Sri Lanka Stories – Perky Pancakes

Sri Lanka Stories – Perky Pancakes

Most of us have one dream job, get paid to travel the world. But who are we kidding, only if horses grew on trees! I know, I know; we should take life head on and live the life you’ve always dreamt of and so on and so forth. But that said, along with being an idealist dreamer, I am also a realist. So, every opportunity I get to travel I grab with my bare hands.

Recently, as a birthday gift, my husband took me on a holiday to Sri Lanka! And man! It was such a fabulous experience and a flavour explosion of sorts. We started our trip from Galle which is at the Southwestern tip of Sri Lanka. Dotted with beautiful palm trees, coconut trees and a beautiful coastline. The promenades, clean smooth roads (yes, clean roads are a big deal for me. I live in Mumbai dammit!), and the quaint cafes were a fabulous treat to all 5 senses. In Galle, we lived at this home-stay called Green Casa. A beautiful Dutch home that is a 150 years old. A lovely colonial architectural marvel, with modern amenities just to make you comfortable and soak in the warmth that the home emanates. But THE BEST part of living there is the sumptuous breakfast spread that is prepared by Dinesh, who is the care-taker and a FABULOUS cook. And mind you, when I say fabulous, I mean it to the T or S in this case. His meals are not just, OH SO AWESOME that you’d want to stuff yourself with all that you can eat and then some more, until your stomach threatens to burst; but all of it is so consistent and symmetrical, that it almost feels like a programmed robot made it!

One of the days during our stay, he made the world’s best coconut pancakes. Oh My God! The pancakes were light and fluffy like pillows and the filling was totally melt in your mouth and had these amazing textures and elements of the fillings intermingling with each other in the world’s happiest marriage. Now, my husband is a huge fan of coconut stuffed pancakes. When he was a kid, my mom-in-law used to make these coconut stuffed pancakes for him. This had multi-fold benefits; he would finish the food served to him without any fuss whatsoever. That of course would also mean that he would sit in one place for some time (which was very rare), and that would give my mom-in-law some peace time during which she could finish her work at superhuman speed! So, back to the present (somewhat). Now the biggest coconut stuffed pancake fan I know viz. my husband, was so, SO impressed by the pancakes that Dinesh made, he dreams of it till date. In fact, sometimes he’s lost in thought and drooling just imagining eating those pancakes!

So, that said, I of course had to make those pancakes but, obviously, I had to put my own twist to it. So here, I am going to share with you not just 1 but, 2 kinds of pancakes with 2 kinds of fillings! Trust me they are going to take you to coconut heaven and will leave you wishing you could live there.

Traditionally the pancake or the covering is made with maida. If you have been following my blog, you would know that I always look for an alternative to using maida. Because truthfully, although I know that a lot of dishes need the elasticity that you get with maida, if I can make it so with a more nutritious flour, I will always go for it. So here goes, the 2 pancakes with a few tricks you will bless me for!

Pancake 1 – Jaggery and Coconut Stuffed Pancakes

Ingredients

For the pancakes

1 cup fine rice flour

1 tsp castor sugar

2 eggs

1 cup coconut milk

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

A pinch of turmeric for colour (optional)

For the filling

3/4th cup grated palm jaggery or, palm sugar

1 cup grated coconut

1 tbsp honey or treacle

2 drops cinnamon oil or 1 tsp cinnamon powder

Method

  • Let’s first make the pancake batter. You’ll soon see why. So, for the batter, sift the rice flour into a bowl.
  • Into this, add all the other ingredients specified for the pancake.
  • Get your children to whisk it really well until everything is well combined.
  • The consistency should be that of a crepe batter. Let the batter rest, while you get on to the filling.
  • For the filling, in a pan add the jaggery.
  • Let it melt, with just a hint of water on a very low flame.
  • Now add the coconut and cinnamon. Keep a hawk’s eye on this one and stir from time to time making sure the jaggery doesn’t stick or burn.
  • Keep stirring until all the ingredients are well combined. Then cool.
  • That my friends would be your filling done.
  • Now back to the pancake, the batter will have been well rested by now.
  • Take a non – stick pan and grease it with some butter or coconut oil.
  • Put a dollop of the pancake mix in the centre of the pan and spread it across the pan to form a nice thick netted pancake.
  • Make sure the pan is not very hot, so you can spread the pancake easily and evenly. Don’t worry, you don’t have to master them into perfect rounds. A little imperfection makes it all the more better!
  • Cook covered for about 3 minutes on one side. Then flip it and repeat for the other side. This time though, you don’t need to cover it.
  • Once cooked on both sides, set aside on a plate.
  • Repeat the process for the remaining batter. This amount of batter should easily yield about 4 to 6 pancakes depending on the size of the pancake. Stack these up one on top of the other.
  • Now flip the stack so the pancake you made first is at the top.
  • Take the pancake, and add the filling closer to one end, and off the centre, leaving some space at the sides, top and bottom.
  • Fold it from one end.
  • Seal it.
  • Fold again.
  • Your pancakes are ready to be served with some warm milk.

