A few weeks ago I made fluffy American pancakes for Sunday brunch. They got me thinking about savoury pancakes, which then got me thinking about Indian spiced pancakes for the blog…and here we are. It’s a wonderful thing when an idea materialises into something delicious on your plate…and on your Facebook wall with your friends telling you how hungry you are making them! I love the whole process: the research for the recipe and the drafting of it, the shopping for the ingredients, the initial testing, the tweaking, the retesting, the styling of the photo shoot, the shoot itself (yesterday I spent most of it shooing the cats away as they kept trying to leap onto my lovely green pancakes), being able to call it a photo shoot, finally eating it, writing about it all and then sharing it with you. It’s a joy!
When I discussed the idea of Indian pancakes with my mum, she immediately suggested Pudas, also known as Pudlas or Chillas. The French also have a version called Socca crepes. These are all made with chickpea flour/gram flour/Besan. Indians sometimes call them eggless omelettes. The French Socca crepes are usually not spiced and are larger and crispier. My dad also chimed in and said that his mum used to make the best Pudas, with chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies and coriander which he enjoyed with pickle, yogurt and garam garam (hot hot) masala chai! They have all the flavour of pakodas or bhajis but over 95% less fat! I just had to make them! Wanting to put my own twist on them and because I love spinach pakodas, I made them very green! These are vegan and gluten-free. Feel free to experiment with your favourite vegetables, but make sure they are finely chopped/thinly sliced. The next time I make these I will make them with caramelised onions!
Desi Spinach Pancakes
Makes 12 5″ Pancakes, enough for 6 people
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes (depends on how many you’re making)
1 1/2 cups (190g) Besan/gram flour/chickpea flour
250g fresh spinach (this yielded 170g or 1 cup of spinach after wilting, squeezing most of the water out and chopping)
1 medium red onion (110g), finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 1/2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup for vegans
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or to taste
2 cups water/buttermilk/thin yogurt – I used water
Sunflower/olive oil for brushing the pan, I used about 2 teaspoons, or an oil spray would be perfect here.
Start by wilting the spinach. Wash the spinach. Put a large pot on medium heat. Add the spinach to the pot and move it around a bit as it wilts. The water that clings to the spinach from the washing should be enough to wilt it.
When the spinach is wilted, drain it, let it cool, squeeze most of the water out and then finely chop it and put it aside.
Sift the Besan/gram flour into a large bowl and add the spinach and all the remaining ingredients, except the water and oil. Mix all the ingredients together and gradually add the water (or buttermilk/thin yogurt) until it is slightly runnier than a pancake batter. If you would like your pancakes thicker than mine then add a little less. My dad found my pancakes too thin, but they were fine for me. Taste the batter or make a small test pancake and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Heat a small non-stick frying pan on low-medium heat. Brush it/spray it with oil. Add 1/4 cup full of batter and spread it out with a ladle until it is about 5″ in diameter and 5mm thick. It should take about 2 minutes for the bottom to get golden brown, then flip it over and let it get the same colour on the other side.
You can also use a larger frying pan and do a few pancakes at a time. If not eating immediately, keep them wrapped in foil in a 120C/250F/Gas Mark 1/2 oven.
There are so many ways to serve these pancakes. I dipped mine in this chilli tomato chutney. My mum had them with a dollop of low-fat Greek Yogurt and mango pickle. My dad had them with a little ketchup! Our house help Julie had them with dall instead of chapatis and the cats gobbled them up just as they were. I think some low-fat sour cream/cream cheese would also go really well with these. Washing them down with masala tea/chai tea is a must!
Per Pancake (if you make 12): Calories 82, Protein 4g, Carbohydrate 12g, Sugars 3g, Fat 2g, Saturates 0g, Fibre 2g. A good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Folate and Manganese.
This recipe is being submitted to Wellness Weekend, April 26-30th, 2012