**This recipe can easily be made Vegetarian or Vegan**
I mentioned, a few days ago, about using leftover Indian Spiced Shrimp (recipe HERE) to make my husband a special, savory Indian-inspired breakfast. Now, if you don’t eat shrimp, are looking for a vegan option, or are hoping to find a gluten-free alternative to pancakes, this recipe is very flexible and will definitely suit your needs–and your taste-buds!
This recipe came about because I was craving carbs. That’s the simple truth. I wanted carbs, and I wanted them now. More specifically, I wanted pancakes. Big, fluffy pancakes. But, because I’m trying to eat healthy and watch my waistline (a never ending battle!), I thought I’d replace regular flour with besan flour (flour made from ground chickpeas).
Chickpeas are healthy, right? I am always so amazed by how many different things you can make with the humble chickpea! I’ve made everything from Indian spiced hummus, to curries, to pies! Yes, a pie made out of chickpeas! A chai-flavored chickpea pie, to be exact.
I wanted to increase the protein and fiber in my pancake, so I added chopped left-over shrimp and vegetables. It was settled, I knew what was for breakfast. Even better, I had left-over garlic and coriander raita to slather on top!
I thought I’d whip up a simple pakora batter with besan flour (chickpea flour), spices, shrimp and vegetables. Then, I figured I’d add a little extra baking soda–so my pancakes would get fluffy. I wasn’t sure how it’d work, or if my pancakes would cook properly, but I was hopeful.
Half the time when I’m cooking, I have no idea what I’m going to make or how it’s going to turn out. Usually I’m completely surprised when my husband comes home and says, “How did you know to make (insert dish here)?” Then, I look at him and respond, “Oh, that’s what it’s called?”
Such was the case with these delicious besan chillas. I’ve never heard the word chilla before, and now when I google it, I can see the resemblance. Although, mine seems to be a little thicker than most chillas I saw. And here, I thought I was just making a chickpea pancake.
A giant, flattened pakora is actually what I had in mind when I started tossing ingredients into the bowl.
I started by mixing besan with baking soda and salt.
I added water until I had a smooth pakora batter.
I added chopped onion, tomato, coriander, chilies and ginger. I tossed in some ajwain seeds, turmeric, and cracked black pepper.
Then, I chopped the shrimp and mixed everything together really well.
Once my batter was well mixed, I tossed a little ghee on a pan and melted it over medium heat. I scooped 1/2 c. batter onto the pan for each pancake and let them cook until the pancake was really bubbling. Then, I flipped. The pancakes took a little longer than normal to cook through because they were so thick.
I think next time I would grate the vegetables and fine mince the shrimp before adding to the batter. Doing this would also result in a more crepe-like pancake–a proper chilla.
These pancakes were excellent! They had a lot of flavor and are very nutritious. They’re also quite filling, too filling, perhaps.
Besan Chillas: Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Vegetables and Shrimp Recipe
This recipe is quite easy to adapt to fit your dietary needs. Naturally gluten-free and high protein, this pancake can also be made vegan. Simply leave out the shrimp and use oil to coat your pan instead of ghee.
Makes approximately 4 pancakes.
- 1 tsp. ghee (substitute oil, if making vegan)
- 1 1/2 c. Besan Flour (chickpea flour)*
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 c. water, more if needed to thin out the batter
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 roma tomato, chopped finely
- Green chilies, finely chopped or sliced, to your taste
- 1 small handful coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. ginger, smashed and finely minced
- 1/2 tsp. ajwain seeds (may substitute cumin seeds or onion seeds)
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- small pinch of garam masala
- 1/4 lb. shrimp, chopped finely- optional (leave out, if making vegan)
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- In a medium bowl, combine besan flour, baking soda and 1/2 c. of water. Whisk until smooth. Add more water if your batter is too thick.
- Add vegetables, spices and shrimp (if using). Check seasoning and add additional salt–if needed–and pepper. Whisk everything together so that the batter is well mixed and everything is evenly distributed.
- Heat a little ghee (or oil) in a flat pan over medium heat. Once the ghee is melted, scoop 1/2 c. of batter onto the pan and spread the mixture out a little. If you have large chunks of vegetables the pancake will not easily spread on its own.
- Let the pancake cook on one side until the top is rapidly bubbling and the sides seem to be set. Once they reach this point, flip them. Let them cook on the other side until the pancake is cooked through. Mine took longer than normal pancakes because of the shrimp and veggie chunks.
- Once the pancakes are cooked, remove from heat. Stack them on a plate and smother them with chutney, raita or use them to scoop up a delicious vegetarian curry.
I hope you enjoy this healthy and nutritious savory Indian breakfast!