Monday, September 17, 2007

Chickpea Flour (Besan) Pancakes

I'm not a big fan of breakfast or breakfast food, I'd much rather start the day with leftovers or something savory. For years, I've wished that I could enjoy a hot bowl of oatmeal or porridge, but I just hate the texture and can't get into it. One of my long-time favorite quick meal stand-bys is my new favorite breakfast. Savory chickpea flour pancakes: they're low fat, full of protein, spicy--and fill me up for hours. The best part, they're quick to make and as long as you have a few basic ingredients, you can make them with whatever you've got in the kitchen.

For these pancakes, you want to use the Indian variety of chickpea flour, which is known as gram flour or besan. I've noticed that Bob's Red Mill sells chickpea flour at natural food stores, but it's not the same flour, besan is made from a different kind of chickpea than the kind Bob's uses--so get yourself to the Indian market to pick up the proper kind. You can serve the pancakes alone, but they're best with yogurt chutney (whiz up some unsweetened plain soy yogurt with a touch of salt, cilantro and lemon juice) or with my favorite lemon pickle.

Since you're heading out to the Indian market anyway, try some lemon pickle! I don't get enough opportunity to eat this spicy, pungent stuff. I've found a brand that I think is fantastic, Laxmi Brand and it's produced and distributed in the USA. They don't use any preservatives or artificial stuff, and the ingredients are so simple: lemon, corn oil, red chili powder, salt, mustard, fenugreek and asfotida (hing). We've also tried their mango chutney and a few other varieties of pickle, which I think are way superior to the other brands available.

Chickpea Flour Pancakes
Makes three large pancakes

  • 1 cup besan/gram flour (Indian chickpea flour)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 lemon, juiced (about two really good squirts of lemon juice)
  • 1 cup chopped veggies (I like 1/4 cup frozen peas, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/2 cup tomato)
    a chunk of onion to season your skillet
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the besan, salt, baking soda, and spices.
  2. Add the water and beat well. The besan tends to clump a bit, so you can sift it if you want, but I just beat the lumps out with a fork.
  3. Beat in the lemon juice with a fork.
  4. Stir in the mixed veggies (you can add some chopped cilantro and freshly grated ginger if you have it). Whatever you do, don't taste the batter. Raw chickpea flour tastes terrible!
  5. The easiest way to make these, is to season a cast iron skillet with the cut side of an onion. This is an amazing trick for savory pancakes, and helps the pancakes to pop out of the pan--even if you make these without oil. You could also use a non-stick gizmo for good results. To season, just rub the surface of the pan vigorously with the cut side of an onion, you can also add a touch of oil if you want.
  6. Ladle 1/2 cup of batter at a time into the hot seasoned skillet (cook over medium low heat) and spread the batter out so it's not too thick.
  7. Cook until the bottom is brown and there are bubbles surfacing in the center of the pancake. Flip and cook the other side. These take considerably longer to cook than regular pancakes, so you want them on a lower heat to keep them from burning. I'd say they take at least 5 minutes to cook on each side.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the batter and serve with pickle!

Here's what the batter looks like. Sorta egg-y, huh? I abhor eggs, and egg-y things, and though these come out bright yellow and egg-like, they remind me nothing of the beasts, when I'm eating them...

Money shot!


  1. wow that looks so beautiful and amazing! i will have to try that very very soon.

    ps i sent you an email (or two) about the teff. still interested?

  2. i have to get down to the indian market. those look fantastic!

  3. Those look like my kind of breakfast. I also steer clear of the regular breakfast-type foods. Thanks for the recipe!~

  4. That looks so good. Chickpea flour is an awesome thing. especially chickpea fritters with salsa. mmmmm.

  5. chickpea flour is the best. i like to make sweet banana fritters with mashed ripe banana, chickpea flour, maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt fried in canola oil. so good.

  6. That's a pretty substantial breakfast. Thanks for the explanation about the chickpea flour.

  7. I twisted this around - reduced the amount of salt, added chopped raisins, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, about 1 tsp of cane sugar, and about 2 tbsp of pumpkin puree. As you can tell, I was in the mood for something sweet. Was tempted to add some crunchy peanut butter on top since I didn't want syrup, but had 'em plain instead (though I can tell you they definitely were not 'plain' in flavor).

    They turned out great! I think they might be today's lunch too - maybe add some Jerusalem artichokes / onion / crumbled seitan for something savory.

    Ok now I'm hungry again ...

  8. I have been making this recipe for the last few years, its one of my favorites. Thank you! I'm a lemon pickle convert.

  9. I made my own besan flour and tried to make these pancakes, but they're really crumbly. I even added rice flour, which I made also.
    Do you think it's because I didn't cook the chickpeas long enough?

  10. Thanks for the recipe. Looks delicious. I wonder what's the difference between the Indian flour and Bob's Red Mill's. Perhaps one is roasted while the other is not?

    PS: The previous comment ("Viagra Online") is basically spam. I get these kinds of "comments" on my own blog from time to time. I recommend removing it.

  11. @Boshy, Indian besan is ground from a legume similar to chickpeas, but a little smaller and darker.

  12. so simple and they make perfect snack or even side flatbread!


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