One of my favorite Indian-style breakfasts is a stack of savory pancakes made with chickpea and oat flour, packed with vegetables like spinach, onions, carrots, and ginger, and seasoned with aromatic Indian spices and topped with crispy sesame seeds. Also known as “cheela,” this yummy, healthy pancake can be enjoyed as a breakfast item, snack, or any other meal!
1 cup oat flour
1 cup chickpea flour (also known as gram flour)
2 packed cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 onion, diced finely
2 carrots, grated
3/4 cup peas
1 2" block of ginger, minced
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder (can substitute with crushed red pepper)
1 tsp dried coriander powder
1/8 tsp asafoetida powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water (more or less, as you adjust the consistency)
salt to taste (about 2 tsp does the trick for me!)
(optional) squeeze of lemon or 1-2 tbsp yogurt
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp neutral oil
- In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the sesame seeds and oil. Make sure the batter has a flowy consistency. You may have to thin it out further with a bit more water!
- Heat a medium-large pan on a medium flame.
- Right before you make each cheela, cool the pan by wiping down the surface with a wet paper towel.
- Add a heaping ladle of the batter to your pan and tilt it to spread the batter in an even circle.
- While the surface of the cheela is still uncooked and wet, generously sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.
- Add a few drops of neutral oil around the edges of the cheela.
- Cover the pan with a lid and let the cheela steam through on a medium-high flame. You'll notice some condensation forming on the inside of the lid you used to cover your pan. In approximately 1 minute, or when the condensation starts to drip down the sides of the pan, it's time to move onto the next step.
- Uncover the pan and loosen the edges of the cheela with a spatula. With the help of your spatula, flip over the pancake and gently press it down. You can optionally add a few more drops of oil to the bottom of the pan if desired at this step.
- Cover the pan with a lid for about 1 minute.
- Uncover the pan. If you like your cheela soft, you can remove it from the pan and serve immediately, or if you like your cheela crispy, you can flip it over one more time, turn the flame to medium-low, and let that side crisp up just a bit more.
- The cheela is ready to enjoy but you can do one more step for an extra-cute presentation: with a round cookie cutter, small sharp-edged bowl, or the mouth of a wide glass tumbler, you can make small circles out of your cheela and have a stack of mini cheelas instead of one big one! Enjoy!