Besan Pancakes make a perfect savory breakfast, snack, and travel food. Essentially, you make a batter of besan and water, and add whatever other ingredients you fancy. Then fry them up in a well-oiled pan (or use an eco-nonstick pan), browning on each side, and serve with catsup or mint chutney. So tasty! They keep in the fridge or freezer just fine. I’ve even been known to pop one in the toaster for a satisfying snack.
What’s besan? Pronounced “BAYsun,” it is the fine flour of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas or channa) available in Indian markets. Garbanzo flour is also available in mideastern markets and natural foods stores, although you must be certain that it is flour and not the coarser meal. When cooked, it loses its beany flavor and takes on a mild nuttiness that goes well with savory or sweet. Besan is used for thickening sauces and curries, for spicy pancakes and pakoras, and for a number of Indian sweets. You can also use besan for a luscious gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free batter that’s perfect for tempura, onion rings, pakoras, fritters, chile rellenos, and French toast. Try experimenting with different batter thicknesses.
For these pancakes, because I like to add lots of other ingredients (like onions, chilies, ginger, chopped veggies, cilantro, spinach….) the batter is usually a little on the thick side. But you can make it a more like a thin pancake batter (I have experimented by blending up onions, garlic, ginger, mint, and cilantro with water, mixing that with besan and spices, and frying like thin pancakes for very tasty results) and go for something similar to a crepe.
Even though these pancakes or fritters are fried (use an oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed, coconut, or peanut oil) my belly feels happy, not stressed. Maybe that’s because of all the other good things in there. I keep a light coating of oil on the pan; these don’t need to deep fry. As they are done, place them on absorbent paper (brown grocery bags or paper towels) to drain off any extra oil.
These power-packed pancakes keep unrefrigerated for a good day. Taking a road trip? They make perfect satisfying protein-veggie snacks that are easy to eat in the car or on the plane, with minimal mess. To freeze, let them cool completely, and then place a layer of waxed or parchment paper on top of each pancake as you put in short stacks. Then wrap in a couple layers of foil and put in a freezer bag. I will make up a batch of 4-5″ pancakes and freeze this way. Then, when in the mood I can just pop one in the toaster to reheat. Pretty darn tasty!
Jalapeno & Veggie Besan Pancakes
Yield: 6-8 pancakes
2 cups besan (garbanzo/channa flour)
1 cup water
1-1/2 tablespoons ground coriander (fresh ground is best)
1 teaspoon ajwain
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped finely
1 teaspoon salt
1 onion, finely diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red chiles (optional)
3 cups chopped spinach or grated/finely chopped veggies
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Coconut oil (or other oil with high smoke point)
Mix besan with enough water to make a batter of pancake consistency. (As the batter sits, it will thicken slightly. Add water in very small amounts to maintain consistency.) Add remaining ingredients, except oil, and mix well. Heat a thin layer of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high flame. A drop of batter should immediately sizzle. Pour in enough batter to make a 5 or 6-inch pancake, spreading it evenly in a circle with the bottom of a spoon. (They should be about ⅛-¼ inch thick.) Fry as you would pancakes, browning on both sides and draining on absorbent paper. Test the first one for “doneness” and if nicely browned but not thoroughly cooked in center, lower heat a touch or spread batter out a little thinner for the next one. Enjoy!