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Oct 31, 2012 10:44 PM

Savory Pancakes: Home Cooking Dish of the Month (Nov. 2012)

Welcome to the reporting thread for November's Home Cooking Dish of the Month, Savory Pancakes!

If you are interested in how we got here, please take a look at the voting thread:
And the nomination thread here:
There is always a lot of interesting discussion in the preliminary threads.

We've got a broad category this month, one that can encompass many world-wide cuisines. I thought Westminstress offered a particularly useful description of savory pancakes in the voting thread:
"… a savory batter, often containing veggies or protein, cooked in a skillet or on a griddle. Can be large or small. Love potato pancakes, okonomiyaki, and especially pa jun (Korean pancakes), but there are so many other good ones. Zucchini, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, cabbage - all can be grated and turned into delicious pancakes! Add bacon, chopped shrimp, herbs, cheese, even oysters. (not all at the same time of course!)"

What we are cooking this month is a pancake with savory ingredients in the batter (or dough, in some cases), not a plain pancake with savory fillings. If you need inspiration, dkennedy did a lot of legwork, and presented a list of links here:

Everyone is welcome to participate, whether you've been a chowhound for years, or you're dipping in for the first time. You can make savory pancakes once, or every day. You can prepare a new recipe, an old favorite, or just invent something. Once you've made your pancakes, come back here and share your experience. Tell us a bit about your recipe, your ingredients, your preparation, and your results. Photographs are always welcome. If you are the first person to report on a recipe, please hit the reply button in this post. If you are responding to someone else's post, please hit the reply button in that post.

Please remember to paraphrase any recipes that are not your own; verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

I'll leave you with a Maltese proverb: "He who goes to bed hungry dreams of pancakes."
I'm not sure what that means, but let's start dreaming!

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  1. What a delightful proverb! I googled (in vain) for Maltese pancakes of some kind. Which explains why they dream about them, I s'pose.

    1. Thanks, LN..! I'm good with the savories. I have my Okonomiyaki recipes at the ready... Love those. Plus Chinese scallion pancakes and a few others I'll be cooking. I must confess tho, I've never actually dreamed of pancakes...

      1. do potato latkes(potato pancakes) ciount?

        1 Reply
        1. re: jpr54_1

          Latkes of all kinds definitely count! I plan on making a bunch this month and even more next month for Hannukah.

        2. I think I am going to take a basic buttermilk pancake batter and add Chinese pork floss to it. Then eat it topped with real maple syrup and garnished with chili flakes.

          1. I LOVE savory pancakes, but my son has an egg allergy so I've stopped making them. Does anyone have a good egg-free recipe? I used to make pajeon and an arepa-like concoction with masa harina and veggies mixed in all the time.

            23 Replies
            1. re: Pia

              I've been looking at recipes for Chinese scallion pancakes. They're made with more of a dough than a batter, and don't have eggs. That's one possibility.

              1. re: Pia

                Is your son allergic to the white or the yellow or both?

                1. re: Pia

                  Besan chilla is a great savory Indian pancake without eggs. It is made with chickpea flour.

                  1. re: blinknoodle

                    Blinknoodle, do you have a recipe for besan chilla? Dosa is the only Indian savoury pancake that I know of and for the life of me, I can't make it well! It will be an added challenge for me this month - make dosa batter in PicklIt jar :)

                    There is also paratha but it is dough-based. Pakora might qualify as a savoury pancake- LN, please make a ruling on pakoras.

                    1. re: herby

                      I'd say uttapam count as savory Indian pancakes, too. And of course, like dosai, they rely on that tricky fermented dal/rice batter.

                      1. re: herby

                        There are going to be some thin lines between pancakes, fritters, flatbreads, etc. I think we're going to have to leave some of the determinations up to the contributors on the thread. I think that scallion pancakes fit in. They are dough based, but they seem like a pancake. I think some fritters can fit in, when they are made like pancakes. But fritters that are items dipped in batter and fried, cannot be considered pancakes. I think pakoras might straddle that fence, right?

                        So, if it looks like a pancake, and it's savory, it's in. How's that for an ambiguous, subjective answer?

                        1. re: herby

                          Not Blinknoodle, but here is how I make besan chilas (there are variations to this recipe out there). They are very easy to make, as the batter does not require grinding or fermentation. My kids love these and they are a favorite weekend breakfast. Very easy and healthy too.

                          You need a round bottom metal ladle or cup and a tawa (griddle with handle).

