12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 2: Orange Zest Pancakes

You know that box of pancake mix you reach for at the grocery store? The one you sometimes pick up for a rainy day, much like packaged Betty Crocker brownie mix?

image via | grababuggy.com

image via | grababuggy.com

Don’t do it. Because it’s so easy to make a batch from scratch. If you’ve got flour, some sugar, eggs and a little butter, you can make pancakes at home.


Once you have the basic pancake recipe down, you can make whip up a batch anytime. And top them with whatever you like. You could go Nigella style, and add some bacon and maple syrup, for that irresistible sweet+salty kick.

Or you could take the popular muffin & cookie flavour combination of lemon and poppy seeds and whisk it into your pancake batter à la Melissa Clark. (I love every little flavour twist she has up her apron!)

And of course, you could add ricotta, because, why not?

You could also opt for eggless, gluten-free, dairy-free, (and ultimately taste-free!) buckwheat banana pancakes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good. I made these and they were rather…well, for lack of a more subtle word, bleh. Maybe it was the quality of the soy milk I used? Either way, there was an overpower of soy milkiness and baking soda, and I had to slather my very short stack with peanut butter and cinnamon honey to get through. However, a quick internet search will reveal that many people luuurve GP’s vegan pancakes, so perhaps it’s just me.

Anyway, this is a pancake recipe for those who dare to consume AP flour and melted butter. Think of it as a holiday indulgence, and you won’t feel all that guilty about eating some. Like 1-2-3 cookies and buckwheat muffins, I followed Michael Ruhlman’s ratio for pancakes, from his book Ratio. If you have the ratio stuck to your fridge, you can make however many pancakes you want…whenever you want.


In my case, I took 1/2 cup as the unit. I added 2 parts or 1 cup of liquid (milk+orange juice,)  1 part or 1/2 cup eggs (works out to 2 medium eggs) half a portion of butter (1/4 cup butter,) and 2 parts or 1 cup of flour, along with a teaspoon of baking powder.  My ‘extras’ were castor sugar for sweetness, vanilla, orange zest and a pinch of nutmeg. In the end, I got a pretty, speckled, gorgeous-smelling batter.




ORANGE ZEST PANCAKES (Adapted from Ratio


  • 3/4  cup milk
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract OR seeds scraped from a quarter of a vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder


  • Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder) in a large bowl/jug and set aside.
  • In a another bowl, lightly whisk together the milk, orange juice, eggs, melted and cooled butter, orange zest, vanilla, and nutmeg.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a light hand till no lumps remain. These measurements will give you thick pancakes, but if you like your pancakes thinner, add some more milk.
  • Pour spoonfuls of batter onto a lightly greased griddle or pan, and cook over medium heat till done.

Christmas Recipe: Kerala Chicken Stew

Christmas came and went, and it was so much fun. My best friend came over with her friend, and I decided to make a South Indian dinner. That meant rice and lots of coconut! If you don’t know by now, then I should tell you: food from Kerala will almost always involve coconut. There’s either coconut oil, grated coconut, coconut milk or bits of roasted coconut. Kerala chicken stew uses coconut milk as a base, and I love it because it is uncomplicated and sits well on any palate.

Ideally, I would have liked to serve this with appams or hoppers, but for all my love of Kerala and it’s cuisine, I do not know how to make the batter for appams. I mean, I know how it’s done, but I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. (Note to self- must do so in 2012.) This chicken stew is rather like the fish moilee I made a while ago, the only difference being this does not use tomatoes. You can if you want to, I chose not to.



  • 300 grams chicken, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (I used Dabur, you can use anything you like or even better, zhuzh it up in the blender!)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (1 tablespoon for marination; 2 for frying)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, chopped or cut into matchsticks (I’ll be honest, I did not really measure…it seemed like 2 teaspoons!)
  • 1 medium sized onion; chopped into quarters
  • 1 medium sized potato; chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized sticks of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 pods of cardamom
  • A few whole black peppercorns
  • 1 carton (180 ml) coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 green chilli, slit


  • First, combine the chicken, ginger-garlic paste and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a medium sized bowl and mix well so that the chicken is coated evenly. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least half an hour.
  • Next, get your spices on. Bring out a large wok, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and then add all your whole spice(cinnamon+cloves+cardamom+peppercorns,) and swish around till the flavours are released and you have a nice smell in your kitchen.
  • Next, add the ginger, garlic and onions and sautee till they become soft.
  • Now, add your chicken which has been marinating, and sautee some more. Add some salt to taste, and a slit green chilli.
  • Now, add the chopped potatoes and carrots and add some water (about a quarter of a cup cup should do,) and allow to simmer.
  • Once your chicken has been simmering for a few minutes, add the coconut milk,  stir around, and allow to cook on a low flame till the chicken is tender.

Most other recipes call for fennel and curry leaves, but I didn’t use either because (a) I did not have any fennel and (b) I was also making Thrissur Chicken, which anyway has a lot of curry leaves and I didn’t want everything to taste the same.

The trick is to use all your whole spices in proportion- cinnamon and cloves are pretty strong and can really overpower a dish. Small amounts, gentle flavours. This tastes great with rice, appams or plain bread.

I will post another Christmas recipe tomorrow soon!