Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of Lent. In New Orleans it’s called Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday; throughout the Christian world celebrations take place to mark the beginning of Lent, the 40-day fast before the Passion of Easter. The parties can be mighty, exotic and wild (as in New Orleans) or the day can simply be marked by the consuming of fatty foods to store up energy before a time of abstinence. That is why, in the English-speaking western world, Shrove Tuesday is often known as Pancake Day. 

But it’s not just Christians who love to eat fried discs of batter. Here are eight recipes from all over the world that celebrate the versatility of different combinations of eggs, flour, milk and butter.

1) Okonomiyaki

Japanese pancake okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki – Japanese pancake, sometimes also known as Japanese pizza

There are two types of popular pancakes in Japan: Dorayaki and Okonomiyaki.

While dorayaki is a sweet pancake sandwich with a layer of red bean paste in between them, okonomiyaki is the ultimate savoury pancake. The term okonomiyaki combines the Japanese phrase okonomi, meaning “what you want”, and yaki, the Japanese term for grilled. 

Always full of cabbage, egg and fatty goodness, okonomiyaki pancakes are traditionally grilled in front of you and typically made to order. Expert okonomiyaki chefs will throw in oysters, pork, cheese – just about anything you ask for. If you want a little more burning excitement with your evening meal, try one of Japan’s grill-it-yourself establishments, where you’ll be presented with a bowl of raw ingredients to mix and then grill on a teppan, a special type of metal griddle that’s fitted to your table.

2) Anjero

Soft and spongy, as all good pancakes should be, Somali kitchens will almost always have an anjero on the go. The sourdough pancake has become a staple of Somalian cuisine, whatever the hour. Like the injero in Ethiopia, the anjero is either served up sweet with butter and sugar for breakfast or savoury, alongside a meat stew, for dinner.

3) Kaiserschmarrn

Kaiserschmarrn - traditional Austrian pancake dessert
Kaiserschmarrn – traditional Austrian pancake dessert

A shredded pancake with regal qualities, the kaiserschmarrn is a cherished national dish in Austria. Sweet and fluffy, it was the meal of choice for Empreror Franz Joseph at the turn of the 20th century. Rumour has it the kaiserschmarrn was the result of a failed attempt at making an omelette, but this supposed egg-based error seems like a success story to us.

4) Dulce de leche pancakes

A sugary treat from Latin America, dulce de leche is a syrup that in English translates as “jam [made] of milk”. Pancakes (spanish: panqueques) served up in many countries south of the equator are often drowning in the stuff, but nowhere as lovingly as Argentina. Their thin, crepe-like pancakes are ladled with sweet dulce de leche cream and either folded or rolled for a picture-perfect dessert. 

5) Dosas

The dosa is the perfect tiffin, or snack, for a busy morning in Bangalore. The key to a good dosa is in its rice and black lentil batter mix; left to ferment slowly overnight, then pan-fried and laced with Indian spices and served with chutney and sambar. The dosa has many regional variations but remains a universal street food favourite in southern India.

6) Crempog

While England will be drowning in a bowl of batter mix, lemon juice and sugar on Shrove Tuesday, much of Wales will be following their age-old recipe of the Welsh crempog (or ‘Ffroes’). Traditionally served stacked and smothered in butter, the crempog pancake can be packed with raisins or currants, dipped in honey or syrup, and gets its unique taste from the warm buttermilk that replaces milk in the traditional pancake mix.

7) Mexican hotcakes

Building on the foundations of the classic American pancake, the Mexican hotcake will take your taste buds to new highs. Made with generous portions of brown sugar and cinnamon, the hotcakes have something of the churro about them and are the perfectly dessert to follow the native taco.

8) Chinese Pancakes

Cong You Bing; Chinese traditional pancake
Cong You Bing; Chinese traditional pancake

There are many types of pancakes in China: the delicate pancake that wraps up crispy shredded duck, the red bean pancake which is a popular street food in Shanghai, and the savoury Cong You Bing, aka spring onion pancakes. Cong You Bing uses the common pancake ingredients: flour, water, salt – but has no eggs; instead you stir in finely chopped spring onion and toasted sesame oil into the batter then pan fry to perfection. It’s crispy, flaky, and simply delicious. 

Enjoy your pancakes.

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