Besan Chilla also known as Besan ka Cheela is a vegan, gluten-free, and protein-packed Indian pancake made with gram flour, and veggies and flavored with Indian spices. These savory gram flour pancakes are easy, nutritious, and perfect with chutney, pickle, or ketchup, for breakfast, snacks, or kids lunchbox!
Besan Chilla (Cheela) is a protein-packed gram flour pancake and such a great breakfast option.
As a kid, I was not very fond of eggs but I loved the concept of an omelet so Mom would often whip up this Besan Chilla or Tomato Omelette (as we called it growing up).
It has gram flour (or besan) instead of eggs. Think of it like a vegan omelet or an eggless omelet.
What is Besan Chilla?
Besan Chilla also known as Besan Cheela, Besan ka chilla, Pudla, or Puda is an eggless Indian savory pancake made with gram flour (chickpea flour and Besan).
It is also known as an eggless omelet since it looks like an omelet.
There are many variations of cheela based on the flour used like rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, semolina, soaked and ground pulses/lentils, or gram flour (as used in this recipe).
Besan Cheela is super easy to make and healthy too since it's made with gram flour as the main ingredient which is gluten-free, and rich in protein, iron, and fiber.
Bonus is the addition of veggies and spices which impart a great crunch and flavor to these pancakes.
For this recipe, I've used just onion, tomato, and bell pepper to make the Besan chilla but you can add/substitute any of these veggies with your choice like grated carrots, beets, bottled gourd, zucchini are some options.
Gram flour (Besan): It is also known as besan or chickpea flour. It has a distinct nutty flavor and is made from ground chickpeas (chana dal). It is gluten-free flour with high protein and fiber content, making it an excellent choice for both savory and sweet dishes. You can find it in Indian grocery stores or on Amazon.
Veggies: I prefer adding onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers to my chilla but you can also add other veggies like grated carrots, zucchini, cooked beetroot, finely chopped cabbage, fenugreek (methi), and spinach.
Spices: Ajwain or carom seeds (aids digestion), salt, turmeric, and Kashmiri red chili powder are the only spices I use. You can also add garam masala for more flavor.
Green chili and Ginger: Both add tons of flavor to the chilla. Green chili adds a kick of spice (you can skip it too) and ginger gives a nice aroma and helps digestion.
Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds tons of fresh herby flavor.
In addition, you will need water for making batter and oil for cooking.
Please refer to the recipe card for exact measurements of ingredients.
How To Make Besan Chilla (Stepwise Photos)
1 - In a mixing bowl, add the gram flour (you can sift the flour too), turmeric powder, red chili powder, ajwain, asafoetida (hing), and salt.
2 - Using a whisk, mix all the dry ingredients. Add water, half a cup at a time and whisk until smooth without any lumps. I used about 1 cup of water. The consistency should be pouring.
3 - Next add the veggies - onion, tomato, bell pepper, green chilies, ginger, and cilantro leaves. Mix until everything is well combined.
4 - The batter should be pouring consistency so in case you feel the batter has become thick after adding the veggies adjust the consistency by adding some water (a tablespoon at a time). Mine was just right with the original 1 cup of water we added before.
5 - Heat the pan on medium heat. Add a ladle full of the batter to the pan and spread it as thin as possible.
6 to 8 - Drizzle some oil (about a teaspoon) around the chilla and on the top, cover, and cook until the batter is all cooked on the top about 2 minutes. Ensure the bottom side is not turning brown too quickly in which case adjust the heat).
9 and 10 - Flip using a spatula and let the other side cook too.
11 and 12 - Press down and cook until you see golden brown spots. Once done, remove it onto a plate. Besan Chilla is ready!
Repeat these steps for the remaining ones.
For every pancake, turn the heat to low, and wipe the pan with a wet kitchen towel to bring the pan temperature down. The pan should be hot but not extra hot. This helps in spreading the batter and not cooking it right away.
Pour and spread the batter and then raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook as mentioned in the steps below. Repeat this for every pancake you make.
Besan chilla or Tomato Omelette can be eaten for breakfast, snacks, or as an easy brunch, or dinner option.
