Besan Chilla | Chilla Recipe (Savory Gram Flour Pancakes)

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Besan Chilla or besan cheela is a delicious and healthy savory Indian pancake recipe made with gram flour (besan), aromatics and tomatoes. 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.

top shot of cooked and folded besan chillas on red plate with fresh herbs garnished on top

About 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.

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.

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.

Apart from veggies, you can add greens like amaranth, fenugreek (methi) and spinach (palak). I like to add grated cabbage and carrot myself.

Give these Chilla Recipe Variations a Try!

  1. Oats Chilla: Healthy fibre rich chilla made with oats, besan and spices.
  2. Rava Chilla: Super easy to make savory pancakes made with sooji or semolina.
  3. Moong Dal Cheela: Another version of nutritious protein rich cheela made with moong lentils.
Step-by-Step Guide

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.

top shot of gram flour in mixing bowl

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.

top shot of finely chopped vegetables and herbs poured onto gram flour in mixing bowl

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.

carom seeds added to the bowl

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

water added in the bowl

Whisk ingredients together

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.

top shot of besan chilla batter in mixing bowl with wire whisk

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.

ladle scooping besan chilla batter out of mixing bowl

Begin to cook 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.

ladle pouring batter onto center of flat pan on stove

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.

batter being spread neatly with the spoon on the skillet

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.

top shot of batter cooking on the skillet

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.

oil being drizzled with a small steel spoon on the besan chilla

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

top of the chilla cooked and opaque

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

top shot of flipped side of besan chilla on skillet

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.

cooked besan chilla lifted with a spatula

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.

cooked and folded besan chilla being taken off of pan with spatula

Storage

Besan Chilla are best served hot and crisp as soon as they are made. They taste good when they become warm too.

If I plan to serve them later in the day, I stack them in a steel box or a roti box which keeps them warm and moist.

Make these as needed. I do not suggest to make a large batch for storage. On refrigeration the chilla becomes dry and lightly dense.

Reheating them does not bring up the original flavors and they taste kind of dull.

What to eat with besan chilla?

Serve besan chilla as it is or with a side dip of coriander chutney or mint chutney or any chutney of your choice or with tomato ketchup. You can serve it with plain curd (yogurt) or raita.

We also like to have it with roti or bread. I sometimes make simple sandwiches stuffing the chilla between two bread slices spread with some coriander chutney and butter. Yum!

For more besan recipes, you can check this 50 Gram Flour Recipes.

Tips

Helpful Tips

  • Not just for breakfast. In addition to being a great breakfast food, besan chilla is the perfect recipe for an impromptu brunch or even an late-night snack. Simply mix the ingredients, then cook in a pan for a delicious dish in less than 20 minutes.
  • I prefer tomatoes in all most (if not all) of my recipes because they just taste so good! If you’re less of a fan, you can skip the tomatoes and add in your own favorite ingredients, such as broccoli, carrots, bottle gourd, pumpkin or zucchini. Remember, though, if you’re using tomatoes or other veggies, it’s important to finely chop or even grate them.
  • Fresh besan. Make sure to use besan that is fresh and not rancid. If the flour looks like having clumps and has a bitter aroma or taste, the besan is not fresh.
  • Scaling. You can easily scale the chilla recipe and make a big batch.
  • Leavening ingredients. Generally, we do not add any leavening ingredients like baking soda or baking powder in besan chilla. But for a fluffy soft chilla like that of a vegan omelette, you can add a pinch of baking soda or ¼ teaspoon baking powder in the batter.
top shot of cooked and folded besan chillas on red plate with fresh herbs garnished on top

FAQs

Is this a kid-friendly recipe?

Kids love eating besan chilla, even with the veggies (sometimes). For small kids, I would recommend skipping the green chilies and red chili powder, just to ensure it’s not spicy.

What can you use instead of besan?

Besan, or gram flour, is definitely the best choice for this recipe (and has a great taste, too!), but if you are unable to find, then chickpea flour – which is ground white chickpea, is probably your best gram flour substitute.

Is besan chilla good for weight loss?

Unlike traditional pancakes, besan chilla is good for weight loss if you reduce the oil or make them without oil.

Is besan chilla healthy?

Yes of course. Besan chilla is a healthy as gram flour is rich in protein and other essential nutrients.

