With the bounty of spring and the endowment of the harvest season in tow, the present time is one of feasting before bowing down to some fasting regimes. And one very interesting tradition that marks the extraction of the ‘e’ out of the feast is the celebration of Shrove Tuesday.
Every year on the seventh week leading to Easter, exactly 47 days preceding it to be precise, the world celebrates Shrove Tuesday by eating pancakes. As a means to use up rich foods like milk, butter and sugar which are pledged to be refrained from the following day, pancakes are prepared for indulgent consumption. Throughout the world, the preparation varies because pancakes are diversely interpreted in different countries across the globe. Gear up for Shrove Tuesday 2020 on 25th February by having your favorite pick of the many types of pancakes around the world for a true gastronomic delight-
Well, hotcakes are what the classic American pancakes are also popular as. However since we are listing types of pancakes in here, we thought it better and more appropriate to classify it as hotcakes for disambiguity. But whatever the underlying basis for the interpretation, these classic pancakes are made from a sweetened batter of flour and milk or water or both, with or without eggs as you prefer and cooked by spreading it round over minimal oil on a pan.
Of course you can adhere to your minimalist ideals and have them with a cup of coffee or load them up with whipped cream, maple syrup, honey, chocolate chips, fruits and/ or whatever assortment of toppings you like. Since these hotcakes generally make use of baking powder in the batter, they tend to be softer and fluffier than other variants of the pancake. What better therefore than to start your day the American style with a breakfast as delicious as those stacks of gourmet beauties?!
As a food option, crepes present themselves as exclusive fantasies on the menu but they in fact are very similar to pancakes. An European speciality, a French ‘exclusif’ to be precise, crepes generally are thinner than pancakes even when both of these goodies draw from the same batter. Crepes are very often referred to being a very thin type of pancake, which draws from the way the batter is spread on the pan. Perhaps it is only on the basis of this look and the region from where they are that pancakes and crepes are demarcated. Essentially then, we would put these European crepes as very much a type in our roundabout of pancakes!
Also crepes have been traditionally a bit more encompassing than pancakes as the former has have had both sweet and savoury interpretations. Not to say that pancakes can’t be savoury, their indeed are not so sweet versions of it as well. But in being classically more ‘adaptive’ crepes is perhaps the less fanatic pancake! So if you resonate more with the ‘flexibility’ of crepes- mind you, they often come folded as well (!), you can prefer them with your morning tea plain or stuffed, with nutella, jam et al or eggs, cheese, veggies as per the demands of your foodie mood.
Now this is a pancake with a difference. In fact not just ‘a’ but a host of differences! Hailing from Russia, this essentially savoury favorite is made from wheat flour or buckwheat flour, essentially eaten during the Maslenitsa festival in the country. Typically enjoyed with sour cream, butter or caviar, the most traditional versions are made from yeasted batter and are generally baked. While modern day influences has come to mean that blini are pan fried as well making them more adherent to the pancake ‘principles’, they still have retained their uniqueness to remain dominantly one among the many types of pancakes.
A very misleading pancake, the Dutch Baby is in fact a German staple. Also baked like the blini, dutch babies tend to be thicker pancakes made from an unleavened but otherwise basic pancake batter. Sweetened with sugar and served hot with fresh squeezed lemon, butter, and powdered sugar, fruit toppings or syrup, the Dutch Baby puffs up on baking but deflates thereafter making it therefore more akin to those comparatively flatter pancakes we have been so accustomed to all throughout.
Essentially called potato pancakes after the staple ingredient, dranikis are Belarusian pancakes. Made from mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes combined with flour and egg or applesauce and pan fried, dranikis can be enjoyed sweet, salty or plain. What makes the draniki a standout in its own right that it again is a type of the many interpretations that potato pancakes has taken across places and over time.
Enough of sweet and savoury pancakes, make way for some sour ones as well. The Ethiopian Injeras are somewhat thinner than regular pancakes and also do not make use of regular flour. The sour flatbreads from Ethiopia use the gluten free teff flour which while making it nutritious is not a very worthy pick for preparing a raised bread. Injera therefore makes use of yeast in the batter which classic pancakes don’t rely on.
