Family Somali pancake recipe pleases foodies of all cultures

Malawax, the Somali take on flatbread that many other nations around the world enjoy, is both an easy recipe and a versatile indulgence.

Photo by Miski Mohamed

Malawax, the Somali take on flatbread that many other nations around the world enjoy, is both an easy recipe and a versatile indulgence.

Pancakes are a staple in many countries for a good reason: whether savory or sweet, nearly every variety is the ideal comfort food. Cultures across the globe have given their take on the pancake different names ranging from crepes to msemen to Indonesian serabi. The Somali version is called malawax, and it’s similar to Somali canjeelo (or injera), but it’s made differently across regions and homes. Here’s how my household makes it.

Ingredients:

The portions are adjustable

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 cup of your choice of milk
  • ⅓ cup sugar 
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup water (you might need more if the batter is too thick, but it’s better to start off small and then add more) 

Instructions:

  • Sift the flour and sugar and mix together in a large bowl.
  • Add in the olive oil, milk and eggs, and then mix together.
  • Slowly add in the water. Add more if needed until you get the consistency of regular pancake batter — not too thick or too watery.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat it with oil.
  • Pour some of the batter onto the skillet and spread it in circular motions from the center and move outwards.

A common way to make malawax is to make circular motions with batter on an oiled skillet, drizzle it with some olive oil and then flip to get that golden color on both sides. My sister goes so far as to add some sugar directly and fold it up before taking a bite. There’s no one correct way to cook or eat malawax because, at the end of the day, it’s a pancake and, no matter what, it’ll be delicious.