Pancake or pizza? Russian 'tabani' resemble both (RECIPE)

Check out how to make tabani with zyret.

Check out how to make tabani with zyret.

Yulia Mulino
The Udmurt dish tabani looks surprisingly familiar to anyone who likes pancakes, but don’t be fooled - they’re truly exceptional. Let's see what’s so special about this exotic-sounding dish.

Tabani is a sort of thick pancake based on a sourdough batter. It may be made with wheat, buckwheat or even pea flour. Usually, it’s a breakfast dish for special occasions. Tabani are often used as a traditional welcome treat that hospitable hostesses greet guests with. During festivals or at public markets these pancakes are presented as local street food.

The traditional way of making tabani is in a wood-fired brick stove. Just like pizza, one may argue! However, unlike pizza, tabani are baked in a cast-iron pan, and they puff up and take the shape of a ball. When taken out of the stove they go flat again, are covered with a generous amount of butter and served straight away.

Nowadays, tabani are made at home just like normal pancakes. What’s special about tabani is the fact they’re made with a long-sitting yeast dough. That's why they have a slightly sour taste, and become soft and elastic. It’s highly recommended to prepare the dough in the evening and bake tabani for breakfast.

The best sauce for tabani is zyret, which is a flour sauce based on milk and eggs. There are many recipes for this dressing, sweet and salty. I chose the one based only on milk and added nutmeg (like in bechamel).

Reading about tabani, I realized they’re often cooked with various toppings. One of the most common are green onions, mushrooms and meat, as well as sweet toppings like apples. I chose two combinations: chanterelle with shallots, and pumpkin with smoked bacon. Both go perfectly well with tabani.

The nice thing about tabani is that you cut them in quarters and eat with your hands by dipping them in the zyret sauce.

While this Udmurt dish comes close to pancakes with its soft elastic structure melting in your mouth, the topping and the way you eat tabani reminds one of pizza. Overall, tabani with zyret is something extraordinary and unforgettable! 


 Tabani (8-9 pcs) 

  • Water/milk - 460 ml
  • Flour - 230 g
  • Yeast (dry) - 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar - 2 tablespoons
  • Salt - 1 teaspoon
  • Butter to grease - 50 g 

Zyret sauce:

  • Milk - 300 ml
  • Flour - 2 tablespoons
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Butter - 50 g
  • Nutmeg (optional) 

Mushroom topping:

  • Chanterelles - 200 g
  • Shalott – 2 pcs
  • Butter – 15 g
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bay leaf 

Pumpkin topping:

  • A quarter of a small pumpkin
  • Smoked bacon – 50 g
  • Salt
  •  Oil to fry 


1. Combine water or milk with sugar and yeast in a deep bowl and mix in half of the amount of flour gradually. Cover the bowl and keep for 8 hours in a warm place. Better to do this in the late evening if you want tabani for breakfast.

2. I prepared zyret as well as toppings the day before. Mix a couple tablespoons of milk with flour in a small cup using a whisk. Make sure the mixture is smooth and has no lumps.

3. Pour the flour mixture into the rest of the milk; add sugar, salt and start warming. Stir the milk constantly so the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom.

4. When the sauce gets thick (it takes about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and stir the butter into the sauce. I added nutmeg for extra flavor.

5. Place the sauce into a ceramic cup; cover with plastic film (make sure the sauce is no longer hot) and let cool. Keep zyret in a fridge until needed.

6. For the mushroom topping, fry shallot in a mixture of butter and oil till soft and transparent. Wash the chanterelle thoroughly, dry and add to the softened onions. Add seasoning and fry the mushrooms for about 10 minutes till soft. The first topping is ready. Cool and keep in the fridge till needed.

7. To make pumpkin topping, slightly melt pieces of bacon in a pan. Cut the pumpkin into 4 mm slices and add to the bacon. Season the topping and let fry for about 5 minutes. Don’t let the pumpkin get too soft.

8. After 8 hours, add the rest of flour and salt to the bubbling dough, mix, cover and let stay another 40 minutes.

9. Warm a pan very well, grease with oil and pour the dough into the pan.

10. Wait till you see the first bubbles and add the topping, which should stick to the upper part of the tabani.

11. When the upper part is dry, turn the pancake carefully and fry the other part. Grease tabani with butter while still warm.

12. Cut tabani in quarters and serve with zyret. Repeat this with the other topping.


READ MORE: Manty: Huge and tasty dumplings with meat and potatoes (RECIPE)


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