But it isn’t just the teff and the yeast the makes Injeras different. The fermentation process spawns a couple of days giving Injera its characteristic sour flavour. Also baked on a griddle, injera isn’t just a food, it serves as the platter as well! The porous texture of the injera makes it good for scooping up stews and soups poured over it. After the scooping up has been completed, the injera also is eaten up as very much a wholesome, main meal of the day.
Dosa is the Indian version of the pancake and one that is radically different from any other of its kind. Prepared light and thin from a fermented batter of soaked rice and lentils and resemblant more of the crepe, dosas come crispy and savoury. Of course you can have fusion combos like chocolate dosa and all, but traditionally dosas have never been sweet. Native to the southern region of the country, dosas can be had plain or masalafied, with fillings that can include veggies, cheese and even meat, but they are always accompanied by a vegetable soup sambar and coconut chutney.
Bing is the savoury Chinese pancake that doubles up as a hearty lunch or a scrumptious snack- the way you prefer to have it. An all encompassing term that sums up an assortment of quite some few types of pancakes native to the country, bing also comes with variations in texture and taste. Made from wheat flour and typically cooked on griddles, bing can however also be baked sometimes.
Pajeon is the Korean style of pancakes that basically is a scallion pancake to be precise. Just water and flour goes into making the batter that incorporates fried scallions in its fold, thereafter shallow fried in oil and served with soy sauce as a dip. There can also be seafood pajeons or egg ones, and other such variations that Korea savours widely particularly during the rainy season.
Another ‘Asian’ pancake that owes its origin to the country of Japan, the okonomiyaki is a savory preparation of literally whatever you like it to be! Made from a batter of wheat flour that also has eggs and veggies, Okonomiyakis can also be prepared diversely. Whether you incorporate the ingredients into the batter itself or layer them after spreading the batter on the pan, the style of okonomiyaki you would have would depend on where in Japan you choose to have its pancakes. But no matter the method of preparation, okonomiyas need to be paired with the namesake okonomi sauce and some Japanese mayonnaise for the true blue authentic taste.
Translating literally as sizzling pancake, banh xeo are Vietnamese staples that takes its name from the sizzling sound made by the pancake batter when poured over a hot pan. The savoury preparation makes use of rice flour and turmeric powder which renders them the characteristic crisp yellow leanings. With stuffings like pork, shrimp, diced green onion, mung bean, and bean sprouts, bánh xèo are a served with lettuce, mint, Thai basil, and fish mint. Banh xeos are really distinctive pancakes in also the method of eating, these are generally torn up into small pieces and wrapped in rice sheet or lettuce and then dipped in certain types of sauces.
Of Greco- Roman origins, the palatschinke is close to being a crepe rather than the classic pancake and is known by different names in different regions. A runny dough of eggs, wheat flour, milk and salt is shallow fried on a pan and generally served as a sweet treat topped or rolled with sweet cheese or fruits and fruit jams or chocolate sauce, and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Palatschinkes though can also be served unsweetened and can be typically devoured as a meal. Eat it plain or with veggies, cheese and even some meat, but do give this diversely delectable stack a shot!
From the realm of Breton cuisine emerges the Kaletez that is in essence a buckwheat pancake thereby meaning it is a healthier work upon the classic American staple. Invented by accident but a classic street food in France now is the Kaletez gant silzig or the Galette saucisse that is generally served cold but wrapped around a warm pork sausage. Topped with mustard or mayonnaise or even ketchup, the kaletez is best relished with a glass of Breton cider on the side.
A Canadian staple that makes the best of both the worlds of wheat flour pancakes and those of buckwheat ones, Ployes are made from a runny batter that render it thin like a pancake. However, ployes tend to be really standout for the fact that unlike classic pancakes or crepes or even other buckwheat based preparations, they are cooked only on one side. Generally buttered and sweetened thereafter with molasses, maple syrup or brown sugar and also sometimes layered with cretons, ployes are served with a traditional chicken stew fricot on the side.
