This week, the world has been eating pancakes in celebration of the start of Lent, a period of the year lasting 364 days during which time people seem to give up eating pancakes. Where all the pancake eating comes from is a mystery to me, but I think there is some religious symbolism in there somewhere. Perhaps Jesus had a fondness for Nutella or had been on holiday to Brittany or something. Anyway, social media has been awash with pictures of flipping disasters, crepe attempts at galettes, and... ok i'll stop there.
Eating a particular food on one day of the year seems like a pretty illogical thing to do. I mean you wouldn't do something romantic for your partner, like buy some overpriced roses or a well- worded card on just one day of the year would you? No of course you wouldn't because you are a free thinker and reject society's transparently commercial attempts to restrict your romantic creativity via the medium of a card from Clintons. Likewise as a free thinker you mustn't be limited to consuming pancakes on one Tuesday in February. Go crazy, have a pancake on a Thursday. Get battered in August. I promise I won't tell.
Nearly a year ago I had a pancake sitting on a jetty in Cochin, Kerala. I don't know what came over me, maybe it was the heat or jet lag or something, but I just went for it and ordered a crepe off the menu. What the hell was I doing? Must've been the holiday mood.
A pancake. In India. On a Wednesday. In April.
It felt naughty but boy did it feel good. Like that time I took a book back to the library TWO DAYS LATE! In your face, suckers!
To say it was the best pancake I have ever had will only come across as a rebellious gloat but it really, really was. It was a rolled pancake filled with freshly grated coconut, plump dried-fruit of some kind, a bit of spice, cashews and honey. Soooooo exotic! I set about recreating it when I got home and here is my recipe. A fabulous do ahead dessert for any day of the year.
150g grated fresh coconut, water reserved from the coconut
30g cashew nuts
4 tsp runny honey
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 egg, beaten
50g plain flour
150ml semi-skimmed milk
· To make the pancake batter, sieve the flour with the salt and sugar into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Place the egg in the centre of the well with a splash of milk and stir to gently bring in the flour from the sides. Add the rest of the milk as the mixture thickens. Rest the batter for 30 minutes, then cook the pancakes and reserve between layers of kitchen paper until needed.
· Soak the sultanas in the coconut water.
· Melt the butter in a small frying pan and over a low heat, cook the cashews until golden brown. Allow to cool, then combine with the coconut, sultanas, coconut water and cardamom. Reserve until required.
· To assemble place the cold pancakes on serving plates. Place a line of the coconut mixture down the centre of each pancake then drizzle some honey down the length of the mixture. Roll up the pancake then drizzle honey over the top. Serve, with a scoop of ice-cream if you like.