The traditional pancakes made by the East Indian community of Mumbai are different from what Westerners would conceive as pancakes. But these tasty coconut-filled sweet pancakes called Elijao are a delight to eat!
Pancake Tuesday is just around the corner, and my friends have already called dibs on my mom’s pancake recipe. It’s the recipe she got from granny but tweaked a bit, and it’s perfect!
We East Indians celebrate Intruz, the feast from Fat Sunday to Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras with pancakes. It’s a lot like celebrating the carnival that other cultures celebrate, but we do it simply with food, or primarily with pancakes called Elijao.
The East Indian are a bit different from chocolate pancakes which are yummy too. But this goes back to age-old traditions when Christians were banned from eating any animal products during Lent and not just meat, to confess and be absolved of their sins. They would use up their supplies of eggs, butter(fat) as well as milk which are perfect for sweet pancakes, and indulge in them one last day before Ash Wednesday, which is also why it’s called Fat Tuesday.
What’s different about East Indian pancakes?
These traditional East Indian pancakes are absolutely yummy and lush light crepe-styled pancakes filled with a dense rich coconut stuffing. But you already know they taste awesome, else you wouldn’t be searching for the East Indian pancake recipe with filling, right? (If you don’t know what East Indians are, click this link for more information.)
So lets get straight to it. Here’s how to make delicious East Indian thin Pancakes right in your home.
By the way, if you’re in a hurry, my friend Evelyne makes some awesome Finnish pancakes with blueberries that look just like a tantalising pizza. Something that must be tried! Or if you’d rather eat the luscious coconut filling without the pancakes, try my yummy rose petal and coconut barfi.
Recipe for Traditional East Indian Pancakes with coconut filling
You’ll need to grate one fresh coconut. If you can’t find fresh coconuts, you can use about 200 grams of desiccated coconut powder, but fresh usually tastes better. Along with this you need about 100 grams of almonds, cashewnuts and kismis aka raisins.
Chop the raisins in half and the cashewnuts and almonds to similar-sized pieces.
Add about 200 gms ground sugar aka powdered sugar, half a cup of water, 1 wine glass of rose water and the coconut to a vessel and mix well on a low flame.
After a few minutes add in the grated nuts and raisins, along with a few drops of vanilla essence and continue to stir till quite dry. Take off the flame and set aside. (One of my aunts also adds condensed milk to this mixture, making the sweet East Indian pancakes super-rich, and it tastes heavenly, but that’s a bit too sweet for us.)
In a mixing bowl, add 300 grams maida aka fine wheat flour, 3 small eggs, 200 ml milk, 200 ml water, quarter teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons sugar and beat all the ingredients together till light and fluffy.
Once the batter is ready, add in a few drops of vanilla and beat for a minute.
Separate the batter into 4 or 5 smaller vessels and add different colors. We used to use lighter colours for our cakes and desserts, just white and pink like granny loved them; but now that granny’s enjoying her pancakes in heaven we have started going brighter and bolder with colours.
Chop an onion into half, stick a fork in it, and use it as an oil rub for a small frying pan. (Around 12 inches wide.) Add a spoonful of batter to the frying pan and fry till it looks cooked. They look a bit like the crepes in France.
Smear oil onto a few thalis (Indian steel plates) or a board with the onion rub and keep ready. Flip the nice thin pancake over onto the thali or flat board.
Spoon a bit of the coconut filling onto one end of the thin pancake and fold it in to form a roll.
And finally, we have our unusual pancakes ready to be served. Since we make dozens of pancakes at a time, we usually work in twos to make these pancakes, one person frying and one person rolling.
Lush, aren’t they? Have you tried this recipe? Comment and let me know what you liked and what you did differently.
Another option is to make the Pancake batter plain and add Colourful fillings
Make the batter as given above, but do not add any colour to it. Fry the pancakes the same way in a pan and place on the thalis.
The coconut filling is also be made the same way as given above, but now you make 2 or 3 portions and add food colour to it.
