Lachuch לחוח: A Yemenite Spongy Bread/Yeast & Hilbe (Fenugreek) Pancake

As I promised in my Shuk (Market) HaCarmel Tour post, I am sharing a recipe Irit taught me while we were at her little restaurant at the market. I volunteered Inbal of Delicious Israel as our model as I was snapping the images. Isn't she perfect?! 

Little did I know as I mentioned in my previous post that fenugreek has fermenting traits. Furthermore I didn't have a clue fenugreek is used in this Yemenite spongy yeasted bread/pancake, called lachuch (lachooch). I think it is Irit's little twist. 

Lachuch is similar to the Ethiopian injera but I believe injera is made with teff flour. Some say similar to the Indian Appam which I believe is made of rice flour. 

As Irit does not really measure the ingredients I made lachuch today at home back in the US. I photographed it per Irit's serving suggestion but the photograph had such a different feel to it than the ones I snapped in Israel that I decided against including it. You can view it on Food Wanderings' Facebook page here

My suggestion is, use a light well seasoned frying pan but not a cast iron heavy skillet. I did and regretted it. This batter is a tad different and the heavy pan was making it challenging to manipulate it. Read the instructions. I hope you will find some interesting tips here, as I did.
Sift 1/2 kg (1.102 lbs) flour first. Add  1 tablespoon yeast (approximately 1 1/2 active dry yeast packets, 1/4 oz packets each), 1/4-1/2 teaspoon hilbe (fenugreek powder) or according to taste (fenugreek has fermenting trait in addition to the yeast) and....
...add water a cup at a time. Mix batter after each cup of water is added. Mix in the same direction, decide clockwise or counter clockwise, this is one of Irit's tips.
Gauge how much water to add as you go along, approximately 4 cups of water in total.  You need to reach this pancake batter consistency. Sprinkle 1/4-1/2 teaspoon on top of the batter without mixing. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the batter rise for an hour.
Do not let batter rise beyond an hour. The dough will sour. That is another one of Irit's wise and knowledgeable tips. We were a tad late heading back so she deflated the batter and let it rise a second rise for about 10-20 minutes longer. The batter has to have some rise to it, see below, otherwise it won't have those air bubble holes that are so emblematic to the lachuch.
Ok this is where it is getting tricky as cool as Irit's method is I won't recommend to use it at home. She heats up a lot of vegetable oil in the pan and empties it out into another dish when it gets hot. Pours the batter into the pan and swirls a bit while holding the pan's handle, and cooks uncovered on medium for about 4-5 minutes. Take out and fold into half on a plate. Adjust heat if needed as each stove is different. First pancake, like any other pancake, won't be perfect.
Next, this is the part I won't recommend, just before she pours the batter into the pan to make the next pancake, she turns the pan while holding the handle upside down and runs cold water from the faucet on it. The pan will sizzle. I skip that step. Then she turns it back to right side and puts it back on a medium heat stove. Adds a bit of oil. You can brush oil on. Make sure the brush bristles aren't plastic. Pour some batter and repeat process until all batter is gone.
See how pretty these air bubbles are.
You can make the entire batch and reheat. While traditionally served with stews and soups, Irit suggested crack a couple of eggs on one half, fold the pancake over the eggs, cover with a lid and let cook for few minutes based on how you like your eggs done and serve with grated tomato, I like roma, mixed a bit with Yemenite green or red schug. Schug is the Yemenite Harissa. You can substitute it with harissa if you wish. Photo of the egg version you can find on Food Wanderings' FB page.
Another suggestion was to serve this pancake with a chocolate spread.
If you look in the background, you will see the lachuch. That is what Jonathan had with the shakshuka Irit made for him. Read the previous post for background.
Irit not only squeezed orange juice but she also made us some fresh lemonade.
Other posts in the Israel Travel Series:
Capitolina's Indian Kulfi Ice Cream

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