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Flat World Delights - Asia

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Welcome to Flat World Delights of ASIA

February 2024 - Grégoire PYE

Let's go for "Flat World Delights": A culinary exploration of crêpes from ASIA.

Crepe Map of ASIA:  

Learn more on the right

Near East Flag
Middle Eastern Flag
Southern Asia Flag
Eastern Asia Flag
South East Flag
Malay Archipelago Flag
Crepes from all over Asia Map

Notethe various crepes/pancakes documented in the blog (ingredients, preparation, variations,
history, cultural significance...) are indicated on the map by the flag of their country of origin.

History and characteristics of Asian Pancakes 

Learn more about "Flat World Delights - ASIA":

i) Near East (Levantine, Turkey)

-...Katayef is known for its distinctive shape with only one golden side. It is one of the traditional recipes of Levantine cuisine and is said to be of Fatimid origin.

-...Turkish pancakes, better known as Gözleme, are true gems of Turkish cuisine. These delicately crafted, crispy, stuffed pancakes are a symbol of the traditional recipe and the hallmark of Turkish cuisine. Appreciated for their Anatolian flavors, these thin sheets of dough are typically stuffed with mixtures such as cheese and spinach, and are an essential part of street specialties and street food.

ii) Middle East (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan ...)

-...The Middle East has been influenced by the Byzantine, Persian, Arab and Ottoman Empires, all of which have left their mark on Oriental cuisine. Greek and Roman cultures have also influenced Middle Eastern gastronomy.

-...Despite the many differences and peculiarities of the countries of the Middle East, it is possible to highlight some common characteristics of pancakes from this vast region. Some of the most famous Middle Eastern dishes include the traditional Iraqi Kahi made with puff pastry and butter, the Iranian Taftan or Taftoon, a leavened flour-based bread introduced to the cuisines of Kuwait and South Asia, or the Afghan Bolani, a stuffed flatbread usually filled with a mixture of potatoes, coriander, green peppers, etc.

iii) Southern Asia (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka ...)

-...In Pakistan and northern India, wheat is the dominant crop, and the variety of flatbreads is enormous, depending on the flour used and the baking method. They range from oven-baked naans and rotis to fried Pudis and Bhatooras, Podas (tasty chickpea pancakes) and sweet, sticky Malpuas.

-...Masala Dosas are rice, lentil, or wheat pancakes that are a staple of South Indian cuisine, as in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (Mysore Rava [wheat] dosas are famous). They are often stuffed, for example with a mixture of potatoes, onions and spices,

iv) Eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea ...)

-...In China, Jiānbing are pancakes made from wheat flour mixed with water to form a thin batter. The dough is rolled out on a hot plate, then an egg is added, followed by toppings such as pickled vegetables, chives, ham, or tofu.

-...In Japan, savory "Okonomiyaki" pancakes are made with shredded cabbage and pancake batter. The filling can be meat, seafood, vegetables or okonomiyaki sauce. Dorayaki, on the other hand, is a sweet pancake consisting of two small, thick pancakes with a sweet red bean paste filling called anko.

-...In Korea, pancakes called "Jeon" or "Buchimgae" are made with a rice flour batter mixed with vegetables, seafood, or meat.

v) Southeast Asia (Laos, philippines, Vietnam ...)

The Southeast Asian cuisine is a wonderful blend of Chinese and Indian cuisine with local flavors.

-...In Vietnam, the Vietnamese pancake BÁNH XÈO, or "sizzling cake" as it is called in Vietnamese, was named because of or thanks to the sound of rice flour when the pancake is fried in a hot pan. Banh Xeo is crispy and often cooked with rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric, a spice that gives it its bright golden color.

-...In Laos, the Laotian specialty (found only in the big cities) is bread (pronounced Khao Jee or baguette, which comes from the French influence...). The Khao Jee is cut in half and filled with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, carrots, onions and optional cheese, moo yor (pork)...

-...In the Philippines, Bibingka is a type of rice cake traditionally baked in clay pots lined with leaves. Bibingka is also found in East Timor and in Christian communities in eastern Indonesia.

vi) Malay Archipelago (Malaysia, Singaporean, Indonesia ...)

The Malay Archipelago offers an incredible diversity of cultures and ethnic groups. This richness is reflected in the cuisine. Because the islands are so far apart, culinary techniques have long been influenced by countries such as India, the Middle East, China and, Europe.

However, they are dishes common to the whole country and similarities between dishes throughout the archipelago, such as the use of spices, coconut milk and rice to make pancakes:

- The Apam balik pancakes are thick, fluffy pancakes popular in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. They are made with coconut milk and eaten warm, topped with crushed peanuts and sweet corn.

- The Murtabak pancakes originated in India and can be traced back to the Sultanate of Delhi (1206-1526). In Malaysia, Murtabak is nicknamed "Mamak" by the Malays. In Indonesia, especially in Jakarta, they're called "Martabak". It comes in two varieties: savory and sweet.

- The Lempeng Pisang pancake, which translates as "Banana pancake," is a journey through culinary history, a fragrant emblem of cultural diversity. These rice flour and banana pancakes have been enjoyed throughout the region for centuries, adapting to local ingredients and tastes. Coconut milk, a staple of Malay cuisine, adds richness and creaminess to the batter.

Final Comments

Whether fried for breakfast, a snack or dinner, crêpes are endlessly versatile and reinvented throughout Asia. From the Middle East to the Malay Archipelago, crepes and flatbreads are available year-round. Their textures and flavors vary from country to country and region to region., with textures and flavors that vary from country to country and region to region.

Whether they're thin or thick, sometimes with holes, light or airy, sweet or savory, they can be reinvented ad infinitum while remaining delicious and appetizing.
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