Tag Archives: India

It’s Groun… err. Pancake Day!

Well, as you probably know today is pancake day. I thought I’d celebrate it with a nice festive nut roast, but unfortunately I didn’t have the ingredients so I decided to go with a less conventional choice: Pancakes.

The problem with growing up, I find, is that you’ve figured out your parents secrets. Well, some of them anyway. When I was younger my parents often cooked breakfast on weekends. Most of them my mother made, but my father cooked occasionally. In particular he specialised in cooking crepes. We called them english pancakes (to distinguish them from American pancakes). We always considered these a great treat, as we didn’t get them very often.

The secret? They’re actually really easy to make. The batter takes 5 minutes with a food processor. I mean, sure, his are probably a bit better than mine. But the basic principle is almost no effort at all (well, ask me again once I’ve washed everything up).

What I used

1 cup white flower
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1.5 cups milk
A very small amount of vegetable oil (for frying)

What I did

It’s completely possible to do this without a food processor. That being said, I have a food processor and am lazy. Place bets on my not using it?

So, what did I do? First, I shoved everything in the food processor and hit blend until it was smooth. There, mix is done.

Now, I know you, and I know you looked at that ingredients list and thought “Bloody hell David, that’s a lot of pancakes”. Well, maybe you’re less inclined to casual blasphemy than I am and thought “Gosh durn Davey boy, that there be a lot of pancakes”. Same principle though. Well, you’re right. So the next thing I did was immediately transfer half the mix to a plastic container and stick it in the fridge. Pancakes for breakfast it is.

Cooking the pancakes was straightforward. I heated up a nonstick frying pan. It’s important to heat it up first. If you put the pancake on a cold pan it will die of hypothermia. Or possibly just stick really badly. Oh well, the first one stuck really badly anyway. Probably partly because I didn’t let it heat up enough, but I remembered that my dad usually put a tiny bit of vegetable oil in the first one to stop this from happening, so I added a bit after I removed this one.

Once the pan is hot, I pour a little bit of mix into it and rapidly tilt it round until the bottom of the pan is covered. You need to judge the amount right, but too much is better than too little – too much and you get thick pancakes, too little and you get mangled pancakes.

Once the bottom of the pan is covered, I left it on the heat, shaking the pan occasionally until the pancake moved freely on it (don’t worry if it sticks at first – it will do that until the base is cooked). Once it was at that state I peeked at the bottom every now and then to see what colour it was and when it was the right colour (it should be a light golden brown, but I’m sure you know what pancakes look like) flipped it over and repeated the process of occasional peeking until it was the right colour (this side shouldn’t stick).

I then served with lemon juice and sugar. I’d intended to try some sort of savoury vegetable filling as a nod to a balanced diet (with Ollie, my lunchtime provider of salads, currently in deepest darkest India, the vegetable content in my diet isn’t great at the moment), but I didn’t. Why? Because a) A savoury vegetable filling was more work and b) Lemon juice and sugar is just too damn nice.


Mmm. Pancakes.

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Spicy Egg and Potatoes

So, it’s not yet noon and I sit here eating curry. “Why?”, I hear you ask. It is because of the following conversation:

Me: Ooh, that looks good. I want to make something like that.
Also Me: What, now?
Me: Yes!
Also Me: But it’s 10:30AM and we haven’t eaten yet. That’s clearly not breakfast food.
Me: I don’t care.
Also Me: Lets eat something sensible.
Also Me: Oh fine. Be like that.
Me: Yay! Curry!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve recently been linked to by Naughty Curry (given that I had about 5 people reading this before, the chances are you came over here from there in the first place). Consequently I’ve been browsing their archives, and encountered a number of interesting spiced egg dishes. This one in particular inspired me.

Of course, by ‘inspired’ I don’t mean to imply that I followed the recipe or anything so dramatic. That would just be silly. The dish looked nice: I certainly wouldn’t say no if someone handed it to me (indeed I would probably be saying “Mind if I have some more?” in short order), but for various reasons I didn’t really feel like making the specific dish. I’ve recently perfected my sweet and spicy coconut curry sauce recipe, so I’m a little tired of coconut. Also I tend to prefer to cook somewhat drier dishes, and do not as a rule include tomatoes in my cooking. So, when I say inspired what I really mean is “Wellll… there’s egg in it. And onion and stuff”. After all, I’m sure I know better about cooking Indian food than someone who’s merely from India. Right…

Also, while browsing other sites linked from Naughty Curry I encountered this article. Very different from how I do things, but that doesn’t neccesarily mean it’s wrong. I am not above learning new things. So, I figured, why not?

