Savoury Indian Chickpea Pancakes (Besan Chilla)
I am having a hard time renaming some of my dishes.
Banana Scramble: I felt Banana Peanut Butter Chia Super Pancake was more accurate
Raw Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake: Better named the delicious birthday Raspberry Dreamcake (yes, I preferred Sarah’s name)
Lentil Mango Picadillo: Greek to me, so it was renamed Latin-Spiced Mango Lentil Salad (kind of boring, though?)
Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl: Rechristened as Warm Lentil, Bulgur and Vegetable Skillet with a Lemon-Tahini Sauce
I swear, vegan food does not need to be a recreation of something dairy or meat-laden. It can just be. Wonderful, in all its glory. Nameless.
While exploring our new neighbourhood, Rob and I discovered new ethnic grocery stores, including a few that carried black salt or kala namak. More pink than black, this salt has been infused with sulfur, rendering an egg-like taste when used in cooking.
We immediately made Besan Chilla (also known as cheela or pudla), which technically is an Indian chickpea-based crepe or pancake. However, I first spotted the recipe on Julia’s blog where she called it a chickpea flour omelette. Omelet or pancake? Rob and I disagreed. The only thing we agreed on was that it was delicious.
Analogies work well when trying to convey a new concept, and for me, these reminded me of a savoury pancake. Too thick for a crepe, too pancake-like to be an omelet. We stuffed the chickpea flour-based pancakes with savoury spices (ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, chili flakes) as well as vegetables including tomato and spinach. Broccoli stems work great, too! Really, pick your favourite veggies ad run with it. The addition of black salt conferred an egg-like taste, which is why this could be described as something similar to an omelet.
Rob can whip up a mean omelet. An egg-based one, though. He did not feel that this version warranted being christened as a vegan omelet, as is. He has vowed to tinker with the recipe, to make it more akin to a traditional omelet.
Until then, I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you because it was really tasty just the way it is. Whatever name you want to attach to it. Besan Chilla, it is for now, with the wonderful black salt. Wonderful for breakfast, or as a light lunch. Mix things up with your favourite spices and vegetables. Serve as is, with chutney on the side, or as a side to a more complete meal with Indian dishes.
Savoury Indian Chickpea Pancakes (Besan Chilla/Cheela/Pudla)
3/4 cup chickpea flour
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1/4 cup tomato, finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1/2 cup water, or just enough to create a pancake-like batter consistency
1 cup baby spinach or broccoli stems, finely chopped
1. Mix chickpea flour, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, turmeric, black salt and chili flakes together. Add in enough water to create a pancake-like batter consistency. Mix well. Stir in spinach leaves.
2. Heat a non-stick skillet and spray lightly with oil. Pour about half a cup of the batter in the centre with a ladle and spread slightly with the bottom of the ladle to get an even-looking round, about five inches in diameter.
3. Cook on medium heat until the sides dry up and the bottom turns richly golden-brown.
4. Flip over and cook until the other side turns golden-brown.