Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela) – Traditional Pancakes Taken To The Next Level

Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela) - Traditional Pancakes Taken To The Next Level | hurrythefoodup.com

This is the most fun I’ve had making breakfast for ages.

I’d been wanting to try chickpea flour pancakes (sometimes known as besan or garbanzo flour too, or even besan chilla and cheela) and there are nearly as many different ways to make them as there are names!

Actually, I’d heard of so many that I got a little stuck with where to start.

I knew I wanted to keep them pretty traditional (I absolutely love Indian food and these have a lot of history in Northern India) and so I wanted to keep that lovely Indian flavour but I also wanted to give them a modern, western twist so they’d be really quick and use no mysterious ingredients I’d have to travel across Europe for.

After plenty of trial and error, this is what was born. Different to most pancakes that we’ve made in the past, these are decidedly savoury.

Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela) - Traditional Pancakes Taken To The Next Level | hurrythefoodup.com

Our now world-famous 2 ingredient pancakes can be eaten both sweet or savoury, as can these high protein cottage cheese, but these chickpea pancakes are something else entirely.

With a pleasingly aromatic smell, these pancakes immediately ask to be paired with pickles and chutneys, or a yogurt or cream dip. Hummus and guacamole also go really well.

And so, dear readers, we give you chickpea pancakes.

A high protein, high fibre breakfast, lunch or dinner that tastes like the best of Indian cuisine while being easy to make, and even easier to eat.

Any vegans out there will also be pleased to hear that these are right up their street, as well will gluten or lactose avoiders.

Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela) - Traditional Pancakes Taken To The Next Level | hurrythefoodup.comChickpea Flour Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela) - Traditional Pancakes Taken To The Next Level | hurrythefoodup.com

Chickpea Pancakes – What I Learnt

As mentioned, these chickpea (or besan/chillas) pancakes are exceptionally easy to make, and made even better when these simple rules are followed.

  • Use a large pan. These pancakes are far superior when they’re thin – easier to flip and the veggies get cooked better too.
  • Use a non-stick pan, and use a little tissue to make sure the surface is evenly coated in oil.
  • Use whatever veg you have laying around. This dish works on so many levels that virtually any vegetable will work with it, so here’s your chance to use those leftovers!
  • Dice the veg finely. The smaller it’s chopped, the better it cooks.
  • Eat them hot! In my humble opinion this is imperative, so if you’re cooking multiple pancakes then keep them warm in the oven.
  • Once they’re all ready, don’t dawdle 🙂

Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela) - Traditional Pancakes Taken To The Next Level | hurrythefoodup.com

To ghee or not to ghee, that is the question.

Throughout my experiments with this recipe, I came across a very interesting topic, worthy of our time.

Ghee is often used in Indian cooking, and, as may well be expected, goes very well as the cooking base in this dish (it replaces the oil).

It is made by melting butter and then removing the milk solids. It still has that buttery taste, and has a really high smoke point, so it’s perfect for pancakes.

It’s also high in vitamins A and E, and according to Care2 it can last for a verrrrry long time!

It is not vegan of course, however it does seem to be one of the only dairy products that is lactose-free, or so low in lactose that it won’t cause a reaction to dairy intolerant people anyway.

You should always check with your doctor of course and that doesn’t mean it’s safe for dairy allergic peeps however, so if you are, we highly advise you stay away!

If you’re interested in ghee and would like to try it, it’s easy to find. You can click here or in the recipe below if you’d like to look at the different types available.

So – up to you. Whether you go with ghee or stick with olive oil, you’re in for a treat. Welcome to the next level of pancake!Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela) - Traditional Pancakes Taken To The Next Level | hurrythefoodup.com

Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela) - Traditional Pancakes Taken To The Next Level | hurrythefoodup.com
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Chickpea Flour Pancakes

A savory pancake begging to be eaten with pickles and chutneys or yogurts and cream. East meets West with this beautifully, wonderfully healthy dish.

Course Breakfast
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 pancakes
Calories 253 kcal
Author HurryTheFoodUp

Ingredients

Optional

  • 1 bell pepper
  • ½ cup peas

Instructions

  1. Add the flour, water, turmeric, salt, pepper and chili flakes (if using) to a mixing bowl and give it a quick blend using a fork or an immersion blender Leave it to settle for a few minutes while you heat up the a tbsp of oil or ghee in a non-stick pan. The batter needs to look very runny!

  2. Dice the veggies finely and add them to the mixture.

  3. Use a tissue or similar (a spray oil would work wonders here) to ensure the bottom of the pan is coated well in oil.

  4. Add about a ladle of the mixture and veggies when the pan is hot - a medium heat should be just right.

  5. Cook for about 3 minutes - the mixture will quickly start to firm. If you’re using two pans, you can make two pancakes at the same time.

  6. Make sure you use a large pan (or pans) here, you’re aiming for thin pancakes. They’re MUCH easier to handle!

  7. Use a large spatula to help you flip the pancakes, adding more oil underneath if necessary. After another 2-3 minutes your pancake will be ready!