 

Pancake 2 – Mawa and Coconut Stuffed Pancakes

Ingredients

For the pancakes

1 cup fine ragi flour

1 tsp castor sugar

2 eggs

1 1/4th cup coconut milk

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

A pinch of turmeric for colour (optional)

For the filling

1 1/4th cup grated khoya/mawa or solidified milk

3/4th cup grated coconut

1 tsp cardamom powder

1/2 cup sugar

Method

  • Follow the same process as you did for the rice pancake.
  • I have used a little more coconut milk and baking soda here, because ragi is a coarse flour. And you don’t need to sift it, just plonk a cup of it into the mixing bowl.
  • Leave it to rest and attack the deliciousness that is going to be this filling.
  • In a pan on low heat, mix the grated khoya and the grated coconut. (Again, while you do the rest or finish off some pending work, get your kids to do the grating. It’s good for their muscles!)
  • Now add the sugar and cardamom powder. I have used a little less sugar and a little more coconut for this stuffing, because, the sugar will melt and the milk solids will combine with it.
  • You will need the coconut to retain a certain coarse texture. Also, less sugar because the mawa also has an intrinsic sweetness and I don’t want the filling to be sickly sweet.
  • Once the sugar melts and you get a holistic mix, keep stirring until all the water has evaporated and you have a solid, mushy mix. You can see that the additional coconut has lent to the texture.
  • Now follow and repeat the same process of making and folding the pancakes as mentioned in the first recipe.
  • Done! This one makes a rich and satisfying pancake when served with some warm saffron milk. (I mean, why not make it just that much extra special! Right?)

Tips

  • In the first filling, I have used palm jaggery. You can use palm sugar instead or plain jaggery if you wish. But palm jaggery adds a very distinct flavour to the filling and is full of nutrition and also aids in digestion and is a great cleansing agent for your body; just to point out a few of its benefits.
  • Either batter for the pancake will make soft and fluffy pancakes. Just make sure at any point the pan is not too hot, so please remember to cook on low to medium heat, while you pay constant attention to the heat of the pan.
  • The pancake batters must be of the consistency mentioned, or you will be left with crispy dosa like things that just won’t fold.
  • For the second filling, I have used white sugar, which you could substitute with brown sugar. But I like the purity of the colour, therefore I go with white!
  • Please make sure both fillings are made on medium heat, so as the ensure the jaggery or the sugar doesn’t get burnt. Unfortunately, there isn’t a short cut to this one.
  • You can make both these pancakes for Sunday breakfasts or make them for festive occasions. Both fillings can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. Just make sure you heat them in the microwave until warm before you stuff them in the pancake.
  • You can definitely use the first pancake recipe with the second filling and vice versa.
  • Traditionally, these pancakes are eaten just by themselves, but I like to serve them with honey and butter or warm milk, because it just lends that much more juiciness to the already delicious pancake. (Boy, I’m drooling even while I write this post!) You can substitute the milk, with almond milk or cashew milk too.
  • If you are left with any filling that may be left over, roll them into laddoos and roll the laddoos over freshly grated coconut and you have another dessert ready with almost zero effort!

So, there you have it 2 versions of the Sri Lankan pancake with my twists! I know these are a little time consuming, but well, be patient and taste the sweetest fruit! These are fairly rich, but, both of them are packed with fibres and nutrients. So, while you do gorge on the yummy pancakes your body will be busy thanking you for it! That’s that for now. Keep cooking with your kids, keep experimenting. Do follow me on Instagram and Facebook and do mention in the comments section if there is a specific query that I can address or a request that I could honour. Until next time then!

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