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.
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.
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.
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.
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.