  8. Keep it somewhere warm while you repeat with the second pancake, adding more oil when necessary.

  9. Done! Add your desired toppings and enjoy. Remember - it’s important to eat these pancakes warm - don’t let them get cold!

Serving suggestions:

  1. Any chutneys (red onion is a favourite of ours) yogurt dip, hummus, avocado, guacamole, Branston Pickle (if you can find it where you are it goes incredibly well!).

Recipe Notes

IF YOU LIKED THIS RECIPE: then check out Kat’s Overnight Oats for another great breakfast idea. Otherwise this lovely Mango Lassi is a beautiful Indian way to wake up!

Nutrition Facts
Chickpea Flour Pancakes
Amount Per Serving (142 g)
Calories 253 Calories from Fat 91
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10.1g 16%
Saturated Fat 1.3g 7%
Sodium 307mg 13%
Potassium 514mg 15%
Total Carbohydrates 33.8g 11%
Dietary Fiber 9.4g 38%
Sugars 6.4g
Protein 10.1g 20%
Vitamin A 13%
Vitamin C 55%
Calcium 7%
Iron 20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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39 comments

  1. These are my new “go-to” for a quick dinner. Full disclosure, I don’t get all fancy with them. Last night I just spiced the batter with salt, pepper, and sage, and put a little butter on them when I ate them. Best ever was when I had some leftover spiralized butternut squash and tossed that in. So, don’t get hung up on tradition. Once you realize that 1/3 cup of garbo flour mixed with 1/3C water magically turns into dinner while you’re busy feeding the tortoise, you can spread your wings and fly wherever the cupboard takes you. 🙂

  2. I love this recipe and have just discovered this flour (called Gram flour in my local UK Asian store). I use rice bran oil, vegan, healthy and high temperature cooking. It is also brilliant for roasting potatoes and other vegetables and making onion bhajis!

    • Yes, it has various names I noticed. Ah never heard of rice bran oil! Will keep an eye out for it. Thanks Kate 😀

    • Really glad to hear you like the recipe so much too Kate! I just saw this comment and went to make some, then I realised I’m out of chickpea flour. Will pick up more now. Good to know the UK name too, it’ll be easier to find it when I’m next back 🙂

  3. HI I have been making socca for awhile now but now want to make a more filling chickpea
    Pancake with some greens, veggies, herbs etc. but these pancakes are turning out fairly soft,
    Not thin and crispy as I had hoped. Any suggestions?

    • Hiya Karen, good question! Let’s see if we can help you get them nice and crispy. First – could it be that too many veggies are making them too watery (and therefore cooking soft)? Or are you using frozen veg at all perhaps? Otherwise, maybe a little more oil, and a slightly higher heat spring to mind. A good, big pan is definitely the way forward too! I’ll keep thinking about it too 🙂

      • Thanks. I agree maybe too much spinach and cilantro. Should just stick with smaller diced veggies. Will try with the cast iron pan in the oven on high heat next time. Would like to get a flavored pancake rather than just socca bread with toppings, do you know what I mean. Appreciate your reply!

        • Haha yes, certainly! I’d be very interested to hear how they turn out now. Improving/changing recipes is always very important to us, and feedback really helps us! I eat these often too, so I’m glad other people are enjoying them 🙂

  4. This recipe looks great! I like to make my breakfasts ahead of time on Sunday so I don’t have to cook during the week. I know you say don’t let them get cold but is it ok to make these in advance, put them in the fridge and microwave them when ready to eat? What is the downside to this? Thanks!

    • Hi Octavia, I’m really glad you found it – it’s one of my faves! Actually, I can’t see why that wouldn’t work to be honest. Cold they’re not very nice, but reheated they should be fine. Please let me know how it goes!

      • Hi! I too, like to prep as much as possible on a Sunday; would an option be to prep the batter and keep it in the fridge? Would the batter last? Or even if I prepped the batter the night before? Thoughts?

        • Hi Sami, while I haven’t tried that myself, it actually sounds like a great idea. I’d chop any veg at the last minute, but making the batter the night before should be great. Of course, it should probably be covered and then given a quick stir in the morning but I’d imagine you’d be set to go! I think I need to try it myself, too 🙂

        • In the French version of this dish, the batter is left to settle at room temperature for 12 – 24 hours, in addition a couple of tablespoons of olive is added. I wouldn’t add the vegetables until just before frying, so you could dice the and leave in an air proof container in the fridge.

  5. These are good. Great recipe. Added Pea, spring onion and sweetcorn. tried one with cumin seeds but preferred the turmeric flavour without cumin seeds. Pinned to my recipe board now. Thanks for this one.

  6. This would make a nice replacement for chappatis made with wheat, as I have given up gluten.

  7. I have a medical condition where I can’t eat any chilis or hot pepper. What do you suggest as an alternative flavoring.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Gregory, then I’d remove the red chili and simply add half a teaspoon of cumin. It’s traditionally used in many Indian dishes and would definitely fit into this one, too. I’m not sure how curry powder would affect you, but half a teaspoon of that would also be tasty.

