Traditional Russian blini (pancakes) with Sri Lankan pani pol (sweet coconut) filling
Break a coconut and grate 1/2 of coconut flesh. Ok, I know how it sounds if you don’t live in Asia! If there’s no way to find a fresh coconut in your country, try searching for frozen grated coconut in supermarkets (in isles with Asian food) or in Indian stores. If you are using frozen grated coconut, thaw it, measure 1.5 cup and set aside.
Add 2 tbsp of sugar to a pan with heavy bottom and place over low heat. Wait until it caramelizes. You don’t have to touch it or mix it. Just let it be and watch sugar melt first, then turn golden brown in color. Make sure it doesn’t burn as it can happen very quickly. Caramelized sugar will give pani pol its dark brown color.
Add kithul treacle (see notes) to caramelized sugar slowly and stir until combined. Let it stay over low heat for a minute. Then add water and mix again.
Add grated coconut flesh to the mixture and mix well with kithul treacle. Add clove and cardamom to add aroma.
Leave the mixture over low heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Keep over low heat until the liquid evaporates and you have a moist mixture of coconut left. Remove cardamom and clove buds.
Sift flour (see notes) and baking powder into a bowl. Add sugar and salt and mix together.
Add water and milk and mix well using a whisk.
Add eggs and continue whisking. The mixture should be runny. If you insert a spoon the dough should coat the surface of the spoon.
Place a pan over medium heat and grease it with butter.
When the pan is hot use a ladle to pour the dough into the pan. 1/3 of a ladle should be enough to cover the surface of the pan. Hold a ladle with your left hand and the pan with the right one. When the dough touches the hot surface of the pan start moving your right hand in circular motions to make sure the dough spreads all over the pan. Place the pan back on the stove and wait for about a minute till the dough becomes golden brown on the bottom (see notes).
Flip the dough with a spatula and fry for another 30 sec.
Repeat with the rest of the dough.
While blini are still hot, fill each blin with pani pol and roll up.