                          1 C besan
                          1/5 cup rice flour (optional)
                          1 C water
                          1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp red chilly powder, 1/4 tsp haldi
                          Mix the besan, rice flour, salt and spices in a bowl. Whisk in more than half the water, and add the rest little at a time. You may not use all the water. The batter must be thinner than pancake batter. It must coat the back of a wooden spoon, but pour very easily.
                          Set the batter aside for ~ 15 minutes, the besan will swell a little and may settle, just mix again. If it thickens too much you may find yourself adding the remaining water, but this is not guaranteed. You can make the batter ahead of time and refrigerate. Just mix when you take it out.
                          Heat the tawa good and hot. Drip a few drops of oil, butter, or rub with a cut onion.
                          Pour one ladleful of the batter on the tawa. Immediately pick the tawa up and turn it round so that the batter spreads out in a thin later (you don't want it to pool thickly in the middle, but form a thin circle). If the pan is well heated, little bubbles / holes will form on the surface. In a few minutes, the underside will turn a rich golden brown. Flip it over and do the other side (less time than the first). Serve hot with any chutney, achaar, raita, etc.
                          They cook quite quickly. Sometimes you may find yourself keeping a metal dishcover handy and covering the chila as it cooks on the first side, so that it steams and cooks thoroughly, but I typically don't bother doing this, it cooks anyway if the batter is the correct consistency. If your batter is on the thick side you can do this.

                          If you have dosai batter, you can make dosais or uthappams.

                          Other savory South Indian pancakes made of soaked and ground dals, but not fermented, are adais, and pesarattus (very South Beach diet friendly). These are very easy because no need for fermenting. Just need a good grinder and a few hours soaking time.

                          Paratha is more a flatbread than a pancake. Chilas, dosais, uthappams, adais, pesarattus, etc, are definitely more like pancakes. Uthappam probably has the consistency that most resembles a savory pancake.

                          1. re: Rasam

                            Many thanks, Rasam, for such detailed instructions! Your recipe and instructions are in my pepperplate! I do have a tawa and two SS ladles with a round bottom - sauce and soup sizes. Is haldi = asafoetida?

                            My SIN is gluten intolerant and I am always interested in breads and such that do not use regular flour. I have besan and rice flour and will give these a go this weekend. I have lemon pickle that I think will go well with chilas.

                            Do you know how to make dosai dough? I love both dosa and idly and can see my daughters' families acquiring a loving taste for both :) I even have an idly pot - just wish I can make them come out all puffy and light and not tough and flat as mine do...

                            ETA: Oh, I got it; haldi is Punjabi for tumeric, right?

                            1. re: herby

                              haldi (hull-dee, with a soft d) = turmeric. in Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu, and many other Indian languages

                              SIN? (sister or son-in-??).

                              Lemon pickle is good on the side. Drink a thin lassi (salty or sweet) on the side if liked.

                              Here is a good link for idli / dosai batter (it's a batter that is ground and fermented, not a dough that is kneaded), with lots of explanations and pictures:


                              My only additional tip to the above is to add a half-handful of cooked white rice to the batter mix, just after grinding and before you put it aside to ferment. Squish it thoroughly in your hands and hand-mix it in. The cooked rice jump starts the fermenting process. I learned this tip from my scientist mom.

                              My experience with making idlis soft and fluffy is also a little hit or miss. Sometimes you can cheat and add a pinch of baking soda. The freshest batter makes the best idlis. You can refrigerate the batter, but after the first day dilute it and make dosais / uthappams etc.
                              The proportions of rice to dal for uthappams and dosais are a little different than for idlis, but if you have leftover idli batter, then you can make the other items better than trying to make idlis that will fall flat.

                              1. re: Rasam

                                Rasam, thank you very much for such a detailed reply! The link is great and I'll save it to use as a reference when I finally do make idli :) One more question: what equipment do you use to grind rice and dal? I have blender and food processor - FP should work, right?

                                SIN stands for son in law.

                                1. re: herby

                                  Hi Herby:
                                  I actually have an Ultra Grinder that I love, and it's dedicated for this use. But other people have had good results using a FP.
                                  This link:
                                  suggests you reduce the ratio of rice:dal and make it 3:1 if using a FP. I haven't tried this.
                                  The thing is that idlis can be temperamental and it takes several batches of experimentation changing the variables (ratios, grinding, water, etc.) one by one to suit your local conditions and ingredients to get it right.
                                  The plus side is that as you are experimenting, you can use any sub optimal batter to make dosais, so it's all good :)

                            2. re: Rasam

                              I have been wondering and asking around for a while if there is an Indian version of a besan pancake--I've only seen the ground pulse dosa and adai. I'm excited about this savory pancake dish of the month because many of my quick meals tend towards this direction. Last night I made one of my favorite, which I think was based off a Mark Bittman column about making socca with shrimp (where I believe he also experimented with adding baking soda), but can't find the reference anymore. In any case, I've been making variations on this with different vegetable fillings for a while, particularly on days when I want to eat within 20 minutes of getting home, and especially if I've run out of fresh stuff and just have pantry and freezer goods.

