Savory Chickpea Pancakes
I’ve been seeing chickpea pancakes pop up in food magazines, blogs, and shows lately and I wanted to give them a go. Chickpeas and chickpea flour (besan) are staples all over India. The flour is used in lots of batters, especially for street food, all over the country. So I did a little reading to see if I could turn that same batter into pancakes and turns out, the people of North India have been making besan cheela or chickpea pancakes for ages!
The primary seasoning in the batter is ajwain or carom seeds. These seeds are in the same family as cumin and fennel; in fact they look very similar and have a distinct smell that’s part earthy and part sweet. They lift up the density of the chickpea batter really well in this dish. More commonly, ajwain is used in a lot of Indian lentil dishes and it has a similar effect of lifting up the dish.
They are readily available in most grocery store aisles or online. For this recipe, I highly recommend getting your hands on ajwain but if it’s not accessible, you can substitute with half cumin and half fennel seeds. Cumin and fennel are larger in size so if you are going that route, smash the seeds a little in a mortar and pestle before adding them to the batter.
Makes 3-4 pancakes
1 cup chick pea flour (besan)
2 spring onions, chopped finely
1 small tomato, chopped
1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds or cumin seeds
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cups water
1 tbsp oil
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Heat up a pan (or cast iron griddle, if you have it) on medium heat. Once hot, add a teaspoon of oil and spread it around. Ladle in a third or fourth of the batter onto the pan and lower the heat a little bit. Cook for 3-4 mins and once you see the edges cooked and curling up, flip the pancake and cook for an additional 2 mins.
Repeat from oil to batter to flip to make the other pancakes.
Serve with yogurt and pickles!