I very lately began using rice flour after reading Sarla Razdan’s book on Kashmiri cuisine. It all started with fried squash blossoms, and now it’s pancakes! Until I read her book, I had no idea that we had pancakes on the subcontinent. In Razdan’s cookbook, rice flour pancakes are created with a simple batter of rice flour and water and seasoned with black cumin. In Sumayya Usmani’s book, Mountain Berries and Desert Spice, I saw another variant of them.

Usmani borrowed a version from one of her Northern Areas friends. She makes them with a coconut milk, cornflour, and water batter, scented with sugar and cardamom pods, and topped with cottage cheese, honey, and poppy seeds.

By adding my mother’s age-old butter-milk pancake recipe, I altered Razdan and Usmani’s rice flour pancake recipes. The addition of buttermilk and baking soda gives the pancakes a more desired, fluffier texture while still keeping Razdan and Usmani’s savoury, smoky flavour. Although this is a non-traditional recipe, if you like the smoky flavour of black cumin as much as I do, you will adore these pancakes. I drizzled them with honey, but I’m sure maple syrup would be delicious as well.


  • 1 cup rice flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black cumin seeds slightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola/sunflower/vegetable oil


  • Mix rice flour, baking soda, salt, black cumin and sugar in bowl. Beat in water and buttermilk into the dry mixture with an electric mixer till well-blended.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Once hot, spoon a ladle of the batter on to the pan and cook each side for 2-3 minutes till light brown and cooked through. Remove from heat. Repeat until you have used up all the batter.


The batter should yield about 8 pancakes, roughly 3 ½ inches wide.

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