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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tiganites: Greek Pancakes (Τηγανίτες)

Aunt Jemima or Uncle Socrates? Click to Enlarge Image.

What did the ancient Greeks eat? This question has been asked for centuries and it has spawned numerous scholarly, specialist, and dilettante studies on the matter. There have also been countless attempts at re-creating ancient Greek recipes and the Internet is full of such investigations. However, we need not look too hard to discover one ancient Greek food which is still around today; indeed it is a staple of numerous modern European and North American cuisines.

In Canada and the United States we know them as pancakes or flapjacks, in France they are called crêpes, and the Scots and Irish know them as drop-scones or griddlecakes; in Australia and New Zealand they are referred to as pikelets, and in Russia they are blini. The Greeks call them tiganites (Gk. τηγανίτες, pronounced as “tee-gha-NEE-tehs”) which is from the ancient Greek taginites (ταγηνίτης) and they have been a popular breakfast food in Greece since at least the 6th century B.C. The oldest reference available to us is from an ancient Athenian comic poet named Cratinus who describes the steam rising from warm pancakes in the morning; these pancakes were generally served with honey poured overtop, as well as fruits and nuts.

To this day, tiganites are popular throughout Greece. They are served much as they were 2600 years ago, usually with honey drizzled overtop, and sometimes with cinnamon, fruits and nuts, or a soft fresh sheep and goat’s milk cheese known as anthotyro spread over them. There is even a religious festival on the island of Corfu (Kerkyra) where they serve their traditional ‘tiganites tou Aghiou’ or “the Saint’s Pancakes” on December 12, in honour of that island’s patron Saint Spyridon. So, the next time you sit down in front of a plate of steaming pancakes, you can reflect on how little some things have changed since the time of Socrates.


1 cup (250 ml.) all purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml.) of milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon (15 ml.) Greek extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon (5 ml.) baking powder* (optional)
½ teaspoon salt (3 ml.)
Butter for frying
Greek blossom honey or maple syrup for topping
Some chopped fresh fruits and/or walnuts* (optional)

  1. Combine and sift the flour, baking powder * (optional) and salt into a mixing bowl. (I used the baking powder as I like a fluffier pancake, but it is not necessary)
  2. Beat the egg in a separate mixing bowl then add the olive oil and milk and mix together well, then add mixture to the bowl with the flour and whisk to combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a smooth batter. If you prefer a thinner pancake, add a little more milk to the batter.
  3. Heat a medium sized frying pan and add a tablespoonful of butter to melt over a medium heat. (Traditionally, olive oil is used instead of butter to fry the tiganites, but I also use butter from time to time as I like the flavour and it results in a lighter pancake.) Once the butter has melted, use a ladle and drop a dollop of the batter into the centre of the pan such that it will spread out into a disc as it cooks. When the edges of the disc start to dry and bubbles appear, flip the pancake to cook the other side and cook till done. Serve hot with some butter and honey drizzled overtop. You can also add some chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Note: As I live in Canada, I oftentimes use excellent Canadian maple syrup in place of the honey which is normally used in Greek cooking.

Makes 6 – 8 tiganites.

Kali Orexi! (Bon Appetit)

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.


Anonymous said...

MMMM. I love your food and find myself getting so excited each time I come across real Greek food lately.

Amazing - do you know what I am wondering? I wonder who made it first and what flour they used and what they thought when they first realized how darned good it was.

It just makes me wonder why the hell we don't just accept Plato's example of good governance and use the example in his Republic, stop making mistake after mistake and just get on with life ...... eating.

For glorious food - I thank you.

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

"Tiganites" are a fantastic "snack" Sam and like you said, taste great with Greek honey. Thanks for another interesting food lesson!

David Hall said...

Its like a massive Scotch pancake! The more the merrier, yum!


Ivy said...

Sam, they are the best with honey, nuts and fruit. I tried maple syrup. It's not to compare.

