Before we sat out for our adventure, we strolled around our brick walled school playground waiting for the gates to officially open. When the walls were being newly painted a few years go, they were a light violet pink and despite not being my favourite colour, for a year the school looked prettier than it ever did. It looked all beige now, so did the backdrop of buildings that stood around it. Desert bathes everything in its sand hue. If you got to the roof top, you could see my building, a 7 storey low building, conveniently sand coloured, so it never requires a repaint.
It was the only school I had known, the school my friends went to, neighbours went to and my cousins. It wasn't the matter of being the best school, but it was conveniently ten steps away from home. It was also as Indian as a school could get, an important consideration for my parents who despite being away from India wanted to keep us as close to Indian culture and upbringing as they could. So we talked about how uncool our parents were, even though all I wanted to ask was, what does one eat for brunch? To risk asking a new friend what was cool to be eaten at brunch was questionable. So we sat in the cab, giggling away half anxiously half excitedly about our escape.
I looked at her admiringly, her lush green eyes, long dark black silky hair that fell in a perfect U shape, her sleeves neatly folded up and pressed white cotton shirt tucked neatly into the the concrete grey skirt which fell just above her knee. My own skirt was just a few inches above my ankle, for my conservative Ammi never saw the reason to wear it any shorter. My sleeves were rolled all the way down which was my own way of hiding the black facial hair on my hands which Ammi wouldn't allow me to wax away.
The restaurant was moderately packed with adults and I wondered if they had escaped from work to eat at this odd hour too. The menu had few choices but I bleeped at the idea of finally experiencing true American pancakes. Having read enough American fiction, I knew what they were, how they should be eaten, but here I was, dressed in my school uniform waiting for it with the same excitement and lust I have over Ammi's mutton biryani. My friend ordered an egg burger, which was equally odd but it must taste like Ammi's egg sandwich, I thought.
Savory Pea and Carrot Pancakes with Avocado Mint Dip
I can't exactly remember when my mother started making this savoury pancakes at home but every time she did I was tempted to tell her about my escape for brunch and how bad those pancakes tasted! This is a bit refined version compared to my mom’s thinner pancakes that are milk based. Feel free to use scallions too if you had any for the recipe.
1 cup flour (all purpose or spelt)
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 carrots, grated
1 small bell pepper, grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh peas
1 ½ tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp freshly ground cumin powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
Avocado Mint Dip
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup coriander leaves
10 mint leaves
1 green chili
juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk and keep aside.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, garam masala and salt. Then mix in the carrots, bell peppers, chillies and peas. Tip in the sour cream and mix until just combined (don’t over mix).
Stir in the egg mixture into the flour.
Heat a frying pan over medium-low heat and melt some oil in the pan. Drop batter by 1/4 cup servings onto the pan.
Cook on the first side until holes start to form on the surface and edges begin to brown. Flip to the other side and cook for another minute.
For the dip, blend together all the ingredients until smooth.
Serve the pancakes warm with the dip.