Takes me back two years - when I used to work in the sleepy town of Stafford at the UK, one or other of my colleagues would prepare & distribute a quick lunch at the office on friday noons for a small sum – stuff like burgers, pasties etc. This was convention, and I was slow on the take actually since they almost always made it with bacon or other meat that I did not quite like, not cooked to my liking at least. After a while the guys stopped asking since they did not have a variation suiting me.
However one day, one of them made something and called me to inform that it was vegetarian, filled with cheese. With great trepidation, I took a look at what he was making, before finalizing my reply. I was surprised; it looked like a limp Dosa actually. Then he put in the cheese, some hot chilly sauce, rolled it up and gave it to me. It was not too bad for a hungry stomach. The chap, a local lad from Stafford, stated that those were called Staffordshire oatcakes or Staffie Oaties. Then he asked me if I knew the history behind this oatcake and I confessed that I did not have the faintest. Apparently some Colonel (now why is it that Colonel’s always end up with the recipes? Like our KFC Chicken colonel? Did they not have anything better to do?) from the Staffordshire regiment based in Madras during the late 19th century brought home the idea to UK. He and his blokes liked the Dosa in Madras very much and came back to try out all the combinations. After many efforts, a version was made with oatmeal and it is now the ever so popular Staffordshire oatcakes. Well the South Indian connoisseur will balk at the version, no doubt, but it was an interesting trivia …Instead of eating it with Chutney, Podi, Chammandi, Sambar and so on, they eat it with all kinds of hot sauces, with the oatcake packed like a masala dosa, together with bacon, fried eggs, meat, sausage, cheese and so on…Most people had forgotten the real origins and knowing only Chappati and Poppadom (remember our Shilpa Shetty & big brother crisis??) started equating the oatcake to both those Indian items, I am rather sure about this, it simply does not share any constituency with a Phulka or Pappadum.… So if you Google around, you may find it called as ‘Potteries Poppodum’
Some even call it an ‘oatcake – a produce from the gods’. To sum up – it looks & tastes much like our Wheat dosa or Gothambu dosa…Imagine, some even consider this oatcake an aphrodisiac…well, the dosa does not do any such thing..
You can find a number of Staffordshire oatcake recipes on the BBC Stoke site. Staffies are very fond of it and Stoke on Trent incidentally is a place close to Stafford. All the famous potteries were located in Stoke, once upon a time but today it is mainly home to a lot of people of foreign origin – like Pakistanis, Africans, Arabs etc…
As one magazine article explains: "What divides Britain – more surely than accent or class – is where you can find the Staffordshire Oatcake". And another, while asking "Well, how do you eat yours?" goes on to say: "Whatever your preference, you can bet that you'll be eating this regional food exclusively in only one corner of the world, and for those of you who are reading this article outside North Staffordshire, I'm talking about the oatcake – that is, the oatcake of the Potteries and its surrounding towns". Nothing at all like its Scottish or Derbyshire cousins, it has the appearance of a moist pancake, or crêpe, and is made (usually from a 'secret' recipe) largely from oatmeal and yeast. To some, it's the 'Oat cuisine' of The Potteries; others still describe it as the 'Tunstall tortilla', 'Potteries poppadom', or 'Clay suzette'. Oatcakes tend mostly to be eaten warm, with the choice of sweet or savoury filling placed on the top and then rolled into a 'wrap'. And while an increasing number of leading restaurants and teashops now include them on the menu, they remain one of the healthiest of all fast foods. Not to mention (according to some) an aphrodisiac! Described as a "delicacy in its own right", the oatcake is longed-for by Potteries' 'exiles', and has won fans for as long as it has been made. TV celebrity chef Lesley Waters is one of its greatest fans. Jane Grigson is a convert. And Rick Stein waxed lyrical about them on TV. Though, not quite as lyrically as artist and poet Arthur Berry, who penned an Ode to the Oatcake – and who also issued the warning that: over-indulgence can lead to bulgence. – Jane Randall Stoke City tourism manager
This page links all other BBC Staffie Oatie pages.
Oatcake origin - The word oatcake is acually a derivation of 'hosecake ' and dates from the time of the Chartist riots in the 19th century, when there was an acute shortage of shoe leather. It was found that when oats were mixed with water and baked it was equally as tough as leather and could be used as a substitute, hence hosecake. When the leather shortage was over, since their was no further use for the hosecake, the locals decided to eat them and the name was changed to oatcakeBill Carr - Fegg Hayes, Stoke-on-Trent
There are even more connections between the dosa, Stafford, dogs and Madras. Dosa is a Korean dog (actually called Tosa)…and well, in Korea they did eat dogs. Staffordshire terrier – is a famous breed of dog that was brought to madras by the Brits. But Staffie oaties are as explained, a distant relative of our South Indian Dosa.