More Breakfast Recipes To Try!

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top shot of cooked and folded besan chillas on red plate with fresh herbs garnished on top

Besan Chilla Recipe (Savory Gram Flour Pancakes)

Besan Chilla or besan cheela is a savory Indian pancake recipe made with gram flour (besan), onions, tomatoes, herbs and spices. You can add your favorite grated vegetables to make these more nutritious, and serve as a quick breakfast, brunch, or even as a late-night snack.
4.79 from 56 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Cuisine North Indian, Punjabi
Course Breakfast
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Easy
Servings 6 besan chilla
Units

Ingredients

  • 1 cup besan (gram flour), 100 grams
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onions or 1 small onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped tomatoes or 1 small tomato
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • ½ to ⅔ teaspoon finely chopped green chilies or serrano pepper
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger or ½ inch
  • ½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 2 to 3 pinches turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • ½ to ⅔ cup water or add as required
  • salt as required
  • oil as required

Instructions
 

Making chilla batter

  • Take the gram flour in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the onions, tomatoes, ginger, green chillies ground spices, carom seeds, coriander leaves and salt.
  • First add ½ cup water and with a wired whisk begin to mix.
  • If the batter looks thick, then add 1 to 3 tablespoons more water. Depending on the quality and texture of besan, you can add less or more water.
  • Mix to a smooth flowing consistency in the batter. Break lumps if any while mixing batter.

Cooking besan chilla

  • Heat a frying pan or a skillet on a low to medium-low heat. You can use an iron skillet or a non-stick pan. If using iron skillet or tawa, then spread a bit of oil on it.
  • Let the pan become medium hot. Then take a ladle full of the batter and pour on the pan
  • Gently with the back of the ladle, begin to spread the batter.
  • Spread lightly and gently so that the cheela does not break.
  • On a low flame cook the chilla till the top begins to look cooked.
  • Then drizzle ½ to 1 teaspoon oil on the chilla at the edges and all around.
  • Continue to cook till the base gets light golden.
  • Flip and now cook the other side.
  • Cook this side until you see golden spots on the besan chilla.
  • Fold and serve chilla hot or warm. Besan chilla are best had hot. But if you are not able to serve them hot, then place them in a roti basket or casserole. They remain warm and can be served later.

Serving suggestions

  • Enjoy besan chilla as it is or with a side dip of coriander chutney or mint chutney or any chutney of your choice or with tomato ketchup. You can serve it with plain curd (yogurt) or raita.
  • We also like to have it with roti or bread. I sometimes make simple sandwiches stuffing the chilla between two bread slices spread with some coriander chutney and butter. You can make the besan chilla sandwich with toasted bread if you like.

Storage

  • Besan Chilla are best served hot and crisp as soon as they are made. They taste good when they become warm too.
  • If I plan to serve them later in the day, I stack them in a steel box or a roti box which keeps them warm and moist.
  • Make these as needed. I do not suggest to make a large batch for storage. On refrigeration the chilla becomes dry and lightly dense. Reheating them does not bring up the original flavors and they taste kind of dull.

Video

Notes

  • Veggies: I like to add tomatoes in my chilla recipe. If you are not a fan, you can skip the tomatoes and add your own favorite veggies, such as broccoli, carrots, bottle gourd, pumpkin or zucchini. Remember, though, if you’re using tomatoes or other veggies, it’s important to finely chop or even grate them. You can also add greens like amaranth, fenugreek leaves and spinach.
  • Fresh besan: Make sure to use besan that is fresh and not rancid. If the flour looks like having clumps and has a bitter aroma or taste, the besan is not fresh.
  • Scaling: You can easily scale the chilla recipe and make a big batch.
  • Spicing: For small kids, skip the green chilies and red chili powder. Spices can be altered as per your taste.
  • Leavening ingredients: Generally, we do not add any leavening ingredients like baking soda or baking powder to the besan chilla batter. But for a fluffy, soft chilla like that of a vegan omelette, you can add a pinch of baking soda or ¼ teaspoon baking powder to the batter.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Besan Chilla Recipe (Savory Gram Flour Pancakes)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 108 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 1mg0%
Sodium 210mg9%
Potassium 168mg5%
Carbohydrates 10g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 122IU2%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Vitamin E 2mg13%
Vitamin K 3µg3%
Calcium 5mg1%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 3µg1%
Iron 4mg22%
Magnesium 3mg1%
Phosphorus 5mg1%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This besan chilla recipe from the archives, first published in May 2016 has been republished and updated on Feb 2021.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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61 Comments

  1. This is a very simple as well as very tasty recipe 😋😋. Just like Saxena ji I like it.5 stars

  2. Hi Dassana ji, big fan of you and your recipes. You are always my family’s first reference point as every recipe of yours is promising. Please continue to share and help us with your recipes. Big big big thank you.