Serve it hot on its own or with bread along with some Green Chutney, pickle, and/or Ketchup. Pair it with chai, coffee, or lassi for a complete meal.
It also makes an excellent kids' lunch box option (serve the condiments on the side).
I love eating this omelet with bread as a sandwich just like an egg omelet. Makes it such a filling meal.
Besan Chilla Sandwich
Use the chilla as a filling between two slices of bread or in a bun. Add some lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and your favorite condiments (chutney, pickle, or ketchup) for a tasty sandwich.
If you have an extra batter that you don't intend to use immediately, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days.
Leftover cooked besan chilla can also be refrigerated. Allow the chilla to cool to room temperature then store them in an airtight container, separated by parchment paper between them (to prevent sticking together).
To reheat refrigerated chilla, lightly toast them in a pan or skillet until they become warm and crisp again.
Ensure the batter is smooth, lump-free, and has a pouring consistency similar to that of pancake batter. It should not be too thick or too thin (watery). Test with a small pancake and adjust the water or gram flour as needed to achieve this.
The amount of water can vary depending on the quality and quality of the besan. Take into account the amount of veggies used too.
For making chilla, you can use a good quality non-stick pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. I find an 8.5-inch pan is the perfect size.
Heat the pan over medium heat. Cooking on high heat might brown the chilla quickly on the outside while leaving the inside undercooked.
If the griddle is too hot, turn down the heat, wipe it with a wet kitchen towel to bring down the temperature, and then spread the batter.
After pouring the batter, cover the pan with a lid. This helps in even cooking and also makes the chilla fluffy.
You can also add paneer to the batter or grated paneer or cheese over the cooked chilla for added protein.
Frequently Asked Questions
While besan chilla is best enjoyed fresh off the pan, you can make the batter in advance (without veggies) and store it in the refrigerator for a day or two. Add veggies to the batter and cook the chilla before serving for the best taste and texture.
To make crispy chilla, ensure that the batter is not too thick, and the pan is well-heated. Cook it on medium heat and use a bit of oil or ghee for a crispier texture.
Yes, besan chilla (gram flour pancakes) can be a healthy choice, especially when prepared and eaten fresh. Gram flour is a good source of plant-based protein, is naturally gluten-free, and contains dietary fiber, which aids digestion and helps keep you feeling full for longer.
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Besan Chilla (Savory Gram Flour Pancakes)
- 1 cup besan gram flour
- ¼ cup onion finely chopped
- ¼ cup tomato finely chopped, 1 small tomato
- ¼ cup green bell pepper finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger grated
- 1-2 green chillies finely chopped, adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ to 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ajwain carom seeds
- ¼ teaspoon asafoetida hing
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1 to 1¼ cup water to make batter
- oil for cooking as required
- In a mixing bowl add the gram flour (you can sift the flour if you prefer to do so), turmeric powder, red chilli powder, ajwain, hing, and salt.
- Using a whisk mix all these dry ingredients and then add water, half cup at a time. I used about 1 cup water. The consistency should be pouring.
- Mix well till incorporated and smooth without any lumps.
- Next add the veggies - onion, tomato,bell pepper, green chillies, ginger and cilantro leaves. Mix until everything is well combined.
- The batter should be pouring consistency so incase you feel the batter has become thick after adding the veggies adjust the consistency by adding some water. Mine was just right with the original 1 cup of water we added before.
How to make Besan Chilla
- Heat up the pan on medium heat and once hot add a ladle full of the batter to the pan and spread it as thin as possible.
- Drizzle some oil (about a teaspoon) around the chilla and on the top, cover, and cook until the batter is all cooked on the top about 1-2 minutes.Ensure the bottom side is not turning brown too quickly in which case adjust the heat).
- Flip using a spatula and let the other side cook too. Press down and cook until you see golden brown spots. Once done, remove it onto a plate. Besan Chilla is ready!
- Repeat these steps for the remaining ones. Wipe the pan with a wet kitchen towel to bring the pan temp down for the next pancake. Make sure the pan is hot but not very hot otherwise they will brown quickly.
- Serve Besan chilla with chutney and ketchup with hot tea!