Malawah - Somali Sweet Pancake

Stack of Pancakes. David Marsden
  • 35 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 10-12 pancakes (10-12 servings)
Ratings (12)

When I asked what Somali food I should try first, Zamu on Instagram recommended malawah (Somali sweet pancake) and bariis (Somali style rice). 

Instagram has become the next best thing when it comes to finding photos of African cuisine. As long as you know the name of a dish, hashtag it and along comes a whirl of breakfast, lunch and dinner photos taken by food lovers galore. When I searched for malawah, it returned a number of results of flat breads, crepes and pancakes of all shapes and sizes. What also emerged is that malawah is more commonly known as malawax. Malawah or malawax, as it is known in Somali, is made in a variety of ways and can be served as a sweet or savory dish, although most would serve malawah with butter and honey or sugar or even as a Crepe Suzettewithout the alcohol (malawax xaawo). While some use just 2 ingredients of flour and water, others enrich theirs with the addition of milk, sugar and spices. 

When it comes to cooking malawah, there are a couple of methods. In one method, the batter is poured and distributed within the pan by tilting the pan in a circular motion, as you would do when making ordinary pancakes. This is allowed to fry on a medium heat for 2 minutes. The pancake will not require flipping to the other side but will have one golden brown side while the other remains white and spongy. In the second method, the batter is poured in and then flipped over to brown on the other side. Some people will pour the batter in a circular spiral which will be visibly evident when cooked. Others pour all the batter in the center of the pan and create the spiral by using a spoon.

What You'll Need

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (or butter for frying)
  • Garnish: set aside some honey, butter, and sugar to serve

How to Make It

 1. Beat or whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Alternatively mix them together with a hand held blender.

2. Heat up a frying pan and drop a little bit of butter to fry the malawa. You could also substitute cooking oil instead of butter. Ladle some batter into the pan and swirl the pan such that the batter distributes to make a thin layer which spreads towards the curving sides of the pan

3. Fry for about a minute and then flip over to the other side until slightly golden.

4. Serve the malawah by spreading melted butter and honey on top or sprinkling some sugar on top.