With 2017 well underway, Pancake Day seems to have crepe’d up on us. If you’re craving a little dough-based inspiration, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best pancakes from around the world, from the traditional American pancake to the South American arepa.
Hoppers – Sri Lanka
Deemed ‘the love child of a crepe and a crumpet’ by Madhur Jaffrey – the Mary Berry of Indian cuisine – the hopper is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most famous culinary export, traditionally eaten at breakfast. Crispy, golden and lacy at the edges, but light and fluffy in the middle, hoppers are served alongside fragrant Sri Lankan curries and tangy relishes.
Sound like your cup of tea? Keeping it traditional, the kitchen at Cape Weligama serves up hoppers with a fried egg baked into the bottom alongside some of the freshest local and seasonal curries, while Tri has put a modern twist on the dish, filling its hoppers with a soft-boiled quails egg and topped with flavoursome sambols. Looking closer to home? With queues often down the street, the aptly-named Hoppers in Soho serves the best Sri Lankan food in London.
Buttermilk Pancakes – USA
A dish that needs no introduction, American-style pancakes are – for good reason – a staple on any brunch menu, rivalled only by the ubiquitous avocado on toast. Topped with lashings of butter and generous glugs of maple syrup, these are truly fluffy bites of heaven.
Looking for the real deal? Famous for its blueberry pancakes, the Clinton St. Baking Company in New York is celebrating ‘pancake month’ (an idea we can definitely get on board with) by offering a different flavour each day, from apple pie to Japanese pumpkin. Londoners with Big Apple cravings should head to The Blues Kitchen in Camden or Shoreditch for their infamously decadent stacks of buttermilk pancakes, or for those looking to take it one step further, Christopher’s in Covent Garden is offering a bespoke ‘Build Your Own Pancakes’ menu. Toppings include maple-cured bacon, salted caramel ice cream and matcha green tea… flippin’ hell.
Arepas – Colombia & Venezuela
One of the most famous street food dishes in both Colombia and Venezuela, the arepa is a Latin American staple. Prepared from maize flour – making it both wheat and gluten free – arepas differ between regions, from the savoury Arepa Boyacense, made with fresh cheese or Arepa e’Huevo stuffed with a fried egg, to the sweet arepuelas, made with sugar, cinnamon and star anise.
If you find yourself in Colombia’s capital, head to La Plaza de Andres to sample the best arepas Bogota has to offer. And if you don’t want to foodie fun to end there, our friends at Amakuna can organise tailored tours around the country, sampling the very best Colombian cuisine. Back in London, team BIRD can often been found on a Friday afternoon lingering at the arepa stand at the Portobello Road market, digging into a freshly baked arepa bursting with chicken, avocado, plantain and pico de gallo. If you can’t wait until the end of the week, head to East London, where local favourite Arepa and Co serves a wide selection of arepas, with fillings such as shredded beef, plantain and Venezuelan artisan cheese.
Banh Xeo – Cambodia
Traditional Khmer crepes are a southeast Asian favourite, made with rice flour and named after the “sizzling” sound made when the batter hits the hot pan. These crisp-edged delicacies are served stuffed to bursting with fresh vegetables, herbs and minced meat.
Sophat Hing, head chef at Cambodia’s Song Saa Private Island created an army of foodie fans with his speciality Khmer pancake at London’s Carousel last November: a lacy yellow crepe filled with minced chicken, field mushrooms and grated coconut. Sadly for us, Sophat’s now back on home turf, so when cravings call, it’s time to book those tickets to Song Saa…
Can’t wait for your flight? Hit up Camden’s Lemongrass restaurant to get your fix of local Khmer cuisine.
Llapingachos – Ecuador
Made from mashed potatoes and cheese (do we even need to go on?), these traditional potato pancakes, or Llapingachos are a typical Ecuadorean dish, traditionally served with a creamy peanut sauce alongside fried eggs, chorizo and avocado.
Ecuador has a great street market scene, and should you find yourself in Quito, the Mercado Central is unrivalled for sampling local cuisine as well as picking up some traditional souvenirs. Situated right on historic Plaza San Francisco, Casa Gangotena is the perfect base for exploring the markets and hunting out some delicious llapingachos.
Back in London, family-run Ecuadorean restaurant Tostado serves up a traditional llapingacho-chorizo-egg combination using a recipe passed down for generations, adding a modern twist with the addition of braised pork belly, flat iron steak and plantain.