    • I don’t add a thing to the batter except for a little olive oil, the nutty flavour of the chickpeas is delicious enough. I like to add some baby spinach and ricotta as a topping, or if the pancake is soft enough, you can just roll them with this as a filling inside. I’ve seen other versions where people add cottage cheese or avocado and little lemon juice. Also, if you keep the pancake plain you can make a sweet mixture of your choice, for example some lightly cooked raspberries or strawberries, maybe a little cream. Endless variations.

  8. Made these for dinner today and added red pepper and roasted sweet potato, super delicious!

  9. I really wanted to enjoy this recipe but I am afraid i did not. i think the turmeric is overpowering, 1/2 cup peas and peppers together is too much for the pancake to hold and I also found that 3 spring onions made it taste a bit too much like spring onion.

    I wish it had more of a flavour that was less turmeric-y. Any suggestions?

    • Oh dear! I’m saddened to hear it didn’t work out so well. With regards to the veg I’ve found the amount seems to work very well with the batter (which would be for four pancakes). I will recheck the numbers though. Flavour-wise I would suggest then a little less tumeric and more curry powder. Maybe 1/2 tsp cumin, too. I hope that helps!

    • Hi, I loved this recipe. Had no spring onion used red onion instead and added a pinch of mustard powder. Turned out great!

  10. Hi, unfortunately this recipe didn’t work out for me at all. First of all, the water was not enough, because it became a thick paste. So I added more than 1 cup in addition. But then I had a lot of clumps instead of a pancake. Could it be that I used the wrong flour? I always make chickpea flour myself by cooking the garbanzo beans and then dehydrating them.

    • Hi Daniela! Sorry to hear the recipe didn’t work out. I’ve made this a couple of times again recently to check the recipe is accurate still and mine turned out well – so I’m not quite sure what happened with yours! Absolutely it could be the flour. I’ll confess I’ve never made my own chickpea flour, I always use store-bought. I think you were right to add a bit more water as the batter does need to be thin, but the lumps don’t sound good. Do you have a hand blender to smooth them out?

  11. Hi Dave, thank you for your message! I guess there is really a difference between store-bought and home made chickpea flour. There weren’t any lumps in the batter itself – it was thick, but smooth. However I couldn’t turn the pancake. It would break, and thus the lumps developed. But it tasted good nevertheless!

    • I’m glad you still enjoyed them anyway, Daniela :). One last thought – could the pan make a difference? If the pans aren’t quite as non-stick as they used to be, maybe some extra oil/ghee would help? Happy cooking!

  12. Hi Dave, we grow chick peas and I decided to Google recipes for chickpea flour to see if it was worth grinding the peas to flour. So im just sharing what a success your recipe is. My flour came out whole grain of course so I sifted the husk off and changed the ratio from 1:1 to 1:1.5. ie. One cup flour to 1.5 cup water then did everything else as you said! Exchanged cumin for the chili tho and im no vegan so added organic grass fed butter and also fried them in that, then topped off with a tiny sprinkle of organic cheese that melted on top just at the end. Great for anyone on a diet or giving up grain, and fantastic savory taste.

    • Hi Katy, thank you for the kind words and thanks for writing all the tips! That’s really cool, and I’m sure that answers some of the questions above. Growing your own chickpeas looks great, I’ve just read up a bit about it. Do you find it easy? Or at least easier with time? Yes, I’m sure the butter is great for cooking them, ghee works wonders, too. Never tried them with cheese, as although I love both cheese and curry (I’m not sure which more 😀 ) I never tried them together before. Perhaps I will now…

  13. These were so simple to make but dropped a tonne of flavour, I love them! I had mine with smashed avocado and diced tomatoes, very filling and tasty. Thanks for recipe!

  14. I didn’t have a lot of luck when I first tried this recipe – too many veg in the mix I think – but I’ve modified it and enjoy at least once a week for breakfast. I use approx 1/3 cup each of chickpea flour and water and a pinch of salt. When cooked I top with a drizzle of maple syrup, sliced banana, maybe a sprinkle of nutmeg and homemade soy yoghurt. So simple and so DELISH! The chickpea and banana flavours really complement each other. YUM. 🙂

    • Ooh nice! I’ve still only eaten this as a savoury pancake, but I can imagine without the veg it could go really nicely with the banana and nutmeg!!

  15. Thank you so much for this super easy and fast pancake recipe. I just added a pinch or two of turmeric and not so much spring onions. I added chopped tomatoes to the batter. These were so good, it will also make a good roti or flat bread. Do you have any Lupinen flour recipes?

    • Hi Deborah! Really glad you enjoyed the pancakes! They’re one of my favourites too. I’m sure the extra turmeric was excellent in them, the tomatoes too. We don’t any have lupine flour recipes I’m afraid – in all honesty I just had to look up what they were. It did take me to a great Monty Python sketch with lupins, but that’s probably not the answer you were looking for. Are they particularly tasty/nutritious?

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