I was sorting through my holiday photos and discovered this little video I captured Al-Madina Souq in Aleppo. I re-watched it and realised it wasn’t half bad, considering it was recorded on my basic point and snap camera. I’m only sorry I didn’t record for longer. How good is this guy? Can you make pancakes as quick as him?
The pancakes he is making are closer to a flat crumpet than crepe and are almost identical to the Moroccan pancakes Beghir. In Marrakesh, these could be bought for a few Dirhams from the local women, who cooked them fresh in their kitchens and brought them to sell onto the streets of the Medina. We used to take them back to our room and enjoy them with honey.
Whilst I was researching Syrian pancakes, I came across many recipes for Ataiyef or Syrian Stuffed Pancakes (they look amazing). These are a treat enjoyed at morning and afternoon tea by the Syrian Jews, to celebrate Hanukkah. Stuffed with ricotta, fried and then soaked with syrup, they look unbelievably delicious but also unbelievably fiddly and calorific. Not what I want to be doing on a Sunday morning. Luckily, Barry Vera’s ‘Feast Bazaar’ came to the rescue with a more traditional Syrian Yoghurt Pancake. Readers may recall that it was an episode on Feast Bazaar that motivated me to organise an entire Middle Eastern trip on the strength of seeing Bakdash Icecream Salon in Damascus.
Syrian Yoghurt Pancakes
- 125g plain flour
- 250g natural yoghurt
- 60 – 100ml water
- 2 x tspns caster sugar
- 1/4 tspn ground cardamon
- 1/4 tspn ground fennel
- pinch of salt
- Sift flour into yoghurt in a bowl and whisk in 60mls of water into the mix. You are looking for a batter that is thick but pourable. If necessary, add the extra water until you have the right consistency.
- Stir in sugar, cardamon and fennel and rest overnight (or at least 4 hours) to allows spices to flavour batter.
- The next morning, add a small pinch of salt to the batter and stir again
- Heat an oiled, heavy frying pan on a medium heat. I find it just as easy to use a spray’n’cook product
- When pan is hot, ladle in half a cup of batter and swirl in pan to create medium thickness rounds*
- Cook for 2 minutes on either side to allow pancakes to brown and puff slightly. A little bit of crispiness on the edges is fine and even adds to the texture
- Put finished pancakes on a paper towel on a plate and place in low oven to keep warm
- Serve with honey and yoghurt or cheese filling (see below)
– * I found it difficult to swirl out wide, round, thin pancakes that could fold around the filling so I just made pancakes that were half the size again of a pikelet, but not as thick. I’m afraid it will be trial and error but there’s plenty of batter and we all know the first pancake made is never as good as the last.
– Barry Vera’s suggested filling is goat’s curd and honey. The stuffed pancakes use ricotta and are soaked in syrup. I improvised and used a mix of half cottage cheese, half natural yoghurt for the filling and then drizzled with honey. The fresh fruit is my own addition, the first of the new season cherries.
I was fascinated to read the modern history of the Jewish community in Syria, with the remaining community leaving Syria as late as 1992, most settling in Brooklyn, USA. There are reported to be only 25 Jewish people remaining in the whole of Syria. If you are interested, you can read more about it here or here.