WHEN we were at school, my friends would rave about making pancakes at home and I really enjoyed learning about this tradition during Home Economics. The pancake flipping fun we had at school made me feel a part of the build up to Easter celebrations.

My Indian parents never heard of Shrove Tuesday or ‘Pancake Day’, the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and I was fascinated to learn about the celebration being a feast before the fasting commenced, allowing people to use up their eggs and fat.

My ‘pancake’ at home was a traditional buttered chapatti, usually served with a vegetable dish. Only recently have I discovered the fun of cooking and experimenting with pancakes and it’s been a revelation to realise just how many ways you can find to serve up the humble pancake!

When you start looking at recipes from around the world, you’ll find so many versions of pancakes: the French/Belgian crêpe style, sweet or savoury, baked or even in a cupcake! Nowadays the versatile pancake can be American fluffy, dosa style (made with gram flour), Russian blinis, Irish Boxty (potato pancake) - the list is endless. What’s more, pancakes can be made to suit various diets - vegan, gluten free and more - the base ingredients are mostly the same.

There doesn’t need to be a special day to cook pancakes either; I’ve made them for special calendar days such as Valentine’s Day or Halloween, and it’s also a good excuse to use up seasonal gluts of produce such as the apple or cherry harvest.

You’ll find pancakes of one variety or another on breakfast, brunch and dessert menus daily in cafés around the world, but my preference is a sweet-tasting, late breakfast pancake.

Over recent years I’ve tried many recipes, from healthy to full fat, sweet laden with honey or maple syrup, fruit filled and even with a savoury ‘pizza’ topping! After much experimentation I have finally found the best way to prepare my favourites, which are simply plain mini pancakes with a sweet compote jam and cream, topped with fruit. These are the cutest, fluffiest, lightest treats to eat for breakfast... and easy to flip too!

Chai Spiced Mini Pancakes. Serves two. Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes


1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

1 tablespoon honey

1 medium egg

½ cup milk of choice

½ teaspoon chai spice (optional)

½ teaspoon vanilla paste

Choice of fruit for topping

Sprinkle of salt

2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup whipped cream


* Half (or keep whole) the strawberries and smother in a tablespoon of sugar

* Pour the cream into a deep bowl, whisk in remaining sugar until soft peaks form

* Mix the rest of the ingredients and combine with a fork.

* Heat a non-stick pan medium to low heat.

* Spray oil or butter, drop the batter with a small spoon forming small circles.

* Once bubbles have formed flip the pancakes until both sides are golden brown.

* Serve with whipped cream and strawberries

I’ve added a little food colouring in the cream for a pretty photo, but just about any fruits may be used to top pancakes. For more sweetness, drizzle honey on top.

The thing with pancakes, is you never know how many you can eat! Any leftovers you can freeze. Cool the pancakes before spreading out on a baking tray and freeze for at least 20 minutes. Pack in a resealable bag, date them, pop in the freezer and use within three months. To reheat, microwave for 40-60 seconds and flash pan in a little oil to crisp, or a toaster. See Chandra recipes @leedshomecook