Today is Pancake Day, and last week I marked the occasion on Great British Chefs with an article about my favourite savoury pancakes. In writing that post I re-discovered one of my old favourites, the Besan Cheela.
Fellow fans of Indian food may know that “Besan” is the Hindi / Northern Indian word for chickpea flour, and a “Besan Cheela” is a very simple savoury chickpea flour pancake that’s the perfect delivery device for chutney, pickles and yogurt.
You can make these pancakes simply with salt, water and chickpea flour, but I like to spice it up: a bit of chilli powder and fresh coriander goes a long way. But you can go even father with Urvashi Roe’s (The Botanical Baker‘s) spice blend of ajowan seed, turmeric, cumin, coriander and fresh ginger and garlic. I’ve also enjoyed these with a bit of sauteed onion and peas in the mix.
You can eat a Besan Cheela all proper-like with a knife and fork, but I like to use my hands, ripping off pieces of the pancake to dip in mint chutney, or wrapping it in cabbage salad or lentils and eating it like a taco. I’ve also been known to adapt a Besan Cheela into a vegan omelet. And why not? The Besan Cheela is inherently vegan and gluten-free, so makes a great pancake (or omelet!) option for people who don’t eat wheat or dairy (neither of which I am, but it’s good to be aware of these things for the people who are!).
On that note, I’ve recently been trying to eat more savoury breakfasts lately and the Besan Cheela is a total win. Yes – Indian food for breakfast rocks. Cheela with lime pickle is a great way to start the day. Who’s with me?
Before I adjourn to the Besan Cheela recipe, here are a few other pancake (or pancake-ish) recipes for Pancake Day that you might enjoy:
- Basic Buckwheat Crepes
- Vegan Buckwheat Crepes
- Vegan Cornmeal Crepes
- Sourdough Buckwheat Pancakes
- Sourdough Buckwheat Crepes
Inspired by mytastycurry.com‘s basic Besan Cheela recipe and Urvashi Roe’s spice blend. I also really like these with sauteed onion and peas added to the mix. Serve with fresh yogurt and
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tsp each salt and chilli
- 1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander (optional)
- 1/4 tsp each ajowan seed and turmeric (optional)
- ~1tsp each grated fresh ginger and garlic (optional)
- Fresh coriander leaves
- Whisk all of the ingredients together into a batter, adding a bit more water to get a consistency that will spread out in the pan (it might take a few pancakes to get this right).
- Heat a nonstick pan on medium and smear it with a little ghee or oil. Ladle some batter into the pan (I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup for this) and swirl it swiftly to get a pancake (if it doesn’t swirl easily, you you need to add a bit more water to the batter).
- Cook the pancake on one side until it’s almost completely dry on top and golden on the bottom (you may have to adjust the heat to keep it from burning). Flip the pancake and cook until the other side is golden, too.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Per pancake: 94 Calories | 1.6 grams Fat | 15.6 grams Carbohydrates | 4.9 grams Protein | 4.4 grams Fiber