Pancakes on Parade

I was not aware that there are so many posts about pancakes until I decided to post about pancakes …………..yes, pancakes, pancakes everywhere …. different kinds of pancakes everywhere!

However, the fact that there are so many posts about pancakes did not stop me from posting about pancakes….because there is no shortage of pancake lovers and same is with different pancake recipes. Just as there are different versions today, the history of pancakes indicate that it emerged in different forms in different countries.

In my country, we have many different types of pancakes which can be sweet or savory and the varieties seem endless. Not only a cherished breakfast staple, Indonesian-style-pancakes are one of the meals to beat when we want to satisfy our carb cravings and nutritional needs in the same bite.

Let’s enjoy different types and recipes of Indonesian style pancakes:

The legendary Indonesian-style Martabak

Martabak or Mutabbaq (Arabic) is a stuffed pancake which is commonly found in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Brunei. Depending on the location, the name and ingredients can significantly vary. The name mutabbaq in Arabic means “folded”.

We know two types of martabak: sweet and savory

Martabak Manis (Sweet Thick Pancakes)

Martabak manis or sweet martabak is nothing more than a thick pancake which is popular in my country. Sometimes referred to as “martabak bangka”, where Bangka is an island in Sumatera. In Jakarta and West Java, these sweet, thick pancakes are also known as “terang bulan” (literally means moon-light).

Usually made by street vendors in the evening, martabak manis is pan-cooked, using a specially shaped pan, usually with a diameter of about 25 cm and 3 cm thickness. After cooking, the pancake is topped with a lot of butter or margarine and a variety of toppings according to the customer’s taste. The two major flavors are chocolate and cheese.

The following picture shows the step by step how martabak manis is made:

picture from Media-Indonesia


  • 500 gram wheat flour
  • 650 ml coconut milk
  • 2 table spoon yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 300 gram sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavour sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Butter

For the sprinkles:

  • 50 gram peanut, chopped
  • 50 gram chocolate sprinkles
  • 50 gram sugar
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk


  • Cook coconut milk and salt until boiled. Set aside.
  • When the coconut milk get colder, just warm, add the yeast into it, wait about 15 minutes until the yeast smelt and foamy, set aside.
  • Take a deep big bowl, put the wheat flour in and make a hole in the middle of it.
  • Add the eggs, and mix it together, add the mixture from coconut milk and yeast little by little while you still mix it until the mixture get smooth.
  • Add sugar, baking powder and vanilla sugar.
  • Heat a 24 cm skillet with a little bit butter in it. When the skillet hot enough add 1/5 of the mixture on low heat. Cover the skillet until very little liquid remains and the mixture get holes scattered.
  • Open it and sprinkle the peanuts, chocolate sprinkles, and thick sweet milk.
  • Lift the edges of the mixture with rubber spatula and fold the pancake .
  • Take off from the fire and put it on the dish fat it with some butter. Cut it into 5 pieces.

Martabak Telur (Egg Martabak)

Martabak telur or literally means egg martabak, also called “martabak asin” or salty/savory martabak, is a crepe-like dish with egg filling. The filling commonly includes duck eggs – up to six eggs for a large one – onion, green onions, cooked ground beef and seasonings.

The martabak’s “skin” is made by spinning the pastry until very thin, like filo pastry. Then it is shallow-fried in a custom made flattened heavy wok. While the skin or pastry is laid flat on the wok, the egg mixture is then poured in.

Then the pastry is folded quickly while being fried, making a rectangular wrap. This requires a mastery in cooking technique. When it is done, the martabak is cut into smaller squares for serving. It is often enjoyed together with pickled diced cucumber, and a dark brown sauce made of vinegar and palm sugar.

This is the step by step of home-made martabak telur by Arfi:

Picture from homemades by arfi

The ingredients to make the paste :

  • 5 Red chilies
  • 10 shallots
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5 candle nuts
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbs coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp anise
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt

Make a smooth paste of this above ingredients. You can use food processor if you like it. It’s fast and easy. Or you can use mortar and pestle in traditional way. Set the paste aside.

The ingredients for the martabak :

  • 1 kg leeks (you can also use spring onions, but leeks is much cheaper and less work than spring onions), chopped
  • 12 medium eggs
  • 1 kg grounded meat (use low fat meat, don’t use grounded pork, it’s too fat)
  • 1 pack lumpia or spring roll sheets
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions :

  • Set a wok on the medium fire without oil, add the grounded meat. Stir it occasionally until the sauce from the meat almost gone
  • Add the paste that you’re already made. Mix it with the meat until well. Remove from the fire.
  • Add into the big bowl: the chopped leeks, the eggs and the grounded meat. Mix it together until well. Add some salt if needed.
  • Spread out the lumpia or spring roll sheets and put some of the mix in the middle of it, Fold one side and follow the left and the right side. And at the edge of the sheets make it tight with some eggs mix. It has to be flat, not as a lumpia.
  • Baked in the flat pan with a little bit oil, on low fire. Be careful, the fire not too high, the martabak would be baked too soon but the inside it’s not really done.

Serabi (Coconut Pancake)

Picture from cucumberpandan.blogspot

Serabi is actually very similar with pancake in the making process. The different is that serabi use coconut milk instead of dairy milk, this makes serabi taste so different with western pancake.

When Anthony Bourdain  (No Reservation) visited Garut in West Java (Indonesia) back in 2007, he  loved Serabi so much.