Fill the pancakes with the colorful coconut filling and roll them up. See how yummy they look when you slice them in half. Tempting aren’t they?
Frequently Asked Questions About Pancakes
Why Are Pancakes Eaten on Pancake Tuesday?
In the Catholic-Christian communities, the period from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday is a time of fasting and repentance. During this time, meats and sweet dishes are refrained from. So to finish off the leftover lard, butter, oil, or sugary ingredients in homes before Ash Wednesday, the East Indian Catholic make pancakes. These elejao pancakes were also eaten as a symbol of one last feat before a time of fasting.
Do I Have To Add Color To The Pancakes?
No, you don’t have to add any color to the pancakes or to the filling. It tastes just as good when left plain.
Can I Make The Pancake Filling Richer?
Yes, to make the pancake filling richer, add about 100 ml of condensed milk or 100 ml of milk powder to the filling while it’s cooking down.
When Is Pancake Tuesday?
If you want our traditional East Indian recipes on hand, the Abby's Plate Cookbook Series books are available online or in-store in most countries.
Christmas with the Rebellos:
East Indian Meals & Desserts from Abby's Plate
See the full list of books here!
Pancake Tuesday is always celebrated a day before Ash Wednesday. As such, its date depends on when Easter is celebrated in that year, coming anytime from Feb to March. To calculate the date for pancake Tuesday, just count 47 days before Easter Sunday.
The next few Pancake Tuesdays or Shrove Tuesdays or Mardi Gras are on:
March 1, 2022
February 21, 2023
February 13, 2024
March 4, 2025
February 17, 2026
February 9, 2027
What Are The Other Names For Pancake Tueday?
Pancake Tuesdays is also called Shrove Tuesdays or Mardi Gras and is celebrated worldwide.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- Sweet and Tangy Mango Chutney
- Curry with goat brains
- Icing for cakes
- Vanilla Cream Dessert
- Naralchi Wadi, a Konkan Coconut Dessert
Traditional East Indian Pancakes with Coconut Filling – Elijao
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- 1 Coconut (Grated) Equivalent to 200 gms desiccated coconut
- 200 g Sugar
- 100 g Almonds
- 100 g Cashewnuts
- 100 g Raisins Kismis
- .5 cup Water
- 30 ml Rose Water
- 3 drops Vanilla Essence
- 300 g All Purpose Flour (Maida / Plain Flour / Refined Flour) Maida
- 200 ml Milk
- 200 ml Water Add more if required
- .25 teaspoon Salt
- 3 tbsp Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- 5 drops Vanilla Essence
- 10 drops Food Colour Different colours
For the Coconut Filling
- Grate one fresh coconut. If fresh coconuts are not available, use 200 grams of desiccated coconut powder.
- Chop the raisins in half and the cashewnuts and almonds to similar sized pieces and set aside.
- Add the powdered sugar, half cup owater, rose water and the coconut to a vessel and mix well on a low flame.
- After a few minutes add in the grated nuts and raisins, along with a few drops of vanilla essence and continue to stir till quite dry. Take off the flame and set aside.
Making the Pancake
- In a mixing bowl, beat the flour, eggs, milk, water, sugar and salt till light and fluffy.
- Add in a few drops of vanilla essence or extract and beat for a minute.
- Separate the batter into 4 or 5 smaller vessels and add different colors as desired.
- Chop an onion into half, and use it as an oil rub for a small frying pan. (Around 12 inches wide.)
- Add a spoonful of batter to the frying pan and fry till it looks cooked.
- Flip it over onto a greased board.
- Spoon the coconut filling on one side of the pancake before rolling it. And that’s it! Onto the next one.
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- The cook time changes with the amount of batter you prepare.
- Since we make dozens at a time, we usually work in twos to make these pancakes, one person frying and one person rolling.
Nutrition (Per Serving)
Disclaimer: Nutrition Information per serving is estimated by a third party software based on the ingredients used, and is for informational purposes only. It will vary from product to product, based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients. Please consult the package labels of the ingredients you use, or chat with your dietician for specific details.