About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Arun Kapil Flips Pancakes!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Arun Kapil

Why do we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?
In the past Christians used to go to church to confess their sins and were absolved from them. This was called "Shriven" or "Shrive". Later this was shortened to Shrove. That's why today Pancake Day is known as Shrove Tuesday.

But why do we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?
Christians believe that Lent commemorated Jesus' 40 days in wilderness and that's why they mark this period by fasting. Shrove Tuesday was the perfect day to use up the ingredients that were given up for Lent: butter, milk, flour and of course eggs. Pancakes were a dish that could use up all the eggs, butter and milk in the house with just the addition of flour. A pancake was, in those calorie-starved days, considered a luxury.

Traditional Pancakes

I have vivid memories of my brothers and I scoffing down our tea-time food on Shrove Tuesday so we could get to the 'main event'; Mum's pancakes! Out would come the plastic spatula, mixing bowl, eggs, flour and various other impatient ingredients and off she'd go.

Whisking up fluffy, light discs of 'mannah' served with a liberal sprinkling of sugar and hefty squeeze of lemon, or spoons of Mum's home-made strawberry jam, from one of last summer's batch or the ultimate topping; Golden Syrup!! Brilliant! This recipe is based on Mum's; simple, effective, light and delicious!

Makes about 12 - 14


. 110g plain flour
. pinch of salt
. 2 large eggs
. 275ml semi skimmed milk
. butter, unsalted 2 tblsp or 50g melted (and a little extra for pan!)


1. Firstly, sift flour through fine sieve into large mixing bowl from the highest height you dare..!
2. Then, make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it.
3. Whisk the eggs in a little bowl then slowly pour into the well of flour and, using one of your (clean) hands or a fork gradually combine into the flour.
4. Then, add small quantities of the milk at a time until its all been used. Grab a rubber spatula and scrape any 'escaped' bits of flour from around the edge into the centre.
5. Grab a whisk and once again mix the ingredients until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream.
6. Add the 2 tbsp of melted the butter to the mix, whisk, then leave to rest for about 20minutes
7. Now, take your best non-stick frying pan, about 8inches or 20cm in diameter. Add a little butter to the pan, take a sheet of kitchen towel and rub around the pan's frying surface. The butter should just make the pan glisten. You don't want it running around.
8. Pop the pan on to a high flame. Heat the pan, then turn down to a medium flame
9. Add 2 or 3 tbsp of your beautiful pancake mix, grab the pan handle, tip around to evenly coat the surface with a thin layer of batter.
10. Cook to golden, you can look under the pancake using a palette knife, but each side should only take a minute...
11. Then flip the pancake over with your palette knife, cook for another minute then slide off the pan onto a warmed plate, serve and enjoy!!

Serving Suggestions:

Sprinkle of sugar and squeeze of lemon, or rivers of Golden Syrup, or your favourite jam.But how about roasting a little chopped rhubarb, caramelising some blood orange segments, adding a little powdered ginger and the beans from a vanilla pods combining and serving as a gorgeous filling; add a little Grand Marnier for extra indulgence factor!

Alternative Suggestions:

Try adding a teaspoon of ginger powder, or Green Saffron's mixed spice to the flour, before sifting into the mixing bowl for extra luxury.yum!

Dosa - Indian Crispy Pancake

Dosa's are a really popular South Indian pancake eaten at any time of the day, for breakfast, as a snack or more substantially with spiced (potato) fillings and a variety of chutneys for lunch or evening meals.

Made from a bizarrely sounding, bubbly batter of fermented rice and black lentils, they are an absolute treat and extremely versatile. I suppose you could consider them a cross between the French sour-dough bread and Western style pancakes. You'll need to plan ahead for this one, as between the soaking time and fermenting you're looking at a prep time of over 28 hours! However, after a little effort, they are really worth the time they take to prepare.

Makes about 10-12 Dosa


. 350g rinsed Basmati rice
. 150g, picked over for stones, then rinsed Urid Dahl (skinned black lentils)
. ½ tsp Fenugreek seeds
. 1 tsp Salt
. Water (as required)
. 20 tsp (two for each Dosa) Sunflower Oil


1. Take two large mixing bowls, pop the rice into one and the dahl into the other. Pour enough cold water into each bowl to very generously cover the rice and the lentils. Cover each bowl with a cloth and leave to soak overnight and no less than 8 hours. Pop the fenugreek seeds into a cup, cover with two tablespoons of cold water and leave to soak overnight and no less than 8 hours.

2. When all three have had their time soaking, drain the lentils, pop them into a food processor bowl (or blender jug) with 150ml of cold water and blitz to a smooth, pale, fluffy (as possible) paste, about 4 to 5 minutes, then pour and scrape into a large mixing bowl.

3. Next, drain the rice, pop it into your food processor bowl (or blender jug) with 150ml of cold water and blitz to a fine, granular paste and add to the mixing bowl. Add the soaked fenugreek seeds and their 'soaking water' to the mixing bowl. Then combine all the ingredients to form a thick batter, thick enough to coat a spoon, like warm, gloopy jam.

4. Cover the bowl with a cloth, pop onto a tray and place in a warm place, like your hot-press or airing-cupboard. Leave the bowl there for at least 20 hours.

5. 20 hours later, add the salt to the bowl, stir the (now) fermented batter really well and it's ready to cook!

