Pani pol

Spiced coconut pancakes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    (2 pancakes per person)

Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

WOW is what I think of this dessert. Coconut, palm treacle and spices: these luscious pancakes have all the things Sri Lanka is known for. You can make them beforehand and enjoy them at room temperature, or have them warm with ice cream. They are especially delicious with coconut or vanilla ice cream.

Preparation 20 minutes
Cooking 4 minutes per pancake


Pancake Batter

  • 2 eggs
  • 75 g ( oz/½ cup) plain flour
  • 300 ml (10½ fl oz) milk
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) rice bran oil, plus extra for greasing
  • a pinch of ground turmeric, to colour the mixture

Coconut Filling

  • 350 g (12 oz/1 cup) palm treacle
  • 55 g (2 oz/¼ cup, tightly packed) grated palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
  • 160 g ( oz/2 cups) freshly grated coconut, or thawed frozen coconut


In a bowl or blender, mix all the batter ingredients together until smooth and lump free; the batter should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If there are any lumps, strain the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl.

Place a non-stick frying pan or cured cast-iron pan over low heat. Lightly apply some more rice bran oil onto the pan with a paper towel.

Using a ladle, add a thin layer of the pancake batter to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, trying not to let it colour, then flip it over and cook on the other side for a further 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter, oiling the pan only as needed; the less oil the better.

For the filling, add the treacle, palm sugar, cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod to a small heavy-based saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring now and then, for about 5 minutes, or until the treacle boils and all the sugar has dissolved. Do not cook too long, or the treacle will caramelise and it will set too hard, into toffee. Remove the aromatics, add the vanilla seeds and coconut and stir until the coconut is warm and well coated with the treacle mixture.

To serve, place a tablespoon of filling into a pancake and roll it up, folding in the sides. Enjoy warm or cold.