Besan Cheela (Chickpea Pancakes)

Spiced with cumin and fresh turmeric, these crisp-edged Indian pancakes are perfect for savory breakfast lovers.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    30 minutes


By Romy Gill

Published on April 24, 2024

A popular breakfast in Gujarat, besan cheela are savory chickpea-flour pancakes. This rendition from Indian-born British chef Romy Gill is spiced with cumin in two ways (ground and in seed form), enriched with coconut milk, and tinted an inviting golden hue by fresh turmeric. When making this besan cheela recipe, Gill recommends using a reliably nonstick pan or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Gill prefers her cheela on the thicker side, but if you like yours thinner, add a little more water to the batter, one tablespoon at a time, to make it runnier. If you can’t find Indian green chiles, serrano or Thai chiles are an appropriate substitute.  


  • 1¼ cups (150 g) fine chickpea flour (gram flour)
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 small Indian green chile, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • One 1½-in. piece fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated
  • ⅓ cup coconut milk
  • Vegetable oil
  • Chutney and pickles, for serving


Step 1

Into a large bowl, sift the flour. Stir in the cilantro, chile flakes, ground cumin, cumin seeds, salt, green chile (if desired), onion, and turmeric. Stir in the coconut milk until well combined, then slowly stir in about ⅓ cup of water, stopping before the batter becomes runny (it should still be somewhat sticky). Set aside to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Step 2

To a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of oil. When the oil is hot, swirl the skillet to evenly coat, then, using a ladle, pour in about ¼ cup of the batter and spread it into a thin, even layer. Lightly drizzle more oil on top of the pancake and cook, flipping once, until golden brown, 4–6 minutes total. Transfer to a platter, then repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the skillet as needed. Serve warm with chutney and pickles. 

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