Tagenites also called Attanitai are ancient Greek pancakes and that’s indeed how classic this classic breakfast staple extends into history. Made with wheat flour, olive oil, honey and curdled milk, Tagenites sound somewhat different from the pancakes of the modern times but they still were served for breakfast even back then, without however the accompaniments.
Another ancient Greek pancake that was however made not out of a batter but of a dough are staitites. Spelt or hulled wheat made up these staities which came topped with honey, sesame seeds and cheese for breakfast.
Lahoh is a pancake like bread that traces its origin to Yemen. Sorghum flour generally goes into making the lahoh batter that is mixed with some warm water, salt and yeast. Traditionally baked and eaten plain with some soup or stew, lahoh has sweet and savoury interpretations as well, that generally tend to be egg based. Spongy like thicker pancakes would be, the lahoh batter also is allowed to ferment for a couple of day thereby attaining a characteristic sour tinge in the taste.
Close to the Yemeni Lahoh and the Ethiopian Injera is the Somali Canjeero that is the breakfast staple there. Made also from a fermented batter of sorghum flour, where Canjeero takes on a different identity is the period of resting. The Canjeero batter is allowed to ferment for just one day which translates also into a less sour taste. Smaller in size, canjeeros are served drizzled with butter or ghee, and sugar as breakfast. For lunch or dinner however, they are eaten with some curry or stew and with some sliced meat, garlic, onion, cumin and pepper for accompaniment.
Finally a true Dutch pancake that does not play along misleadingly like the Dutch Baby is the pannenkoek. Thinner than pancakes but not as thin as repes, pannenkoeks make use of a combination of buckwheat flour and regular flour that incorporates milk, eggs and salt. Eat them plain with some sugar beet syrup or applestroop and sugar or relish them rolled with some bacon, apple, cheese or raisins.
The South African pancakes are called plaatkoekies and are not very different from the classic ones. Meaning ‘plate cookies’, these cakes are best devoured with some butter melting on their hot backs and some marmite or golden syrup to sweeten up this divine dish.
Light and paper thin, mandarin pancakes are very obviously offerings from China. Somewhat chewy much unlike pancakes are supposed to be, these Chinese pancakes also employ a different method of preparation than regular pancakes. The dough is made of boiling water and flour and are rolled out like rotis to form thin pancakes. Interestingly, two pancakes are rolled out and cooked together to achieve the desired thinness as well as to help the cooking process. Mandarin pancakes are also typically used to wrapping a moo shu pork or Peking duck preparation which have also led them to be named Moo Shu shells or Duck pancakes.
Closer home, we have been relishing our own pancake for ages with the simplistic favorite kholasapori pitha at hand. This variety of pancake however makes use of rice flour to make the batter that can be plain, sweetened or salted. Jaggery generally makes for the sweetening agent while savoury versions incorporates some herbs and veggies and go particularly well with a refreshing cup of Assam tea.
The crepe from the coastal Indian region of Goa, alebeles need to have that coconuty thing that so defines many of India’s traditional dessert preparations. The batter is pretty much the same stuff pancakes are made of- flour and eggs and milk but after they have been shallow fried into crepes, the alebeles are stuffed with a coconut and jaggery filling that makes them such a refreshing type of pancake to gobble up.
A Welsh staple, crempogs are pancakes that arise out of a slightly different batter than the classics. A standard crempog has butter melted in warm buttermilk and then poured into a well of flour and beaten. This is then mixed with another concoction of sugar, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and beaten eggs and then made into golden crempogs by shallow frying over a griddle. Thickly piled as a stack and served with butter, crempogs are one of the earliest recipes in Wales and also make for celebratory spreads.
Baghrirs are pancakes from Morocco commonly known as the ‘thousand holes pancake’ because it indeed does turn out with numerous ‘holes’. Made from a mixture of semolina flour and wheat flour, they turn out spongy and fluffy. Baghrirs are generally consumed by dipping them in a honey- butter mixture and make for a popular breakfast or snack. Baghrirs also make it to the iftar feast during Ramadan in the region of Maghreb or Northwest Africa.