6. Then, take your favourite non-stick frying pan, about 8inches or 20cm in diameter. Add the first teaspoon of oil to the pan, pop the pan on to a medium, high heat. Using a medium sized ladle or a ½ cup measure, dip into the Dosa batter and fill; you're looking for about 120ml of the batter.

7. Pour the batter into the centre of the pan and, using the back of the ladle and in circular, spiral motions gently spread the batter across the pan's surface. Now, get another teaspoon (or so) of oil and drizzle over the batter's surface and around its edges. Put the spoon down, grab the pan handle and swirl the oil around so it runs all around the Dosa as it continues to cook.

8. Once the upper side of the Dosa has changed to an opaque colour, the edges begin to look cooked and golden brown, after roughly 1½ minutes, turn the Dosa over. I find a silicon spatula is best for this. And cook for another minute or so. When cooked, slide the Dosa out of the frying pan and onto a warm's done!

Serving Suggestions:

Serve with a beautifully spicy Masala filling of potatoes, ginger, dahl pulses, onion, spices and a little fresh tomato..(please see below)

Masala Dosa Filling


. 3 tsp, picked over for stones Urid Dahl (skinned black lentils)
. 3 tblsp Sunflower oil
. 2, thinly sliced Onions, medium
. ¼ tsp (optional)Asafoetida
. 3 tsp Cumin seeds
. 2 tsp Black mustard seeds
. 10-15 Curry leaves, dried
. 2 Red chillies, dried
. 3tsp Turmeric
. 1 tsp Salt
. 30g, finely grated Ginger, fresh root
. 600g, peeled, diced and boiled, but still holding Potatoes, Roosters or Maris Piper
. 2, roughly diced Tomatoes, fresh
. small handful, roughly chopped fresh Coriander
. ½, juice of Lime, fresh


1. Put the lentils into small bowl, cover with hot water and allow to soak for 5 minutes.
2. Take a frying pan, put onto a medium heat, add the oil, heat, then add the onions and gently fry.
3. When the onions are light brown and slightly soft add the spices and stir around for a minute or so.
4. Then, add the salt, ginger, potatoes, tomatoes and stir to thoroughly mix.
5. Take the pan off the heat, sprinkle with the coriander and stir..
6. You now have your beautifully fragrant filling ready for your freshly made Dosas.!!

Additional / Misc' Info:

. French pancakes are very thin and crispy. They call them crêpes and are made from a batter usually consisting of flour, eggs, milk, butter and a pinch of salt. They are generally served rolled or folded around a filling. Crêpes can be sweet or savory. They are lightly sweetened and filled with things like berries or fruits. Savory are called galettes and are made from buckwheat flour and filled with cheese, meet, fish or vegetables.

. English pancakes are similar to French crêpes. They have three main ingredients: eggs, flour and milk. They may be eaten as a sweet dessert with the traditional topping of lemon juice and sugar.

. In India people enjoy eating pancakes that are prepared from fermented rice batter. These pancakes are called Dosa. Pooda is another Indian pancake. These pancakes are made in a frying pan and have similar batter to European pancakes.

. Chinese version of pancake is made with a filling. Usually filling is made from ground peanut, sugar and butter and additional condiments like sweetened coconut or egg.
. In Nepal, the Newar people have a type of savory rice pancake called chataamari. This rice pancake can be cooked with meat or eggs on top of it.

. In Germany, they are called Pfannkuchen, in Hungarian Palacsinta, in Romanian, Palacinke.

. In Hungary, pancake batter consists of flour, milk or soda water, eggs, sugar and sweet wine. Hungarian pancakes are usually served as a main dish or dessert and fillings range from sugared cottage cheese and ground walnuts to raisins and rum.

. In Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, pancakes are usually thin, filled with apricot, plum lingonberry strawberry or apple jam, chocolate sauce or hazelnut spread. They are called Palacinke.

. In Poland, thin crêpe-style pancakes are called nalesniki. They can be served with a variety of savory or sweet fillings as a main dish or dessert. Russian blinis are thin, crisp pancakes, commonly served with caviar and sour cream or folded over and filled with cream cheese or jam.

. Pannenkoeken is the Dutch version of the pancake. Traditional, Dutch pancake has around 12 inches in diameter. It is usually topped or filled with apples and cheese. Scandinavian pancakes are similar to the French crêpes. They are often served with jam and whipped cream or ice cream. Or as a main dish with a variety of savory fillings.

. American or Canadian pancakes which are also known as hotcakes, griddlecakes, or flapjacks are Scotch pancakes. They contain a raising agent, usually baking powder. And batter contains different proportions of eggs, flour, and milk or buttermilk. This creates a thick batter. Sugar and spices such as cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg can be added.

. Mexico, has tortillas, which are often served folded with a bean or meat filling and topped by tomato sauce. Moreover Mexicans have hotcakes which are more often made with cornmeal instead of wheat flour. Hotcakes are usually sold by street vendors. They are topped with different sauces such as condensed milk fruit jam or a sweet goat milk spread called "cajeta."

. Australian and New Zealand pancakes usually consist of egg, milk and flour. They are more similar to English pancakes than to American ones. They are often eaten as a dessert or for breakfast. Australian pancakes are served with toppings such as butter, peanut butter, jam, fruits or syrup.