Sri Lankan Coconut Pancakes


It’s interesting to note that Sri Lankan breakfast is less specialized than the English or American version. Pastries and pancakes are to be found (almost always flavored or sweetened with coconut or jaggery, a sort of coconut sugar) but for most Sri Lankans, breakfast features rice and curry, not so different from the food for the rest of the day. There are other, more recognizable facets of the Sri Lankan breakfast though as well. Eggs are hard boiled and placed in a curry sauce, potatoes are chopped and served in a comparatively mild coconut based curry, almost a soup. Then there are things even more exotic than the curries, such as hoppers – interesting noodles made from fermented rice flour.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of great things to eat for breakfast in this island nation, but the one I’d like to focus on is the coconut pancake. Sri Lankan style pancakes are often formed into a bowl, used to scoop up the curries or pickles that accompany the meal. This version produces a more recognizable European or American style pancake, but with some fascinating Sri Lankan flare. To make them you’ll need:

Ingredients for Sri Lankan Coconut Pancakes

1/2 cup shredded coconut with some extra aside for garnish

  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar or, if available, jaggery, a kind of coconut based sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp oat or whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup milk or coconut milk
  • Agave syrup to to top
  • Pinch of ground cardamom

How to make Sri Lankan Coconut Pancakes

To start, you’ll want to toast your coconut. If possible, do this in the same pan you’ll be cooking the pancakes in to season it. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay out the coconut flakes in your pan in a single layer, be sure to toast extra for garnishing your dish. Toast the coconut for 3-5 minutes until it just starts to turn golden.

In a bowl, combine your milk, egg, sugar and cardamom and whisk together. Slowly sift in the flours, mixing as you go to prevent lumps, then add the, salt and baking powder. Finally, add most of the coconut flakes. As with any batter, if it looks a bit dry, add more milk, and if it’s too wet add a little more flour.

Heat a skillet and add the coconut oil. Pour in two or three discs of the batter and cook on medium heat until they begin to bubble in the middle, at which point give them a flip. Cook for about 2 minutes on the other side and then serve garnished with the agave syrup and the reserved toasted coconut flakes. If you want something a bit more Indian for a topping, try a sweet mango chutney!