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Recipe for
Tagenitai (Pancakes)

by Galen, Quoted in Oribasius Medical Compilations

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Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.

Yes, this book has a new cover, but I like this one better. Blah, I am so horrible.
AFAIK, this recipe comes from Grant and was inserted by original site author (I will say again to PLEASE buy these author's books! By doing so, you will help support them — even for books that are older and might not sell as well anymore... These authors do not do this for money, they do it for love. Please support them!

If you try to make a pancake with just flour and water, the results, are either a heavy cake with a tendency to burn or a thin friable wafer that is too greasy to be edible. What is called for is a leavening agent, either egg, as in the French crêpe, or yeast, as in the Italian pizza al tegame. Oribasius would surely have mentioned eggs in his recipe as they are a distinct ingredient, whilst the yeast could be in the form of a nugget of sour dough that would hardly require mention in description of bread. I specify yeast, on the assumption that it is easier to use. These pancakes are still quite oily, but they are quite light and tasty.

Original recipe:

Translation: 'Pancakes are prepared with just olive oil; the olive oil is put into a frying pan which is placed over a smokeless fire, and onto the heated olive oil is poured the meal with a lot of water; then as it is briskly fried in the olive oil it sets and thickens like fresh cheese; at which point those who are preparing it turn it over at once, causing the upper surface to be bottom so that it is in contact with the frying pan, and what was formerly at the bottom, when it is sufficiently cooked, they raise up so that it is at the top; and when the part that is underneath bas set, they turn the pancake over again perhaps two or three times, until it seems to them to be cooked evenly... Some people mix with it some honey, and there are those who mix in some sea salt too; this is in fact a sort of flat cake, just like the other such sorts of flat cake which people in the country and the poor in the city make in a rough and ready fashion.'


  • 200 g/7 oz wholemeal flour
  • ½ litre/i pint warm water
  • ½ t. dried yeast
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • Olive oil for frying


  • Dissolve the sugar in 100ml/3 fl oz of water.
  • Add the dried yeast and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Mix the yeast mixture into the flour, add salt to taste and the rest of the water. Stir until you have a smooth batter, then cover with cling film and allow to settle for one hour.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  • Starting from the centre and working outwards, Gradually pour a ladle of batter into the pan
  • Fry until firm enough to turn over. Repeat the turning process to ensure the pancakes are cooked throughout and they are golden brown.
  • Continue until all the batter has been used.
  • Serve.
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