Besan ka puda: savoury pancakes
Besan ka puda (or besan ka chila) is a savoury pancake popular in Punjab, North India. It is a type of dosa (pancake) and is pure comfort food. It can be prepared in many ways, the below are only guidelines, so feel free to improvise, add or remove ingredients and spices - it's hard to go wrong with the pudas!
- 100 g chickpea flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda (optional)
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 courgette
- 1 carrot
- 3 sticks spring onions chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder or fresh
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder or fresh
- 1/2 tsp chili powder or fresh
- 1/2 tsp grounded coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- water as much as you need to make it a thick but liquid dough
- 1 tbsp olive oil to cook
Mix all ingredients well until there are no lumps.
Set a non-stick pan to medium-low heat. Drizzle some oil.
Once the pan is hot enough (you can test by adding a drop of dough and watching if it cooks immediately), add a generous scoop of the puda dough. Then quickly spread the dough by lifting and tilting the pan in a circular movement.
Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes or until the edges are cooked. Flip and cook on the other side. Add the rest of the dough and repeat the process.
Serve with extra chopped cilantro, a blop of yoghurt or any preferred sauce.
(Nutritional values at the bottom)
The initial inspiration for this recipe came from the Happy Pear video recipes on their site. Jasmine Hemsley (of whom I learnt right then) was showing the twins how to prepare what she called “pizza puda”, which essentially is a besan ka puda used as a base of a pizza.
What is besan ka puda?
Also known besan ka chilla, it is a North India savoury pancake typical from Punjab which can be enjoyed at any meal of the day: breakfast, lunch or dinner. Besan is “chickpea” and puda refers to what we would call “pancake”.
The first recipe I found, which used it quite creatively as a pizza base, is the first one that I tried. I cooked the base on a pan and then added some pesto, cheese, tomatoes and even some bacon! We baked it in the oven for a few minutes and really enjoyed the result. However, there were so many flavours going on that I couldn’t really taste the actual puda.
After much research, I found that the most popular besan ka puda is normally made with a mix of gram (chickpea) flour, water, spices and chopped spring onions. I decided to go with the initial recipe which also included grated courgette and carrots, because it gives a nice moisture and sweetness to the puda.
This recipe is super easy and quick to make, you don’t even need to be a good cook to make them, and they are great alone, with some magical herby sauce or with grated cheese and greens on top. You can make them really thick and dense, or really thin; this depends on how little or how much water you mix the flour with. I made an in between, and actually gave them the typical breakfast pancake thickness and shape, just because!
What can I eat the pancakes with?
I made a big batch and saved a few for lunch and dinner during for next days. I reheated them on a pan for 2 minutes and used them as a base for my beetroot burger or toasted and sliced to go with leek soup. You could also make a larger pancake and use it as a pizza base. Prec-cook it on the pan on both sides, add pizza toppings and then bake for 5 minutes on grill mode. These are not the original ways of eating besan ka puda but they are delicious too, so why not?
I hope you enjoy them! Any feedback or questions are welcome!