For many Americans, the word “pancake” conjures up an image of fluffy, disc-shaped stacks of delicious carbs, topped with a pat of (plant-based) butter. Some picture them swimming beneath a drizzle of deeply amber maple syrup. Pancakes epitomize comfort food — they’re warm, hearken back to childhood, and taste like a hug.
Of course, pancakes exist beyond the Americanized version of the staple diner dish. While we may not know where the first pancake was “invented” (although some have suggested that it’s likely pancakes were the earliest and most common cereal food consumed in prehistoric societies) and enjoyed, we do know that pancakes exist across all regions and cultures.
From the thin French crêpe to the as-you-like it Japanese okonomiyaki, we’re taking you on a tour of vegan pancakes across the globe — so we hope you’re hungry.
Here’s your traditional American stack. Round, light, fluffy, and filling, American pancakes are often paired with (vegan) butter and maple syrup, but also make great vehicles for an assortment of different goodies. You can stuff almost anything into the batter.
If you’re feeling nutty, go for Apple-Almond Butter Pancakes — a healthy choice. When we’re feeling seasonal, we love the Fluffy Oil-Free Sweet Potato Pancakes pictured above, and there’s no better way to indulge than with these Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancakes, which taste like vegan Reese’s.
Crêpes are delicate French pancakes and are traditionally made using eggs, milk, flour, and butter. Typically, you can enjoy two variations of crêpes; there are sweet crêpes, also called crêpes sucrées, which are made with wheat flour and are sweetened. Then, there are savory galettes, also called crêpes salées, which are unsweetened and made with buckwheat flour.
Celebrate the season with the Pumpkin Crêpes With Cinnamon Coconut Whipped Cream and Candied Pecans pictured above, or try something new with these Raw Banana Crêpes, Almond Butter, and Caramel Paste.
A savory pancake, okonomiyaki is a traditional Japenese street food which’s name translates to “grilled as you like it”, which means exactly what you think it does — you really get to customize your pancake to your preferences. Most traditional preparations of okonomiyaki include eggs, bonito (fish flakes), shredded cabbage, meats, and a variety of toppings, but plant-based versions can be found with some effort, or else just made at home.
If you’ve ever been to an Indian restaurant, you’ve probably seen a dosa on the menu. Made from a fermented and gluten-free mixture of white lentils and rice, dosa is a gluten-free and fermented Indian crêpe — and it’s delicious. Dosa are typically vegan, as they’re made by soaking lentils and rice overnight and then blending the mix into a batter before leaving it to ferment in a warm oven until ready.
We love the Masala Dosa pictured above, which is stuffed with a spicy, savory sweet potato filling. It’s filling, flavorful, and packed full of good carbs. Don’t miss this recipe for Dosa With Curried Cauliflower and Kimchi fuses Indian and Korean cuisine into one awesome dish, and be sure to check out these 6 Ways to Make Vegan Dosas at Home!
Made from the ancient grain teff, injera is a gluten-free sourdough flatbread that is spongy and pliable and used more like a pancake than a loaf of sourdough bread. Used as an edible serving device, diners are encouraged to use injera to sop up Ethiopian stews and sauces.
If you’re interested in making your own injera, check out this recipe for Injera: Ethiopian Sourdough Flatbread With Spiced Stew. Also use it when enjoying these 3 Ethiopian Stews.
Bánh xèo, which translates to “sizzling cake”, is a Vietnamese savory pancake made from a naturally vegan base of rice flour, water, and turmeric powder. Many people also choose to add bean sprouts, diced green onion, and different animal proteins, although the latter is definitely not needed. This dish is also popular in Cambodian cuisine. Check out the recipe for the Bánh xèo pictured above.
We’re only beginning to scratch the surface, of course. There are also Russian blinis, which are savory Russian pancakes that are typically served with some sort of creamy spread (check out this recipe for Savory Blinis With Nut Cheese!), Venezuelan arepas, which are made from ground maize dough (these Grilled Jalapeño Arepas are spicy versions of the pancake) and more.
If you’re interested in finding more international pancake recipes, we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Masala Dosa