Indian Pancakes with Spiced Sweet Potato

Why not try something new this Pancake Day and make savoury Indian Pancakes with a Spiced Sweet Potato filling for dinner? You can still have my Thick and Puffy Pancakes with Maple Blueberry Syrup for pudding if you have room ;)

These Indian pancakes are Southern Indian in inspiration and are a nod and a wink towards the most flamboyant of all Indian street food – the masala dosa.  The original dosa will contain soaked rice and lentils which are fermented and ground before being used to cook a large, thin and crisp pancake.

It is only cooked on one side and you place fillings in the centre before rolling into a large, golden cylinder and eating with an array of chutneys. Thing is, that takes some planning and right now, I don’t have the time but I do have the craving for hot and spicy, and this quick version is no less satisfying to eat. I used an idea from an old Jamie Oliver show I saw to make a gram and plain flour pancake batter with some mustard seeds for flavour and it does the job very nicely indeed.

For me, the only downside of Indian food is needing every one of my four hobs for even a simple meal so I made things easier here by roasting some sweet potato in the oven with some kaloonji (nigella seeds) until soft with the barest hint of colour, rather than boiling and mashing boring old white potatoes.

I tempered some coconut oil with Southern Indian flavourings – curry leaves, more mustard seeds, hot green chillies and added plenty of finely sliced red onion for more colour and caramelised flavour, into which I add the cooked sweet potatoes. After the briefest moment to mingle in the pan, the potato filling is scooped onto the cooked pancake and dinner is served.

I love plain yogurt, onion chutney and a hot spicy mango chutney with mine but tamarind pickles and coconutty chutneys are also popular accompaniments for dosas. But of course, these aren’t dosas – they are Indian Pancakes (so not to upset any purists out there ;) ).

Happy Pancake Day!

Indian Pancakes with Spiced Sweet Potato
A different way to enjoy pancakes - hot and spicy rather than sweet! A special treat for Pancake Day in particular.
Servings: 2
: 342 kcal
Author: Just Jo
For the pancakes
  • 1/3 cup gram flour
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • Fat pinch bicarb of soda
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Oil spray
For the filling
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1.5 inch chunks
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • Oil spray
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp curry leaves
  • 1 green finger chilli finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 small red onion finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander to garnish
To serve
  • Plain yogurt mango chutney, onion chutney or whichever Indian pickles you prefer
  1. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and spray lightly with oil - sprinkle on the nigella seeds and cook at 200˚C for 25 minutes, turning halfway to colour them evenly. We want them to soften and have the barest hint of colour around the edges.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a medium sauté pan and when melted, add in the mustard seeds and curry leaves and sizzle for about 30 seconds before adding in the chilli and ginger and stirring well. Quickly, add in the sliced onions and cook until softened and starting to colour around the edges on a medium heat - I sometimes add in a splash of water if it starts to stick. This should take around 15-20 minutes (i.e. how long the potatoes will have left in the oven!).
  3. When the potatoes are cooked, scoop them into the onions and mix well but gently to avoid mashing them completely. Sprinkle with the coriander and keep warm on low heat as you cook the pancakes.
  4. Make the batter by whisking the flours, bicarb and mustard seeds together in a jug then pouring in 150-180ml cold water slowly, whisking all the time until you achieve the texture of double cream. You want it to run off the whisk without coercion.
  5. Heat a large flat frying pan or tawa on medium-high heat and spray with oil (or brush with more coconut oil if you prefer) then pour half the batter into the centre of the frying pan and immediately, use the back of a spoon to spread it out to the very edges moving in a spiral motion out from the centre (not essential but it makes the pancake an even thickness and gives that dosa-like pattern of browned concentric rings, like the cut surface of a tree).
  6. The pancake will cook in about a minute and you will see bubbles appearing. You are only cooking it on one side so as soon as the middle looks as it is drying out (but obviously not colouring), scoop out half the potatoes down the centre and fold the sides up and over to make a long cylinder. I flip over briefly with the help of two spatulas then transfer, seam side down to a warmed plate to serve. Repeat for the final half of the batter and eat with your selection of dips and chutneys.
Recipe Notes

You can make this gluten free by using rice flour instead of plain flour but you may need a little more water - go slowly as you add it and proceed as above.

Adapted from Pancake recipe adapted from one by Jamie Oliver

Nutrition Facts
Indian Pancakes with Spiced Sweet Potato
Amount Per Serving
Calories 342 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 9%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Sodium 162mg 7%
Potassium 709mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 61g 20%
Dietary Fiber 8g 32%
Sugars 10g
Protein 9g 18%
Vitamin A 368.9%
Vitamin C 24.1%
Calcium 6.1%
Iron 16.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  1. Brian Jones 09/02/2016 at 07:46 - Reply

    These look superb Jo, gotta give a go to the sweet potato thang… I am working on a load of sweet potato stuff this year trying to work out whether to plant some in the garden and this sounds right up my street!

    • Just Jo 09/02/2016 at 07:56 - Reply

      They are cooking-method sensitive but I do love them Bri. I like to peel and roast like I have here or for a quick dinner, I’ll just scrub one and microwave it instead of an ordinary white potato and have with curry, chilli, ratatouille etc. Handy ingredient to have!

  2. Elizabeth 09/02/2016 at 07:52 - Reply

    This sounds absolutely amazing! I need this recipe in my life!

    • Just Jo 09/02/2016 at 07:56 - Reply

      Thanks Elizabeth, they certainly enhance our life lol!

  3. I loooooooooove dosa! What a fun twist on the humble pancake for pancake day. We usually just have ours with sugar and lemon but this looks so much more fun. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Just Jo 09/02/2016 at 08:44 - Reply

      You’re welcome Emma! It’s good to have a change every now and then, as much as I love sweet pancakes too!

  4. Mark, CompassandFork 09/02/2016 at 09:59 - Reply

    Great idea on the pancake. I find Indian food so full of flavor and way more than just curries. Great with chutney.

    • Just Jo 09/02/2016 at 12:59 - Reply

      Absolutely – Indian is my favourite cuisine and so expansive, I could spend the rest of my life eating it and still not cover the full breadth of their culinary delights!

  5. Barely Vegan 10/02/2016 at 10:32 - Reply

    I’m loving this recipe! Indian food is my all time favorite food (cajun food is a close second!) so I know i’d love this dish. I agree with you about the only downside to Indian food. You can have A LOT going on on your stove….but it’s always worth it in the end!! I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad tasting Indian dish. Thanks for sharing.

    • Just Jo 10/02/2016 at 10:52 - Reply

      You know, I think you’re right – I can hardly recall eating a bad Indian dish! It does look like a bomb has gone off in the kitchen when we’ve finished though lol ;)

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