Anyway, onwards and forwards to the recipe itself!

What I used:

2 medium red onions
4 medium-large potatoes
3 eggs (well, sortof).
2 large cloves of garlic
1.5 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp black onion seeds
3 dried red chillies
0.5 tsp turmeric
A bit over 0.5 tbsp course sea salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil

What I did:

Ok, the first thing to do is to cook the eggs and potatoes. The potatoes are unproblematic – bung them in boiling water until they’re soft enough. (Saying that, I screwed up and undercooked them slightly, but this proved not to be a problem).

I hard cooked the eggs, following the instructions from ‘The Good Egg’. The basic instructions go like this: Bring to nearly the boil, take off the heat and cover. Leave to sit for 15 minutes. Then replace the hot water with cold, add some ice and leave to cool.

I’d gotten to the leaving it to cool stage and had left it for about 5 minutes when I realised that she recommends you crack the top of the egg slightly. Presumably this allows the egg to peel away from the shell as it cools. So, I took one of the eggs and tapped it lightly against the side of the pan.


The egg broke apart to reveal white barely cooked egg goo. I was not impressed.

I have no idea what I did wrong, but I solved the problem with the remaining two by sticking them back on the heat and boiling the hell out of them. When I took them off the heat they were cooked perfectly.

Anyway, on to the actual recipe.

First I dry fried the whole spices to toast them lightly. Then I transferred them to a mortal and pestle and crushed them a little bit (not completely – about a quarter of the spices got powdered. The rest remained whole or slightly broken).

After I’d removed the spices I diced the onion coarsely and put it in the pan with the salt (and no oil). This fried surprisingly well all told – I think the salt really did help here. After about 5-10 minutes frying I added the spices to the onions.

At this point I observed that things really were burning onto the bottom of the pan quite spectacularly. That was unfortunate – if I let this state of affairs continue I would never ever get the damn thing clean. So I applied the standard steam cleaning trick: Push the food out of the way, pour a bit of water onto it. Let that steam for a moment to loosen the burned on stuff and then (before it all evaporates) scrape like hell with the spatula. Move food around to uncover a different part of the base, repeat. This done I continued to stir it and didn’t need to do this again until I was already going to be adding some water anyway.

While that was cooking I diced the potatoes into cubes a bit under a cm on a side. I added these to the onions and then added the oil at this point – I wanted to make sure the potatoes were properly heated as they were undercooked. In the end this was probably unnecesary as I decided to add water to the mix to cook them, so after frying for another few minutes I half covered it with water, put a lid on the pot and left it, stirring occasionally. It probably took about 5-10 minutes before the potatoes were cooked.

At this point I was thinking it looked very brown, so I added some turmeric. Now it looked very brown but had turmeric in it.

Then I chopped the egg up (to about the size I would use for egg salad), added it to the mix and stirred for a little longer. The result was a rather unappetising looking brown mess.


So, I now had a plateful of the aforementioned brown mess. Oh well, I suppose I’d better… Wow. That’s really good.

Ok, this was by no means perfect, but it was pretty damn good. It had a really strong hot spicy flavour to it which many of my curries lack. Not subtle by any means, but very nice. Also, surprisingly, it wasn’t nearly as hot as it might have been – certainly not mouthburningly so. It could easily afford to have another chilli or two in it. This flavour owed an awful lot to the new way of cooking onions. I’m not saying I’m a total convert by any means – it probably wouldn’t work that well for some of my other dishes. It is however very nice in something like this.

What I’d change if I did it again: Firstly, the potato and egg combination was a mistake. It wasn’t bad mind you, but this would work much better as a straight egg dish or a straight potato dish. Secondly, I’d use a bit less salt. The saltiness was nice but just a little too strong.

Other than that, definitely a dish well done.

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