By Mini Ribeiro
A lot can be done to give the regular pancake a twist. To flambé, pour the spirit (brandy and cherry brandy seem to be popular choices) on top of the pancake in the warm pan and then ignite. That looks exciting and it is fun to watch. I am truly fascinated by the way chefs do it.
I personally enjoy both sweet and savoury pancakes. Can never make up my mind which ones I relish more. With maple syrup, pancakes taste delicious. Even the fruit ones are unique and I am free of guilt when I indulge in those. Banana can be used either mashed or chopped. Just add a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent them from going brown. Stewed apples with cinnamon give an apple-pie type filling.
Savoury pancakes can be unique too. I once tasted a Chicken-mozzarella and spinach pancake at a roadside stall in Cyprus. It was extraordinary and the taste still lingers in my mouth.
Goans love their pancakes. And usually enjoy them at tea time. Goa Marriott Resort & Spa serves some delectable ones. Their Sweet Pancake and Eggless Pancakes are matchless. But the Caramel chilly and Peanut butter and banana with granola are to die for and bear ample testimony to the chef’s creativity. "Considering the local dessert, Alle Belle which is basically stuffed with coconut and jaggery filling, we have used the same for American pancakes and it has been very popular," reveals Chef Sunil Kumar, Executive Chef, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa.
Fillings for pancakes can be myriad. Potatoes, meats, vegetables in various combinations. Mascaporne cheese makes a great filling too, though a trifle heavy, I must confess. Even the batters can be different. While the typical batter is made of flour (maida), besan or gram flour too is used for pancakes called chillas. Kolkata serves great ones at roadside stalls. Again dosa batter is made of rice and dal, ground to a paste. My grandmom used to add buttermilk to her pancake batter. I know someone who even adds grated potatoes to her batter and the result is crisp, savoury pancakes. But I prefer the traditional pancake batter and rather experiment with the fillings only. Follow this recipe for a pancake and you will never go wrong. It is tried and tested.
(Mini Ribeiro is a food writer and columnist)
125 gms plain flour, a pinch of salt, 1 full egg, 1 egg yolk only, 225ml whole milk, small blob of butter
Sift the flour in a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, and pour the egg and the yolk into it. Mix the milk with 2 tbsp water and then pour a little in with the egg and beat well. Whisk the flour into the liquid ingredients, pouring it gradually into the middle until you have a smooth paste. Whisk the rest of the milk in until the batter is creamier. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Heat the butter in a frying pan on a medium-high heat. It should be hot enough that the batter sizzles. Spread a small ladleful of batter across the bottom of the pan, quickly spreading it out. When it begins to set, loosen the edges with a thin spatula and when it begins to colour on the bottom, flip it over and cook for another 30 seconds. Pancakes are best eaten hot, before they become cold and rubbery.Serve with maple syrup.