Besan Ka Cheela: An Indian Vegetarian Breakfast
By: Nisha Vedi Pawar
Around here, weekends are when we truly enjoy a leisurely breakfast. There is no rush for work or errands and while my little one plays with her Papa, I can experiment in the kitchen with new and family favorite breakfast recipes. A few years ago when my mom was here for my delivery I was craving pakoras but resisted the urge as they were deep fried and I was trying to avoid heavy foods being so close to my delivery date. Mom being mom wanted to fulfill every craving of mine so she suggested she make Besan ka Cheela, savory chickpea flour ‘pancakes’ filled or mixed with vegetables and spices. It hit the spot and my craving was fulfilled!
Besan (chickpea flour) is a common ingredient found in South Asian cuisine. It’s used in desserts, savory snack foods, kadis and breakfast items. It’s even known for its uses in face masks and massage mixtures. Besan ka Cheela is popularly known as being the Indian vegetarian omelette (due to its appearance and ability to stuff it with a variety of vegetables.
I like to add in typical pakora ingredients such as chopped green chilies, onions, cilantro, carom seeds and then dip it in hot and sweet ketchup when it comes off the pan. Many people add tomatoes, paneer and even left over saabzi’s giving it their own twist! This can be a complete family breakfast and can be made last minute. It’s gluten free and vegetarian/vegan friendly. I serve it to my daughter (without green chillies) rolled up. She walks around eating it at her pace and I’m happy she’s getting a healthy breakfast. The recipe can be altered to your spice tolerance and is a great finger food for kids or for adults on the go.
- Spreading the batter thinner while cooking will result in a softer more pliable cheela, allowing you to roll it up with ease.
- Due to its high content of folate, vitamin B-6 and thiamine, expectant mothers are encouraged to include besan in their diets. In fact, gram flour has more protein, fibre, folate and potassium than regular flour.
- Besan is gluten free and a great alternative to wheat flour.
- Cheelas are wonderful for traveling & lunch boxes. They don’t fall apart and taste good even at room temperature.
1 cup Besan (chickpea flour)
1 ½ cup water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 small green chilis, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/3 teaspoon carom seeds
1 teaspoon salt; adjust to taste
2 tablespoons oil or butter
Mix all the ingredients to a smooth batter consistency, adding the water a little at a time. Let rest for 15 minutes. In a heavy bottom pan in medium high heat, warm a teaspoon of oil and spread it evenly throughout the pan. Pour a heaping ladle of batter in the center of the pan, spreading it out in a circular motion. Lower the heat to medium low and let cook until the edges brown slightly and start lifting easily. Flip it over to cook on the other side, repeat with desired amount of cheelas. Serve hot with coriander mint chutney or ketchup.
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