Chickpea flour pancakes (Indian besan chillas)

Indian chickpea flour pancakes chillas

What are Chillas (Indian chickpea flour pancakes)?

When I was a teenager, my dad used to make these for me for breakfast. At the time we were still living in Greece and it was pretty hard to find chickpea flour there, so I remember he brought back a few packs of besan or gram flour from India that we would use very sparingly.

In my father’s recipe (who is Indian, I might add), he would add onions and chopped, fresh green chillies. He also tended to make them on the thick side, and would serve them with chutney and a cup of spiced chai for breakfast.

Fast forward 15 years and here I am, ready to experiment with my own chickpea flour (that’s a lot easier to find nowadays!). Not only is chickpea flour naturally gluten-free, but it’s also high in protein. That said, it can be pretty intense to digest because eating one chilla is kind of like eating an entire can of chickpeas. So yeah, maybe don’t make them for breakfast if you don’t have the stomach of an Indian!

Chickpea flour (besan or gram flour)

My version of Indian chickpea flour pancakes

I’ve been working on this recipe to create a lighter version of these chillas, one that’s more like a crepe than a pancake. And because I’m always trying to get my kids to eat more vegetables, I’ve added chopped baby spinach and grated carrots to the batter. You can also add lots of chopped fresh chilies if you’re not eating this with kids, or you can add more or fewer vegetables to the batter. It’s up to you. The cool thing is that if you use vegetable oil for cooking, then these pancakes are totally vegan, too.

My tips for making Chillas:

  • Try to make the thickness closer to that of a crepe than a pancake. The thicker the Chilla, the less the flour will cook, the harder it will be to digest (especially for little ones!).
  • If your chickpea flour has been sitting around in the back of your cupboard for a couple years, throw it away! Besan or gram flour can go off very quickly and the result will be absolutely disgusting. So smell your flour and make sure it doesn’t smell rancid before deciding to use it to make these pancakes.
  • Serve these chickpea flour pancakes with coriander and mint chutney, or mango pickle. Or, especially for kids, I like to just give them a spoon of Greek yogurt on the side, as well as some lentils cooked in coconut milk.
Ingredients for chickpea flour pancakes
chickpea flour pancakes
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5 from 1 vote

Chickpea flour pancakes (Indian Besan Chillas)

A traditional Indian pancake or crepe, filled with vegetables and made using chickpea flour. Also known as Besan Chillas in India.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: chickpea flour pancake, chillas, crepe, gram flour, Indian chickpea flour crepes, Indian chickpea flour pancakes, Indian crepe, Indian pancake, pancake
Servings: 20 chillas
Calories: 150kcal
Author: Gitanjali

Ingredients

  • 250 g chickpea flour known as Besan or Gram flour in Indian supermarkets
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 handful baby spinach washed and chopped very finely
  • 1 small onion grated
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 1 green chili finely chopped (optional)
  • 500 ml water plus up to 100 ml more, if needed
  • vegetable oil or melted ghee for cooking

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the chickpea flour and salt, and mix well with a whisk.
  • Add the grated carrot, grated onion, grated ginger, chopped baby spinach, chopped cilantro, and mix well.
  • Start adding water slowly, while whisking, until the batter reaches the consistency of a crepe and should be easy to pour. Or, you can add less water and have them be more like a pancake. The texture is really up to you and what you like, so add more or less water accordingly.
  • Heat a non-stick or cast-iron pan on medium heat. Once hot, add a ladle of batter and spread it out until the crepe is relatively thin.
  • Drizzle half a teaspoon of vegetable oil or melted ghee on the edges (plus a couple of drops on the pancake itself), and then flip after a couple of minutes. Cook the other side for a couple more minutes.
  • The cooked side should have some brown spots and look cooked through. Repeat until you've finished the batter.
Chillas

[Francais]

Voici une super recette de crêpe Indienne qui utilise la farine de pois chiches. Cette recette est très connu en Inde, mais pas vraiment en France car c’est assez récent qu’on commence a trouver de la farine de pois chiches dans les magasins bio et dans quelques grands surface.

Une chose tres importante a retenir: veillez à utiliser une farine de pois chiches ‘fraîche’, dans le sens de “je viens de l’acheter et d’ouvrir le paquet, et ca fait pas 1 ans que ca traine dans mon placard donc il faut peut être que je fasse quelque chose avec…” Vous voyez ce que je veux dire ? La farine de pois chiche peut devenir rance et pourrir très vite. Donc quand vous ouvrez un paquet, profitez pour faire plein de ses crêpes !

La recette des crêpes Indiennes avec de la farine de pois chiches (Chillas)

Ingredients

  • 250 g farine de pois chiches
  • 1 cac sel
  • 500 ml d’eau (et jusqu’à 100 ml de plus, si besoin) 
  • 1 poignée de pousses d’épinards, hachées finement
  • 1 petit oignon, rapee
  • 2 cas de coriandre, haché finement
  • 1 carotte, râpée
  • 2 cac gingembre frais, râpé 
  • 1 piment vert émincé (facultatif)
  • De l’huile vegetale (tournesol ou colza) ou du ghee fondu pour la cuisson

Procedure

  • Mettez la farine de pois chiches et le sel dans un grand bol et mélangez.
  • Rajoutez tous les légumes (carotte, oignon, gingembre, pousses d’epinards, coriandre et piment frais) et mélangez bien avec un fouet.
  • Doucement, rajoutez un petit peu d’eau, tout en fouettant. Si vous voulez une consistance de crêpes, ajoutez plus d’eau. Si vous préférez que ca soit plus comme des pancakes, rajoutez un peu moins d’eau. C’est a vous d’ajuster la quantité d’eau en fonction de votre préférence.
  • Faites chauffer une poêle anti-adhesif ou en fonte sur feu moyen. Quand la poêle est chaude, mettez une louche de pâte au milieu et étalez bien. Avec une petite cuillère, rajoutez un peu d’huile ou de ghee fondu tout autour de la crêpe, et mettez aussi quelques gouttes d’huile sur la crêpe.
  • Retournez apres 2 minutes environ. La face cuite devrait avoir quelques points marron et paraître bien cuite, comme une crepe. Faites cuire l’autre côté, et continuez jusqu’à ce qu’il vous reste plus de pâte.
  • Servez avec du chutney, du yaourt grec, ou meme des lentilles.
Indian chickpea flour pancakes Pinterest

Photo info: the golden cutlery comes from Moodbox Paris and the printed Indian table mats from Jamini Design.


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1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I hope you like this vegan Indian pancake that’s full of fresh veggies! I’d love to know what you think! 🙂

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