Friday, 15 January 2010

Nigella's Arabian Pancakes With Orange-Flower Syrup

Winter is fine, winter is good.. as long as you never actually leave the house.
And don't get me started on summer...
I like the moderate weather of spring and fall, which are all too short here in Ontario. And as much as I am an armchair traveler.. that is all I am. Shlepped all over the world as a youngster, I prefer to do my touring in the kitchen. Comfy and tasty, that's what I like.
So when I gaze lovingly at pictures of far away places and say that I want to be there.. I probably don't. I love my little nest and shudder to leave it. In the kitchen though, that's where the adventure begins. That is where I can travel to anywhere I want and not have to change out of my comfy blue slippers or leave my furry companions behind.
This week I traveled to the Middle East for I Heart Cooking Clubs Exotic Destinations. Do I want to actually pop over for a visit? Not really. But I love to go there in the kitchen.

These Arabian Pancakes With Orange-Flower Syrup are flowery and heady and sweet, and a delightful change from the usual fare. If you have never had orange flower water, or orange blossom water, it is found in most Persian markets and is quite strong - more perfumey and flowery than orangey.
I made the pancakes with half whole wheat flour and added a little food colouring to the syrup to carry the orange theme. Even though we took the shots quickly, much of it was absorbed by the pancakes by the time they had their photos taken. I ate this particular plate of them smothered with plain yogurt, which I find neutralizes the sweetness of the syrup nicely and balanced the strong flavour of the flower water.

(bil-hanā' wa ash-shifā') بالهناء والشفاء / بالهنا والشفا
May you have your meal with gladness and health

Arabian Pancakes With Orange-Flower Syrup
Nigella Lawson, Forever Summer


225g caster sugar
150ml water
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon orange-flower water

150g plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 and a quarter teaspoons baking powder
quarter teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch ground cardamom
3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt or labneh
approx. 125ml semi-skimmed milk
1 large egg
50ml almond oil (or 50g butter, melted and cooled)

1–2 handfuls shelled pistachio nuts, chopped
Serving Size : Makes approximately 20


1. To make the syrup, bring the sugar and water gradually to the boil in a saucepan, swilling the pan to help the sugar dissolve, but on no account stirring it. Once it’s boiling, pour in the lemon juice and then turn down the heat a little and simmer the syrup for about 10-15 minutes until it coats the back of a spoon. Add the orange-flower water and simmer for another 5 minutes, then cool the syrup and chill in the fridge. (I had made mine fairly thick and did not chill it)
2. To make the pancakes, measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl then spoon the yoghurt into a measuring jug and, stirring with a fork, pour in the milk until you hit the 250ml mark. If you need to, add a little more than the 125ml specified to do so.
3. Whisk in the egg and then the almond oil, then stir this jugful of wet ingredients into the bowlful of dry ones. Almost immediately the mixture will stiffen into a thick, fluffy batter.
4. Heat a dry griddle and when it is hot add about 2 tablespoons’ worth of batter for each pancake. The mixture is quite thick, so you will need to encourage the pancakes into a round shape with the back of the spoon before the batter sets (they will be roughly 7cm in diameter). When the pancakes begin to bubble a little on top, flip them over and cook the other side to a golden brown.
5. Keep the pancakes warm under foil as you finish cooking the rest of the batter; you shouldn’t need to sit them in the oven unless you’re cooking these before dinner.
6. When you are ready to eat them, and boy will you be ready, drizzle with cold syrup and sprinkle over a handful or so of ridiculously green, splintered and chopped pistachios.