                              1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
                              ~1 cup warm water (or water plus sherry from marinating shrimp)
                              1/2 t salt
                              1/2 cup green onions and/or additional herbs like parsley
                              greens (I used arugula that was about to go bad this time) or frozen peas or corn
                              3 T sherry
                              4T olive oil
                              black pepper
                              1 t red pepper (I like piment d'Espelette or New Mexico) (optional)

                              1- preheat the oven to 450
                              2- start the the shrimp marinating in sherry, black pepper and a couple spoonfuls of the green onion.
                              3- mix the chickpea flour, warm water, and salt, let sit ~ 10 minutes
                              4- chop your herbs and vegetables and add to the batter
                              5- start a cast iron skillet heating on your stove
                              6- drain sherry off the shrimp and add the sherry to the batter. Add a little olive oil to cover the shrimp.
                              7- add 2 T olive oil to the batter, stir thoroughly, and pour batter into heated pan until about 1/4 inch thick
                              8- drizzle additional olive oil around the edges of the pan
                              9- when batter begins to brown around the outsides, and bubble near the inside, similar to when you would flip a breakfast pancake, arrange the shrimp on top.
                              10- place in oven for 3-8 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through
                              11- let cool slightly, as it is easier to remove after cooling. Can be cut into pizza like slices for serving.

                              So, it has vegetables and shrimp in the batter, and it isn't cooked until browned on top (I realized I really like the gooey middle), so it's not a traditional socca, but it is good.
                              I have also made this stovetop only, with a flip in a nonstick pan, which is easier and quicker, but not quite as good (mostly because of less browning).

                                1. re:

                                  This sounded so good that I impulse- bought some overpriced garbanzo bean flour at a health foods store today... Looking forward to trying out socca!

                                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                                    Hope they turn out well. If you like them and plan to repeat, get the flour from an Indian store, way cheaper. It's called 'besan' (pronounced like the basin part of washbasin).

                            3. re: blinknoodle

                              Another version made by my neighbor: soak 1/3 cup each: chana dal, urad dal, and masoor or toor dal for two hours with a pinch of fenugreek seeds - then grind in your food processor with salt and a handful of greens. I added 1/2 to 1 cup of besan/chickpea flour and water to make a pancake batter. Serve with coconut chutney and cilantro chutney.

                              1. re: Cynsa

                                Yup, that's an adai. You can also add 1/4 cup rice to the batter. This gives a crispier final product, and "completes" the protein for those who ponder such matters.

                                1. re: Rasam

                                  My friend calls this broken dal adai and uses it to get rid of the bottom of the bin of her dal collection.

                            4. re: Pia

                              I'm allergic to eggs. As long as you are making the pancakes from scratch and not using a mix, I find that Ener-G egg replacer works pretty well. Ener-G is a powdered product that is completely egg free - I get it at the local health food store - it comes in a yellow box with pictures of baked goods on the front. I've seen it carried at a couple of 'regular' grocery stores, but you'll probably have to find it on your own - any time I've asked an employee if they have egg replacer they look at me cockeyed and say: "You mean eggbeaters?"

                              I've also used babyfood bananas, sweet potato, or squash to replace eggs. This makes a denser pancake than egg replacer, but still good. Some folks use applesauce, but I'm allergic to apples as well, so I've never tried it.

                              1. re: jw615

                                Thanks, great tip! I will try to find the Ener-G egg replacer. And thanks to the rest of you with egg-free ideas!

                              2. re: Pia

                                I don't know if socca is what you are looking for, but it is egg free and really easy to make. It's similar to some of the suggestions below, but of Spanish origin I think. Also gluten free for those who can't have gluten. It comes out crispy and really tasty. The topping options are limitless, starting with no topping, to arugula salad, pizza toppings, salsa with cheddar, or anything you want really. I posted my recipe here.

                                1. re: panthera

                                  a recipe for socca in Ottolenghi' Plenty - its from the French Riviera

                                  ligurian farinata is similar.