    1. Hi Himani, thank you so much for your sweet words. Feels good to read your feedback. Yes, I have many recipes waiting to be shared. Thanks again and most welcome.

  3. Hello Dassana!

    I followed your suggestion and made this chilla.
    I skipped the chilies as I don’t like spicy food (and I’m on an indian website… I’ll have to adjust to that!), and ended up adding quite a lot of tomato, onions, and coriander, making it very rich.

    It took me ages to chop them as I had never chopped anything before, but now I got the hang of it. Gotta start somewhere!

    I did use fresh ginger, powder turmeric, and cumin seeds, but I put too little in it because I feared not liking the taste. Next time I’ll put more, I really like ginger despite it being spicy; I kept eating some raw pieces, very unique flavour, never had it here. The turmeric is incredible, just a little pinch made it all yellow!
    I was suggested to add a pinch of baking soda to make it fluff a bit more.

    I managed to find the right consistency after adding extra water, and I was a bit scared when pouring the batter, as I have never cooked something like this and it would be easy to make a mess or burn it. I didn’t! Turned out really nice and rich in flavour! (OK, maybe I did burn the first one a bit…)

    We ate them for dinner, we liked it and it fills really quickly; easy to make and nutritious, and I liked the besan flour used this way.
    Even my indian colleague liked it, I have her approval 🙂 she calls it dosa.

    Thanks for the recipe and the suggestions, next time I want to try fereni suggested by a persian friend, and I already noticed you have made a recipe for it!

    Have a nice day!

    D5 stars

    1. hello D. that is great. i am happy that you liked the taste of besan chilla. ginger gives a really good taste. baking soda is not necessary, but yes adding them make the chilla soft and fluffy. if you can get black salt, adding a few pinches of it also gives a good taste. consistency can be adjusted with adding less or more water. less water will give thick chilla and adding more water will make them like crepes.

      most welcome and thanks for sharing the detailed feedback. you will like phirni too. i hope it goes well for you. you too have a nice day.

      regards
      dassana

  4. Hi Dassana,whenever I have to google a recipe,I just seek ur recipes as your recipes as relatable,fuss free,u provide many options as well as u take care they are healthy..today I want to thank you coz I always check the recipe and never put any comment of ur hard work n just keep the praises with myself..keep exploring good luck!!

    1. thanks jaishree for sharing your sentiments. i appreciate that. felt nice to read your comment. thanks again and wish you all the best.

  5. Following your recipes for last 7-8 yrs. Great collection.
    Adding a dash of lemon juice or chaat masala gives this recipe a great zing. All time favorite ,vegge besan chilla, of my kids.healthy and yummy.4 stars

    1. thank you pammy. yes, that can be done and both lemon juice and chaat masala will definitely make the besan chilla chatpata. thanks for sharing this tip and for the rating as well.

  6. Hi Madam..I like all your recipes.i tried this recipe however my chila was sticking to the pan and was breaking.could you please guide me?

    1. when making chilla or dosa, use a pan which is seasoned well – meaning the pan should be used only for making dosa. you can find more information on seasoning pans in google. the pan should also be a heavy pan and not light-weight. if the pan is light, then the chilla will stick.

  7. I made the dish. As you stated we can add veggies as per our choice, i usually add grated green pepper and carrots, as i an a non-veggie i add one egg as well but i skip tomato as they make chillas little soggy by lunch time (i make for office tiffin). And i dont any masala apart from little black pepper.
    Apart from the recipe i want to tell you that you are my inspiration for cooking, following you since 2010 or 2009 maybe when i was in school. Hhahaaa still whenever i search for a recipe i dont have to go far from your site. I recently found you created a youtube channel as well. Subbed right away. Love you a lot from kolkata5 stars

    1. thank you rumi. yes carrots and capsicum can be added. even i add them on occasions. skipping tomatoes is good if packing besan chilla. hugs to you and all the best.