The Serabi was delivered to him every morning by a man paddling a small wooden boat yelling, “Serabi, Serabi!” Bourdain refered to it as pancake, “I love the pancake man!” he proclaimed when the Serabi man was approaching.

In the original recipe, Serabi  is cooked on a small clay wok using charcoal heat.

In the modern style of serabi some recipes replace the rice flour with regular flour and cook it on a coated flat frying pan. Or we can use the mixture of rice flour & regular flour, to get softer texture, but still keeping its traditional sense.

This is the recipe of Serabi (pancakes with coconut sauce), an Indonesian traditional delicacy (Source: Kue-Kue Indonesia by Yasa Boga)


  • 250 gram rice flour
  • 150 gram grated coconut from half of rather young coconut
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 600 ml light coconut milk
  • 1-2 candle nuts, finely ground until it extracts its natural oil, to grease the wok

Ingredients for Coconut Milk Sauce:

  • 500 ml coconut milk from 1 coconut
  • 200 gr coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 sheets pandan leaves, tear, tie up in one knot


  • Mix the  rice flour, grated coconut and salt with your bare hand, while pouring the coconut milk a little at a time, until all blended well.
  • Beat the batter with your palm for about 10 to 15 minutes until the batter feels light and soft.
  • Preheat the clay wok until very hot. Wrap the grounded candle nuts with a sheet of thin cloth, like muslin, and use it to grease the wok.
  • Spoon 3-4 Tbsp of batter into the wok.
  • Cook uncovered until it bubbles up and holes are formed on the surface. Cover the wok, continue cooking until done.
  • Take out the cooked Serabi from wok.
  • Serve with coconut milk sauce.

Coconut milk sauce (Kinca)

  • Boil together coconut milk, coconut sugar, salt and pandan leaves while stirring it continuously to prevent separation. When it reaches boiling point, turn off the heat and let it cool.

And the results will look like this:

Green Coconut Pancake Roll  (Dadar Gulung)

Dadar Gulung is one of popular snacks in Indonesia, especially in Java.

Dadar literally in Indonesian means ‘pancake’ while gulung means ‘to roll’. Inside has sweet grated coconut as a filling, and usually the pancake has green-coloured which comes from Pandan leaves.  Pandan is an herbaceous tropical plant with long green leaves which can be found throughout Indonesia.

This is the recipe of dadar Gulung (Source:


The Filling:

  • 250 g grated coconut
  • 150 g palm or 100 g caster sugar
  • 1-3 inch cinnamon stick
  • 100 ml water
  • salt to taste

The Pancake:

  • 250 g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon juice from Pandan leaves or few drops of pasta pandan if you have it (this one for colouring)
  • salt to taste


  • Mix the grated coconut, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Fry the mixture in a dry pan over medium/low heat, add the water. Constantly stirred for approximately 5 minutes or until the mixture is dry. But don’t get burn! Set aside and remove the cinnamon stick.
  • Blend the pandan leaves with 150 ml water, squeeze the pulp then sieve the water. If you use pandan paste or food colouring, skip this step.
  • To make pancake: combine the flour, egg, pandan paste, coconut milk, salt with the rest of water.
  • Whisk them well into a smooth batter, just like you make pancake mixture.
  • When it’s ready, prepare non-stick frying pan (use 8-inch frying pan if you have) and pour 3 tablespoon of the batter into the pan. Make sure the pan is equally covered with the batter so it becomes a thin layer pancake.
  • Fry for one minute, turn the pancake over and fry for another minute.
  • Place 2 teaspoons of coconut filling on the near edge of the pancake. Fold over once then tuck in the left and right sides and fold over once more then roll.

Kue Apam (Sourdough Rice Pancake)

Kue apam are bowl-shaped thin pancakes made from fermented rice batter .


  • 3 Cup of uncooked rice
  • 1 Cup grated coconut
  • 1 Cup coconut water
  • 1 / 2 Cup cooked rice
  • 10 g yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar  (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

How to make it

  • Soak the rice in water 4-5 hours.
  • Grind it along with grated coconut and cooked rice to a fine thick paste. Add 1 cup coconut-water ( as needed ) to grind smoothly.
  • Add the yeast and the sugar .
  • Allow to ferment overnight at room temperature
  • Next day , heat a small non-stick wok with a small curved bottom .
  • Add a bit of coconut milk , baking powder and mix the batter.
  • Pour approximately half a spoon of batter and quickly but gently swirl the pan around such that only a thin layer of the batter covers the sides and a thick layer collects at the bottom.
  • Cover with a lid and cook each apam on medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes till the edges have become golden crisp .
  • The center should be fluffy .
  • A well-fermented batter will form small holes all over the apam while cooking.
  • Repeat for each apam

Kue Ape (The ‘What’ cake)

‘Kue Ape’ is another kind of Indonesian pancake is. Literally translated as ‘The What Cake’.

There was a story that the original name for Kue Ape is actually ‘Breast Cake’ . When first introduced, people quickly shouted ‘What!?’ at the cook. Hence the ‘What Cake’ 🙂

This is the making process the ‘What Cake’ or Kue Ape by the hawker:

picture from selbyfood

Kue Ape has crispy edges — from rice flour — and an increasingly softer texture towards the middle — from wheat flour, sometimes combined with tapioca or sago flour.

During the cooking process, the pancakes give off an ethereal aroma of coconut milk with a lightness blessed by a combination of yeast and/or baking powder, sugar, and a kiss of pandan.



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