One of the world's oldest dishes, the pancake was made originally with a mixture of meal and water and cooked on hot stones. Over the centuries the popularity of this round, flat creation became universal and, enhanced with such addition as eggs, milk and butter, its form more delicate.

Just about every nation has one or more characteristic pancakes that range from the Chinese doily to the Jewish blintz. Until the recent crepe mania swept our country, Americans were devotees of hearty thick pancakes, enjoyed primarily for breakfast.

While they did not originate pancakes, Hungarian cooks developed them into a creative art long ago and pancake dishes have a place of honor as supper or luncheon entrees and desserts, but they are never served for breakfast.

The basic Hungarian pancake, palacintas , is similar to the French crepe but generally is thinner and more delicate. The batter is quickly cooked in butter until the pancake is translucent-thin, light golden and tender.

For entrees, the pancakes either may be filled and rolled, or spread and stacked with mixtures of meats, seafood or vegetables; particular favorites are ham, veal, cabbage, mushrooms and crayfish fillings. Very often the dish is topped with sour cream, or perhaps a sauce featuring sour cream or cheese.

Hungarian desert pancakdes are especially notable. They are served flat or wrapped around fillings, including such fruits as apricot and plum, jams or marmalades, liqueur-flavored whipped cream, chocolate sauce, groun nuts or poppy seeds, or one made with cottage cheese, sour cream, raisins, sugar and vanilla or grated lemond rind.

Given below are recipes for two Hungarian pancake deserts. PANCAKES WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE

(10 to 12 servings) 2 eggs, beaten 1 1/2 cups milk 1 tablespoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup flour Butter for frying Apricot, strawberry or rasperry jam 1 cup prepared chocolate sauce 2 tablespoons light rum

Combine eggs, milk, sugar, salt and flour in a medium bowl; mix with a whisk until smooth. Heat a lightly greased 7-inch or 8-inch skillet. Add 3 tablespoons batter all at once (preferably from a small glass; quickly tilt pan to spread evenly. Cook over medium heat until underside is golden. Turn over with a spatula and cook on other side. Turn out on a warm plate and keep warm in 250 degree oven. Continue to cook other pancakes. Spread each with a thin layer of jam and roll or fold over. Serve at once with chocolate sauce and rum, previously heated together. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired. CHEESE-FILLED PANCAKES (10 to 12 servings) 2 eggs, beaten 1 table-spoons melted butter or margarine 1 cup milk 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup flour 1 1/2 cups dry small-curd cottage cheese 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup sugar 1 1/2 cup sugar 1 1/2 cups sour cream at room temperature Confectioners' sugar

Combines eggs, butter, milk, salt and flour in a medium bowl; mix with a whisk until smooth. Heat a lightly greased 7-or-8-inch skillet; add 3 tablespoons batter all at once. Tilt pan at one to spread batter evenly. Cook over medium heat until underside of pancake is golden. Turn over with a spatula; cook on other side. Turn out on a warm plate and keep warm in 250 degree oven. Continue to cook other pancakes.

Combine cottage cheese, drained of all liquid, vanilla and sugar. Spread each pancake evenly with cheese mixture, roll up each one, folding in sides to enclose filling. Arrange, side by side, in a shallow baking dish. Cover with sour cream and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Bake, covered with foil, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.