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Friday, August 12, 2022

Besan Chilla | Chilla Recipe (Quick Gram Flour Pancakes)

  Besan Chilla | Chilla Recipe (Quick Gram Flour Pancakes)

Besan Chilla or Besan Cheela is a delicious and healthy savory Indian pancake recipe made with nutty gram flour (besan), sweet onions, tangy tomatoes, fragrant spices and herbs. Fill the batter with your favorite grated vegetables to make your meal more nutritious, and serve as a quick breakfast, brunch, or even as a late-night snack.

What is Chilla

Chilla or cheela is the Indian version of a pancake. Made with various cereal or lentil flours, they can be savory or sweet.

In the Indian cuisine, there are many variations of chilla that are prepared. Chilla is also referred to as ‘puda’ or ‘pudla’ in other parts of India.

Besan Chilla is a savory version made with gram flour, which is simply ground black chickpeas without the husks or skins.

In Hindi, besan is gram flour and chilla is a pancake. So you see the word ‘besan chilla‘ exactly translates to gram flour pancake.

You can make Besan Chilla either crisp or soft. If you spread the batter thickly, you get a soft chilla. If you make a slightly thin batter and evenly spread it, you get crispy besan chilla. Adding more oil also helps in making the chilla crispy.

besan Chilla can be on your breakfast or snack menu as a healthy protein-rich pancake for yourself and your family.

About This Besan Chilla Recipe

The besan chilla recipe is a breeze to make and comes together in 30 minutes right from the preparation to cooking the pancakes.

Because I actually make besan chilla, or besan ka cheela, often, I was surprised when I realized I never managed to add my recipe — so here is my go to traditional besan chilla recipe that I’ve been cooking for years!

I remember making besan cheela in my teenage years for myself and my sister as our evening snack. Both of us would relish it with some white bread and tomato ketchup. Those were the days!

A basic chilla recipe would include just the spices, no onions or tomatoes. There are a number of different variations that can be done to a basic chilla recipe because it really is a very adaptable and customizable dish.

I love to add both onions and tomatoes in my chilla recipe. Onions give a nice crunch and that light sweet taste, while tomatoes add so much of tang and some umami.

In fact if you like, you can increase the tomatoes in my recipe. I assure you the chilla will still taste fabulous.

How to Make Besan Chilla

Preparation for the Batter

1. First, measure 1 cup of gram flour (besan) and pour it into a mixing bowl. Replace gram flour with chickpea flour if you do not have it.

2. Next, add in your chopped veggies and herbs. It’s important to make sure all of these ingredients are FINELY chopped, otherwise, it becomes difficult to spread the chilla in the pan.

Here are the ingredients you should include in this step:

¼ cup finely chopped onions

¼ cup finely chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger

¼ cup finely chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)

½ teaspoon finely chopped green chilies or serrano peppers

NOTE: If you’re cooking besan cheela for smaller children, I’d recommend leaving out the green chilies and red chilli powder altogether. On the other hand, if you prefer more heat, you can add up to ⅔ teaspoon of the finely chopped chilies.

3. Then it is time to mix in the spices, including 2 to 3 pinches of turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain) and ¼ teaspoon red chili powder. Also add salt as per your liking at this step.

NOTE: If needed, you can substitute cumin seeds in this besan chilla recipe if you do not have carom seeds or omit them completely. Carom seeds help in digestion and also give a good flavor to the chilla.

4. Before you start to stir or combine your ingredients, first add half a cup of water to the besan cheela mixture.

Make Chilla Batter

5. Next use a wired whisk to combine all of the besan chilla ingredients. Then, add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of water, depending on the quality and texture of the besan.

TIP: Coarsely ground besan will need more water than finely ground besan.

6. Continue whisking until the batter has a smooth, flowing consistency. There shouldn’t be any lumps, so make sure to break those up while mixing the batter.

Make Besan Chilla

7. Finally, you can begin cooking your besan chilla! I use a tawa (flat, round-shaped pan) to cook my besan cheela, but you can also use any well seasoned frying pan or a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan.

Whichever type of pan you’re using, heat it on a low to medium-low heat and ladle batter onto the center, much like making pancakes.

If you’re using iron skillet or tawa or a steel frying pan, let the pan become medium-hot and spread a bit of oil on it before adding the batter. Take a ladle or ¼ to ⅓ of a measuring cup full of the batter and pour on the pan.

8. Next, gently use the back of the ladle or measuring cup (if you have used one) to spread the batter. Make sure you are spreading the batter gently so that the chilla does not break.

9. Then continue to cook the chilla on a low to medium-low heat until the top begins to look cooked or you start seeing some air-pockets.

10. Additionally, you can drizzle oil (about ½ to 1 teaspoon) on the chilla at the edges and all around while it is cooking to help it not stick to the pan.

In fact for a crispy chilla, you need to add more oil on the pan or skillet before pouring the batter.

11. Next continue to cook until the base gets light golden.

12. Then it’s time to flip your besan cheela and cook the other side.

13. Then continue cooking until you see golden spots on the besan chilla. Cook your besan chilla evenly and well. You can flip the chilla once or twice for even cooking.

14. Finally, fold your besan chilla and serve them while they’re hot! Continue to make all chilla this way. If you make a larger batch, then cook chilla on two pans or skillets.

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