Sunday, January 1, 2012

Spiced Banana Griddle Pan Brunch Waffles

I like brunch. Its a fancy way of saying you drank too much last night, slept through breakfast, woke up in need of a big feed and cannot possibly wait until lunchtime. For me this is the perfect brunch recipe. The waffles are filling and are balanced by the refreshing fruit, honey and cool yoghurt. The idea for cooking the waffles in a griddle pan is borrowed from Jamie Oliver. I think it’s brilliant. It’s quick, easy and anything that does away with another piece of kitchen equipment is my kind of cooking.

Inspiration for this dish came to me during a recent work trip to Punjab, Pakistan. I spent most of the time in markets talking to market traders to understand what foods are available and at what price. The first thing that struck me when I walked into the small village stores was the amazing smell of spices. Huge sacks of cinnamon, cloves and other spices take up most of the floor space and make the shops smell so warm and welcoming.

The other thing I noticed was the bananas. Every fruit and veg stand had them hanging down in huge bunches. They only sold one variety but they’re sweet and packed with flavour.

I have taken the classic waffle recipe and added sugar and spice and other things nice. Adding banana into the waffle batter makes them moist and a bit denser. They also bring a bit of sweetness, which I’ve topped up with just a little sugar.

The spices are the real hero of this dish. Ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are found in a lot of South Asian dishes. They are used in savoury and sweet dishes and every good south Asian kitchen will be equipped with its own spice rack and be used just about every meal time. In this dish, the spices give the waffles an almost Christmassy flavour. The bananas blend with the spices perfectly and will fill your kitchen with that same divine smell when the waffles are cooking.

Combining this with tropical fruit makes a lovely contrast. We are so lucky in Thailand to have fruit vendors on every street corner. They push small trolleys of fresh fruit on ice and for 10 baht (about 20p) you can get a little bag of pineapples, guavas, melon, and other fruits you didn’t even know existed.

Time: 35 mins
Rating: Easy like Sunday morning
Serves 2 (hungry people – these are generous portions)

1 egg
150ml milk
115g self-raising flower
1 ¼ tp baking powder
50g unsalted butter plus a little more for cooking
Pinch salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 banana mashed -100g when peeled
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg (preferably grated, if not ground)
1 medium banana (about 100g when peeled)

Selection of fresh tropical fruit: mango, papaya, pineapple, bananas
Coconut yoghurt to serve

  1. First, put the butter in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat. Once it has completely melted, set it aside to cool.
  2. Next, chop up the fruit that you are going to serve on top of your waffles into nice large chunks. If you’re using bananas, leave these til the last minute so they don’t go brown.
  3. Peel and mash the banana using a fork. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps left – it doesn’t need to be a fine puree.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl whisk the egg and milk. Then sift in the flour and baking powder. Add the salt, sugar, and dry spices. Whisk again to combine the ingredients.
  5. Next add the mashed bananas and whisk again until they are evenly mixed into the mixture.
  6. Then stir in the butter (using a spoon rather than whisk) very gently. This is important, if you over-stir the butter it will lose its silkiness and your waffles will come out a bit stiff.
  7. Heat a knob of butter in your griddle pan over a high heat. The butter needs to be hot and bubbling when the mixture first hits it to make sure the waffles are brown and crisp on the outside.  Using a ladle or a large spoon, spoon the batter into the pan. You should be able to get two large waffles out of one pan. Don’t worry about making them perfectly round, they’ll look charming and rustic with uneven edges.
  8. Turn the heat down to a medium level and allow the waffles to cook for about five or six minutes. You should start to smell the spices, butter and banana combining and smell amazing! Check that they’re not burning by lifting up an edge with a spatula and checking the colour. After five minutes or if they look like they’re brown enough, gently flip them over with a spatula. Cook for another 5-6 minutes on the other side. Turn over once more and cook on the other side for one more minute.
  9. Plate up: place on a plate and drizzle generously with honey. I’m not sure what kind of honey I used. It’s a local variety that comes in a big bottle but it’s in Thai so I can’t read it! But any clear runny kind will do. Next carefully place your fruit and serve with a small pot of coconut yoghurt. Spooning the yoghurt into a glass looks nice and lets people add as much as they like.

If you want to switch the tropical fruit for something more local or seasonal, consider using apples, pears, cranberries in Winter, or berries and stone fruit in Summer.

Coconut yoghurt goes well with the tropical fruits and spices. But you could use any you like, or even switch to Greek yoghurt which would go nicely with the honey.

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