    1. Sri, if you refrigerate the batter then the taste changes. so better to make it fresh.

  8. Hi Dassana, love your site!!! Can i ask – the ajwain, ginger, onions – can I tadka/fry them before adding to the batter to release the flavours?
    Thanks!
    Kas

  9. Tried it today they came out superb. Thanks for sharing.
    However, the chillas were very soft even after keeping on the tawa for a long time. Is there a way to make them crispy?4 stars

    1. rithika, for crisp chillas make the batter sligthtly more thin. use some more oil and spread the batter thinly like a dosa batter. for this to happen, you have to mince or finely chop the onions, tomatoes etc.

  10. Hi, lovely recipe indeed. Besan (gram flour) is actually very healthy option for breakfast ingredient. What we all do wrong is deep fry it and decrease the nutritional value of it. However, this recipe is quite good. It uses very nominal oil and uses veggies too. The looks are tempting and off course, would be yummy too. Thanks for sharing this. I will definitely try this and share the outcome.4 stars

    1. pooja, yes you can make sweet cheelas. i wanted to add a recipe of sweet cheela but not getting time. you can either use besan or atta. with besan, add some sugar and cardamom powder. with atta, you can add sugar or jaggery and fennel seeds (saunf) or cardamom powder.

  11. Hi,
    Your website is my go to site for anything Indian. Fantastic job! Thank you.
    I just wanted to say that the dual language recipe format is very very confusing. It would be better to have them separately. It’s a real pain when you need to read something quickly and you have to wade through two kinds of text to find what you’re looking for. Your previous single language format was clearer and easier to refer to. Please try to revert. Thanks.5 stars

    1. hi nivedita, this dual format is a technical error. we are not doing it or implementing it. as the database is same for both english and hindi sites, its taking the hindi language as well for some recipes which have been or are being translated in hindi. we are looking in to this. there were some recipes which refused to come back to the original english language and after a lot of trial and error, we managed to get the hindi language deleted from these recipes.

  12. hi dassana, avid follower of the site and app, pls mention suitable chutneys to go with the cheela?

    1. thanks resh. green spicy chutney, dry garlic chutney, coconut chutney will go well with the cheela. let us know once you try the combination thanks.

  13. The recipe was awesome n it was very tasty.thanks for providing so yummy and brilliant recipe like besan ka chilla

  14. I tried it n it was yummy… Infact I was surprised I could even prepare it but all thanks to you ?????

    1. thank you titiksha for your positive views. glad our blog could help you in preparing besan cheela 🙂 you are welcome.

  15. Hi Dassana,

    I tried the besan cheela for breakfast today. While the taste was pretty good, I had difficulty in flipping over the cheela without breaking. Even though I used a non stick pan and made much smaller cheela than the one in your pics, it just wouldn’t flip over in a single piece. Where did I go wrong?4 stars

    1. shaheen, two things could be an issue. either water became too much in the cheelas or the cheelas were not cooked till golden & firm before flipping them. the amount of water to be added depends on the quality of besan. sometimes besan requires less water and some type of besan requires more water. if the batter becomes thin, then you can always add some more tablespoons of besan. while cooking if the cheela has become crisp and golden from the base, then you can easily flip them without breaking them. also try not to make them very thin like dosas, otherwise they will break. hope these suggestions help.

  16. thank you this is a very handy and tasty dish without much fuss and time involvement 🙂

  17. I love Indian food and I love your recipes – with one exception. Please understand that not everyone uses a microwave oven or pressure cooker – please include instructions for conventional cooking methods in your recipes.
    Thanks!

    1. kat, i will try to add these. being in india, most households use pressure cooker. so thats why i mention about pressure cooker in the posts.

  18. if we mix besan with water & leave it for 20-30 minutes & then add onions tomatoes etc at the time of cooking our cheela will be more fluffy & tasty

    1. thanks for the suggestion manoj. usually i make chillas straightway after mixing, but will try this method next time.

  19. Actually I’m a south Indian from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, but I learned the TIFFEN SAMBAR recipe from ur blog only… and it became my MIL favorite…

  20. super recipe… I love ur all recipes. I learned lot of tips from ur recipe guidance. thank u mam.