Long, long before Betty Crocker’s red boxes made their way to India, my nine-yard-saree-clad great grandmother was busy experimenting in her kitchen with a pancake recipe. Her father-in-law, my  great great grandfather, a doctor of repute in Hubli, had decided to skip dinner and retire after a high tea.  Mothi Aai (my great grandmother) was faced with the challenge of making this meal appetizing and unusual enough for him to enjoy it. She had never been abroad until then, and I don’t know if she’d read any fancy cookbooks to have heard about pancakes. But this is what she came up with.

Isn’t it gorgeous? Our entire family has eaten this plateful of spongy-crispy goodness for breakfast for an after-school snack—at least three generation of us. And now, Avanee has developed a taste for it as well. It’s difficult not to like it—it is spongy in texture, with a thin rind of crispness at the edge. It has a natural caramelized flavor and no artificial flavoring. AND. It is eaten with good old home-made, white butter, freshly churned that morning, and maybe a spoonful of chili pickle on the side.  What else does one need?

It is also the easiest breakfast pancake ever because it takes no time at all to put together. What’s better is, it’s made from wholewheat flour and semolina—so much healthier than the ones made from all-purpose flour. And, for people who don’t eat eggs, this one’s a winner because it contains no eggs at all. Vegans can easily supplement the buttermilk with soy milk that has a little lemon juice or vinegar added to it. The sugar may be a bit much for your liking, but because it’s not eaten with any jams, syrups or fruits, it sort of balances out. Experiment with the sugar if you feel like it, though.

Here’s the recipe—just in case you want to make it for a happy family breakfast.


  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups (more or less according to the thickness) buttermilk
  • Melted butter/ghee for greasing


  1. Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Slowly add the buttermilk and whisk together until you have a cake-batter consistency batter. You should be able to ladle it easily.
  3. Put on a non-stick or well-seasoned, heavy-bottomed griddle or skillet on slow to medium heat. Grease lightly for the first pancake.
  4. Ladle a small cupful of batter on the heated skillet. Dot drops of melted fat along the edges in anticipation of that crunchy, chewy rind. Cover and cook for about a minute or until the batter appears set and there are bubbles on the surface.
  5. Flip over and cook for half a minute.
  6. Serve hot with fresh, unsalted butter and pickle.