Peter M said...

Sam, great colour on the tiganites. I think maple syrup would be big in Greece...cha-ching!

Anonymous said...

Another sweet one from the Greek Gourmand!
To add to the variety of cultures that have the pancakes on their menus, it is called clatite in the western Romanian region.
Keep them coming - another wonderful post from the Greek Gourmand!


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Those look beautiful, and I love the sound of honey and cheese on the top.

Anonymous said...

They look wonderful Sam. I'd have to go for a Greek honey and maybe a little yogurt too as a topping.

Thistlemoon said...

Wow! December 12 is my birthday....too bad I don't like pancakes - although I do love crepes, so just call me weird! :)

Lucy..♥ said...

WOW, they look just like the ones my Uncle used to make for us when we were little ones. These look so goood!!!

eatingclubvancouver_js said...

These look scrumptious. And I love the history lesson too. Interesting and gives even more depth to the yummy food.

So Very Domestic said...

Hey! What a great blog! I'm half Greek, my mother is Spartan and though my father is an Anglo mutt he loves Greek food, so I grew up with it. :) I've been looking for your email address on your blog but I can't find it anywhere. I'm launching a website called So Very Domestic in a couple of weeks and I'd love to do an interview with you on Greek cooking. Please get in touch. :) Maytina

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

@Jacoba - Greek food is exciting stuff! As for who made it first... who knows? The oldest historical record points to Greek origin, but it may very well have been made long before, we just don't have any other evidence at this time.

@PeterG - Yes, they are great with Greek honey, and you are welcome! :) Thanks for commenting.

@David Hall -My sentiments exactly! Bring 'em on, one can't have too many pancakes.

@Ivy - Though, like you, I prefer Greek honey over them, maple syrup is also an excellent topping. Here in Canada, we produce the best maple syrup and it is quite good over tiganites. Was the maple syrup you tried from Canada?

@PeterM - Yes, they are quite easy to make and always turn out perfectly. As for maple syrup in Greece, I know they do have it at some specialty shops and some of the larger groceries and it is very expensive, though I am not sure the Greeks are ready to replace their honey with maple syrup just yet... but who knows what the future may hold?

@Gabi - Thanks for the comment and the info on Romanian clatite!

@Lydia - Yes, the cheese and honey is an excellent combination with tiganites and is quite popular in southern Greece.

@culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess -Some yogurt would also make a nice topping for these, as long as it's Greek style strained yogurt, of course. :)

@JennDZ -Well, a very early HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you! :) How about I just call you "Jenn"? :-)

@Lucy - Between your grandfather and my grandmother, I am sure we could reminisce about a whole lot of excellent meals! Thanks for the comment.

@[eatingclub] vancouver -Yes, the historical info always adds somethi more to a dish like this, tickles the imagination as well as the palate.

@May -I have added my email address to my profile, please excuse the oversight! I would very definitely be interested in your interview s please drop me a line at
Thanks for commenting! :)

deb said...

That is a beautiful photo.

Ivy said...

I have an award for you Sam.

Lore said...

Your tiganites look great Sam! I'd have them for breakfast anytime :)

Anonymous said...

Such delicious pancakes, great snack!
I'll have to disagree with Mamaliga's comment as "clatite" are the French crepes. "Placinte" would be more accurate as they are much more thicker, just like your tiganites. We usually eat them filled with sweet or savoury fillings.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam, I have an award for you on my blog.

ΕΛΕΝΑ said...

Sam, tiganites is the ideal breakfast for us.
Yours look so yummy!!
I vote "greek honey" of course:)

Anonymous said...

the original greek recipe about tiganites has just flour,water and a bit of salt.They're fried certainly in olive oil...served with honey-cinnamon or sugar or feta cheese...

Anonymous said...

i like your blog!

Effie said...

I am trying to recreate a recipe for a pan fried flat bread my grandmother called tiganites. We ate them with grated cheese. Anyone have a recipe?