Besan ka cheela / Gram flour pancakes

Snack time is a wonderful time of the day and if you ask me any time is snack time! And after reading Akkta’s roundup of Delhi’s must-visit, must-eat list my mouth has been watering and craving all kinds of delicacies. Good job Akkta and someday I will get to all of those places!

But, seriously, on holidays especially those caused by snow or rain (don’t we all love a day off from work or school because of weather!) food is my go to thing. Cooking and eating then get elevated from their mundaneness and routine to an elaborate affair. The ritual of holiday cooking and eating is special. It’s a relaxing, soothing and comforting activity even if the chosen recipe is as simple and quick as the besan ka cheela. I suppose the calmness and satisfaction comes from knowing that there is nowhere to run to, no train to catch, no meeting to be late for and no class.

Besan ka Cheela

Besan ka Cheela

Here’s to rainy days and snow days. May we always have deliciousness cooking in the kitchen when the weather decides to force its will.

Serves 2, 3-4 pancakes each.

Prep time; 15 mins.

Cooking time; 15 mins.

Ingredients

For the Cheela/Pancakes:

Besan/ gram flour 1 cup

Suji/ fine semolina 1/4 to 1/2 cup

Water 2 cups

Coriander/ cilantro 5-6 twigs, washed and finely chopped

Capsicum/ green pepper 1/2, finely chopped

Onion 1/2 finely chopped

Salt to taste.

Ground black pepper; to taste.

Red chilli powder; 1/2 tsp.

Oil, vegetable or olive. Cooking spray like Pam is preferred.

For the filling:

Paneer/ Indian cottage cheese, half a pound.

Chaat masala, to taste; approximately 1 tsp.

Preparation:

To begin, measure the gram flour and semolina and mix them together in a bowl. I would initially make the cheela with only gram flour (besan) but then a friend shared her mother’s secret of adding semolina (suji) to add a little crispness to the pancakes. So now, I do the same! Semolina is what makes dosas crispy too.

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The mixture

Wash all the vegetables i.e. onion, capsicum and coriander. If you want and like, you can add fresh green chillies too. Also, to add colour replace the green pepper with a red or yellow pepper. Now, finely chop all the vegetables and add them to the flour mix. Sprinkle salt, pepper and red chilli powder. Give it a toss and then start adding water, half cup at a time. Make sure that you are beating the flour mixture while adding in the water otherwise there will be lumps. You need to get a consistency that is runny and thinner compared to traditional pancake batter.

Next put on the griddle (tawa) on high heat initially, then lower it to medium heat. While it is heating up, in a bowl crumble the paneer. Now, the idea of making a filling for the pancakes is borrowed too, from the same girlfriend I mentioned above. This is why women talk, we are repositories of knowledge and we don’t mind sharing it!

Crumbled paneer for the filling

Crumbled paneer for the filling

If the paneer isn’t fresh, i.e. bought the same day and has been in the fridge or freezer, then pop it in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before using. This will of course de-freeze the frozen paneer but also help with the cold one by softening it, making the task of crumbling that much easier. Add to this a dash of chaat masala, mix well and keep aside.

The griddle is probably sizzling by now. Coat it with your preferred oil or cooking spray. Take a ladle of the batter and spread it in a circular motion on the griddle. Don’t worry if you get odd shapes or start drawing maps! That’s usually the case with me! As long as it’s cooked and yummy, all’s well.

Follow the steps clockwise from left top corner. The left bottom corner is the end result.

Follow the steps clockwise from left top corner. The left bottom corner is the end result.

Once you see tiny bubble on the side facing you i.e not in contact with the griddle, flip the pancake. It would’ve begun to brown on the side that was in contact with the griddle. Cook it until you see if fluff up a little. Give it another change of side and now scoop up a spoonful of the paneer and spread it on one half. Gently, with your pancake spatula, fold the other half over it and give it a gently pat. Let it sit for about a minute. Slide off onto a plate and enjoy with condiments of your liking. I love green chutney, yumm!

Let us know how you spent a rainy day or a snow day at home and do let us know what you thought of this snack.

Until another lip-smacking recipe, keep eating & stay healthy!

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