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!
- 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
- 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
- Plain yogurt mango chutney, onion chutney or whichever Indian pickles you prefer
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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