Besan (Gram Flour) Chilla Pancake, Vegan & Gluten Free
Besan chillas/cheelas or pancakes were very popular in our parent's house, specially on a rainy day. We sometimes had them for Sunday brunch, served with fresh yoghurt, a selection of pickles and Sweet Mango Chutney. You can also serve these with various fillings, just like Dosa filling. Carom seeds are usually added to Bengal Gram flour recipes, because it is an antiflatulent.
There is no egg in these pancakes, so it is suitable for Vegans. They are quite easy to make, if you read and followed the instructions carefully. Enjoy!
Edited September 2020
100 gm. gram flour or besan
1/2 onion, medium size, peeled, washed and finely chopped*
2 green chillies, finely chopped*
A handful of fresh coriander leaves, washed and finely chopped* (optional)
1 tomato of medium size (100 gm.), washed and chopped into small pieces (optional)
1 level tsp. carom or ajwain seeds
Salt to taste
100 ml. water or cultured butter-milk or mattha.
Oil for frying
*These can be chopped all together in a food processor
Mix all ingredients, except cooking oil, & make a pancake-like, runny/dropping consistency batter. Beat well. You can use an electric beater for ease. The one in the picture needs a little more water to make it of a runny, spreadable consistency.
Heat 1/2 tsp. oil on a griddle or tava, until a little smoke rises. Now turn heat down to medium.
Sprinkle a few drops of water and spread it lightly using a clean and moist J-cloth or a kitchen paper towel. This will leave a thin, uniform layer of oil covering the whole griddle. It stops the 'chilla' from sticking to the griddle while you are spreading it. Too much oil on the other hand makes it very difficult to spread the batter, it keeps coming off the griddle. So the griddle must have only a thin film of oil.
Put 1 small ladle full of batter in the centre of the griddle and spread evenly with the ladle, in circular motions going outwards, like a pancake. Make it as thin as you can. You should make the first dosa or pancake as a test pancake only. It sometimes sticks to the pan a little. After 1st chilla, the pan is uniformly covered by a film of oil and pancakes cook better.
Trickle a few drops of oil from the edges of the chilla. This will seep under the pancake and keep the pan oiled.
Cook for 1-2 minutes. It will change to a duller colour. Now turn it over using a thin, wide spatula (kauncha).
Lightly brush with oil, while the other side is cooking.
Flip it over a few times, until it looks golden brown and slightly crisp. If you need to, brush with a little more oil, this helps to make it crisp.
Fold it over onto the plate. Serve hot and crisp, with pickles, natural yoghurt and sweet mango chutney.