The Indian tradition of providing quick refreshments to guests has blossomed into the presence of all kinds of snacks in little corner shops and outdoor stalls throughout city streets. These tasty morsels include crispy titbits eaten by the handful, fried savoury treats, and sweet, syrupy goodies.
One of my favourite Indian snack dishes is the savoury “besan chilla.” It’s a skillet-fried pancake featuring besan flour, (also known as gram flour) made from ground brown chickpeas. Add some finely chopped vegetables and a few spices into the bowl, and you have chilla.
It’s so easy to reproduce this Indian snack food at home, and some even eat it for breakfast. Besan flour is available in Indian stores or natural food groceries. If you don’t find besan flour, that’s okay; you can also use chickpea (garbanzo) flour.
Besan flour is a wonder ingredient; it’s gluten-free, but has a sticky quality that binds ingredients without using eggs – so besan chillas are vegan, too. Unlike some Indian delights, chillas are not deep-fried, just pan-fried with hot oil, in a non-stick pan
Chillas are usually served with tamarind or mint chutney or with yoghurt raita – some people even go for ketchup! You can either make a few small pancakes or, as I have done, make one large chilla and cut into wedges to serve.
You can whip up this high-protein recipe whenever you’re in a hurry or want a flavorful snack, bringing a taste of India right into your home. And believe me, everyone who tries chilla will be happy!
Optional add-ins: You can add virtually any chopped vegetables to your chilla! Try grated carrots, beets or radishes. Have fun!
You can also try using kitchen scissors to cut the chilla into sections for serving. I find that easier than a knife because the chilla is quite large, and it’s easier to hold it by the edge while hot and use scissors… but that’s just me!
Last Updated 5 May 2023