the batter aside for 15 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly grease a frying pan and place over a low-medium flame.
Add 1½ tbsp batter onto it.
Cover and cook for a minute.
When done, remove the crepe from the pan and keep aside.
Repeat till all batter is used up.
For the filling:
To make the filling, add jaggery and coconut to a pan and heat for 10 to 30 seconds.
Remove and keep aside to cool.
Place a little filling on each pancake and roll.