Embracing the plant-based lifestyle in Malaysia

Charcoal Buckwheat Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

Charcoal Buckwheat Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

A winner of a weekend starts with pancakes. Actually, any day of winning starts with pancakes! It’s the easiest thing for me to whip up for friends who host me overseas, as chances are high that they have all the ingredients already available in their pantry (the only thing I tend to need is plant-based milk, which is not difficult to find anyway).

But if you want to treat yourself on a slow morning with not-so-regular pantry arsenal, keep reading!
I’ve been more mindful of my gluten intake these days, because once I started thinking of all the things that contain gluten, it’s pretty scary how prevalent it is in the food we eat. For example, if you eat a roti canai for breakfast, a pasta salad for lunch, some biscuits for tea and a regular burger for dinner, you just had gluten the WHOLE damn day. With gluten capable of sending the body into inflammation overdrive, and also experiencing frequent bloating on a personal level, ol’ Auntie Vina here does her best to space out her wheat-based moments.

Hence, buckwheat pancakes!

Credit: Dr. Axe

Despite its name, buckwheat is not a wheat but a seed, and I love its mild earthy, nutty flavour. As whole seeds I love alternating it with my oats for breakfast. And as a flour, I almost exclusively keep it in my pantry for pancakes.

But why stop there for a unique breakfast? Let’s make our friends think we’re cool by adding ACTIVATED CHARCOAL.


I have a huge stash of activated charcoal for adding into my homemade toothpaste. You can purchase it at most baking supply stores.



I don’t add it into food all too often, because it’s a tricky ingredient that sucks moisture out of any recipe, and an absolute pain to clean off my clothes and kitchen counter. For its detoxification capabilities, you can only benefit from this if used under specific circumstances e.g. taking it right immediately after ingesting something toxic, before the toxin gets absorbed through the intestines. It might offer a tiny benefit when added to food, but I wouldn’t count on using it in food for a body overhaul. So for the sake of aesthetics, let’s indulge.



I make my pancakes in an egg pan (I don’t use it for eggs, clearly!) to get them nice and round and in flip-friendly sizes. The downside is only being able to make them one at a time, which could mean that your first pancake would have turned cold by the time you’re done making the last. The cooking time I’ve put down in the recipe reflects how long it would take if done one by one. But if you have a larger pan that can cook a few at a time, you can definitely shave off the minutes by up to half. Or if you like them big, making two monster pancakes would get you done in the kitchen in a jiffy.



Look how bubbly they get!



If you want, you can heat up some gula melaka (palm sugar block) in the pan with water and let it reduce a little into a syrup to pour over your pancakes. If you prefer buying it, Gula Melts in Malaysia offers coconut nectar that drizzles like a dream.



Decorate it anyhow you like and enjoy it with your morning cuppa. I love having it sweet with chocolate syrup, nut butter, jam, or all four! But you can also enjoy it savoury with tofu scramble, baked beans and/or plant-based sausages. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days and eaten cold, or heated via steaming or toaster oven.


Darkness is not always a bad place to be!

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Charcoal Buckwheat Pancakes

August 21, 2020
: 2-3
: 5 min
: 20 min
: 25 min
: Easy Peasy

A fun and no-frill way to start your day, these light and fluffy pancakes can easily become a staple in your weekend breakfast rotation.


  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp activated charcoal
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp Cooking oil (optional) + extra for cooking pan
  • Step 1 Mix all ingredients together until well combined.
  • Step 2 Add a little bit of oil to a pan and place it on medium heat. Let it warm up for a minute or two if needed.
  • Step 3 Pour 2 or more tablespoons of mixture into pan to form 1 pancake.
  • Step 4 When bubbles start to form and dry on the top surface, and just as the top surface begins to firm up and solidify, flip the pancake. You may need to wait up to 20-30 seconds, but it depends on how hot your pan is.
  • Step 5 Allow the other side to cook for the same time. Both sides should show signs of browning. You may wish to flip the pancake again to ensure this.
  • Step 6 Remove pancake from pan and repeat procedure with remaining pancakes.
  • Step 7 Serve immediately.

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