These coconut pancakes take me straight back to Christmases of my childhood where the traditions of my Austrian born mother melded with the unique flavours of Sri Lanka. The term “pani pol” refers specifically to the filling which is traditionally served with imbul kiri (milk rice) and string hoppers. If you can’t find palm treacle, golden syrup is a good substitute.






Skill level

Average: 3.9 (84 votes)


Pancake mix

  • 2 eggs
  • 75 g (½ cup) plain flour
  • 300 ml milk 
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • pinch of ground turmeric

Pani pol

  • 250 ml (1 cup) palm treacle
  • 2 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ stick cinnamon
  • 100 g (1 cup) freshly grated coconut, or frozen fresh grated coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
  • 50 g (¼ cup firmly-packed) grated palm sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 30 minutes

To make the pancakes, place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a hand-held whisk to beat until smooth. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, if necessary adjust with a little extra flour or milk. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug, then cover and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.

Meanwhile, to make the pani pol, place the palm treacle, palm sugar and all the spices in a saucepan and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved. Don’t cook it too long or the treacle will caramelise and it will set too hard. Add the vanilla and coconut and stir till all the coconut is coated with the treacle mix and the coconut is warm

Heat a 20 cm non-stick or cured cast iron frying pan over medium heat. Lightly wipe the base with a piece of paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Holding the pan with one hand and tilting while you pour, add just enough batter to the pan to cover the base. Cook for about 2 minutes or until just set but not coloured, then turn and cook for another 30 seconds. Slide onto a plate and repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the pancakes as you go.

To assemble, place 1 tablespoon of pani pol onto the centre of each pancake, removing any whole spices you can see. Fold the bottom over the filling, then roll up, folding in the sides as you go. Serve warm or cold with coconut or vanilla ice-cream.


Destination Flavour Christmas airs December 16, 4:30pm on SBS ONE.