Friday, March 23, 2012

Mamma Jamma Pancakes



My sister M is the only one in my family that can make traditional Samoan pancakes like my mother. She's mastered the art of those simple, tasty treats, an art which involves measuring by eye, mixing to perfection and frying to a crisp crunchy finish. And it is an art, because not everyone can make them. 


Especially moi.


Unfortunately M has also inherited my mother's Samoan abilities at explaining a recipe, because when I asked her how to make them she said over the phone, "It's easy, it's just flour, sugar, water..."
"How about eggs?" I asked.
"If we have them, I put them in," she replied.
"Do you use milk?" I asked.
"Sometimes," she said.
"Anything else?" I pressed.
"No, that's it I think," she answered.
So I faithfully tried a dozen different batters of all different proportions of flour, sugar and water and none came out like my childhood pancake memories. 


Tired and dejected, I fried the last of my unsuccessful batter into a pancake in the shape of M's head, and smooshed it with my spatula. 


That's what happens when there's only one person in your family that can make something and you leave it to them to always make it. 


It's not that I never tried to make them, because I have, but my efforts have always been hit and miss. 


So this recipe has be filed under 'inspired'. It's my own take on traditional Samoan pancakes because I honestly could not get the flour/sugar/water thing to work. And because according to my sister M, the expert, there is no baking powder in traditional Samoan pancakes. In fact, when I told her about the baking powder, she wrote: 'Are you making pagi keke mafolafola (flat pancakes) or pagi keke mamma jamma?'.


Looks like it is the mamma jamma kind. 


M, sorry about that pancake I made in the shape of your head. But you can't imagine how frustrating it is to not be able to make something that only requires three ingredients. If it's any consolation, the pancake had a nice shape, a golden brown complexion and was tough - kinda like you, Mamma Jamma.




Mamma Jamma Pancakes
(makes 12)
2 cups (250 g) flour
4 teaspoons (15 g) baking powder
3 Tablespoons (40 g) sugar
1⅓ cup (160 ml) water
oil for frying


Measure everything into a bowl and stir quickly but lightly to combine all the ingredients. Do not overmix, or try to get the batter smooth. The batter will be slightly lumpy but you shouldn't see any big lumps of flour.


Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frypan. The oil should be generous enough to coat the bottom of the pan and then some. When you see the oil start to shimmer when you swirl it around the pan then it's hot enough for frying the pancakes. If the oil is smoking, it's too hot.


Scoop heaped tablespoonfuls of batter into the frypan. The batter should sizzle when it hits the oil. Fry each side until golden. 









The first side will be done when bubbles poke through the batter. The second side will take less time than the first. 


Add oil each time you start a new batch of pancakes.




Serve with butter and jam, or a classic Samoan mixture of the two. We used to make this when we had fa'alavelave, and had to cater for scores of people. The all-in-one spread made it easier to churn out plates of crackers, pancakes or thickly sliced white bread.





18 comments:

  1. She's mastered the art of those simple, tasty treats, an art which involves measuring by eye? Wow! That's real talent. I'm so hungry now with all those yummyyy samoan foods:)...especially the pagi popo :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some people can play music by ear, some need the notes. Unfortunately, I'm one of the latter. Same with the cooking. Enjoy the blog!

      Delete
  2. haha - thats hilarious! I tried doing these in the weekend as well and ended up with the palagi version......Mother's recipes can't be replicated, malo lava!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, I have yet to crack the code on this recipe but will be seeing my sister M in June so will try to extract the secret of the pancake then.

      Delete
  3. Do you have a recipe for Skogi or Samoan scones?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could be so kind as to post the recipe for Skogi....thank you so much

      Delete
  4. Omg that's funny... I try to do the same thing with my moms papa. I have yet to try it because she gave the recipe to my aunt and they turned out rock hard... Hehehe so maybe I need to watch her a couple more times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rissa, feel free to try my fa'apapa recipe (It's on the recipes page of this website)...I have recipes for the old-fashioned hard as rock kind, as well as an updated lighter one. Both are delicious. Good luck!

      Delete
  5. Hafa Adai (means Hello from the Island of Saipan)

    I was hesitating at first to make this just because I have to use oil to fry the pancake since I normally use butter or pam, but I always have this saying "I'll never know if I don't try" so I went ahead and made it with the help of my son. Its a simple recipe, but yet delicious! Its definitely a keeper! We now make our pancake your way, and tossed the instant pancake mix out the pantry ;) Thank you again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hafa Adai Rose, thanks for trying the recipe! I like your saying. It makes life more interesting, right? I've never been to your islands, but I imagine they're as beautiful as Samoa. Happy cooking!

      Delete
  6. thanks a lot love the recipe!!! making this for a school assignment on samoa. hope i get extra credit (other people are bringing in a coconut)-Jenna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jenna, hope the pancakes worked out for you. Thank you for your comment.

      Delete
  7. Well I will try this out,I already make the round one n it was really yami,my husband like it,so I will try this tomoro moni,thanks for sharing all these recipe apriciated that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lulia, happy you like the recipes.

      Delete
  8. Bula from Fiji!!!

    I love this mix, it totally works for me and when I added a few ripe bananas, Voila! Heavenly tea time for me and my Mom!
    I can't wait to get to Samoa (I'm going over for work and I have heard tummy warming tales of Samoa's amazing dishes, especially the Keke Pua'a!!)...Island cooking is an art!!
    Thank you so much!
    Vinaka!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment KG, and for the banana tip. You're going to love Samoa, especially the food. Be sure to buy some panikeke lapotopoto (round pancakes) to eat at the market, and some masi samoa or keke saiga to take home. Have a great time!

      Delete