Monday, December 15, 2008

Multi-grain cheelas

Cheelas, simply put, are North Indian pancakes (or crêpes) made with un-fermented batter, usually these are savoury, made with salt and spices and I actually haven't come across any sweet Indian recipe so far. I have eaten cheelas at home made with simple semolina batter (un-fermented) or ground mung beans, sprouted or un-sprouted, and most often, the quick fix besan cheelas (chickpea lentil flour - I'm using the word lentil, as the flour is made with the skinned black chickpeas). I loved them all. But, somehow I haven't made cheelas since a long time. Before my son, I did make them a couple of times with sprouted mung beans, which are quite easy to grind and although it was a sticky business and required a lot of oil. Somehow, I hadn't figured out the right way of doing it, I guess.
So, cheelas were somehow pushed deeper and deeper into my memory, locked some cupboards of the brain. You know what I mean? Old forgotten recipe you made so often before life changed with a child. But, now that sunny boy is growing up and things are again becoming easier - in some ways at lest - and, of course, the motivation of this this blog has surely added to the enthusiasm.
I saw these cheelas at Monika's blog and liked them so much as they also appeared so healthy too. I knew that it is not going to be a ditto copy of the recipe, but, I wanted to try making it as balanced as this one was. But, somehow I never came to doing it until recently. That too very spontaneously, only to find a couple of ingredients missing or only too little. But, I felt it was still a good idea and went ahead with making cheelas. And this is how I made them:

Another important thing about these is that I wanted to purposefully keep them gluten free and therefore did not use any ingredient with gluten, otherwise I consider using barley and oats as a wonderful addition too. I think wheat is eaten so much that we can easily do without it once in a while, especially in these savoury pancakes, the cheelas, as they are called.

Multi grain Cheela

Inspired by the recipe at Monika's World and Thoughts

1/2 cup chopped green beans
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp heaped cumin
1 heaped tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
2-3 small carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (depending on how much you eat up while grating them!)
1/4 zucchini, very finely cubed or grated
300 g multi-grain flour*
1 pinch asafoetida
1" piece ginger, grated
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

water to make a very thick pancake like batter, which should not be too runny
3-4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)- optional - I didn't have any
rapeseed oil to fry the pancakes
1/2 onion sliced horizontally and a fork stuck into it from the back (rounded side), to be used for rubbing the pan with the flat / cut side in between two rounds of baking

*Multi-grain flour**
(mix everything together)
400 g Brown rice flour
100 g fine ground whole grain cornmeal
100 g Buckwheat flour
100 g sorghum, ground in a coffee mill (DE: Hirse)
100 g gram flour (besan) - use garbanzo beans flour or chickpea flour
50 g skinned sesame seeds, ground in a coffee mill
50 g Urd lentils (skinned black gram), ground in a coffee mill
2 tbsp flax seed meal
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric

**NOTE: the amounts can be varied and the grains and lentils too, as per liking. Using coarsely ground home made sprouts, like mung bean sprouts, is a wonderful addition too.


  • heat oil in a pan and reduce heat to medium
  • add mustard seeds and cumin in hot oil to let them splutter
  • add the green beans with turmeric and cook till done, stirring in between
  • once done switch off heat, add salt to taste and mix with carrots and zucchini
  • in the meanwhile prepare the batter with the flour, remaining spices and water to make a thick batter
  • add the vegetables to it and adjust salt to taste
  • the dry ingredients should have been dissolved in water for at least half an hour
Baking the pancakes :
  • heat a clean fry pan, a crêpe pan or skillet
  • add 1 tsp rapeseed oil and spread with the cut side of halved onion
  • reduce heat to about medium high (on my ceramic cook top with 9 divisions / levels 6 1/2 works quite well)
  • add a ladle of batter over it and spread carefully moving very slowly in circles to make a pancake
  • cover with a lid with holes to allow steam to escape
  • loosen the cheela from the base carefully with a very flat and clean spatula and change sides
  • if it does not work, spread some oil on the sides around the cheela and try again, it should work
  • cook further for another minute and remove - either serve directly or store in a dish, covered, and keep warm
  • rub the base of the pan with the cut half of the onion nicely and remove any (burnt) residues sticking to it
  • pour a ladle of batter and repeat the process, as mentioned above
  • the cheela may still require some oil before turning, but after the third or fourth, it may not be required any more
We ate them with the chutneys I have talked about before and a quick fix coconut chutney. We enjoyed the cheelas a lot. Yes, hubby too! :) But, sunny boy wasn't as fond of eating them, but I'm not counting him in this time, as it also had to do with other factors like there were too many veggies in the cheela and he was tired and sleepy. But, he ate one! So, it couldn't have been that bad. I, I looooo....ved them. After a long time I had had cheelas and I think the combination of flours was wonderful.
But, the best thing I liked about them was that after the third cheela, I didn't require any more oil and they all came out so good. They were not sticky at all afterwards. But, I think the reason could have been either the proportions of the ingredients or the onion I used. I really rubbed it on the pan and could see the juice coming put a little while doing it. This is one trick I have learned in India, I don't remember from where, about keeping the pans clean and making the dosas and cheelas not to stick onto the pan.
This is how my onion looked after it had done all its work, i.e., making all the cheelas.


Soma said...

I have had besan, & mung cheelas, but this indeed is a very neat & healty idea to use so many different kind of wholegrains in it. I do not hav eall the flours at hand, but will try this out with whatever i have.
Thanks for sharing this.

Priya said...

Healthy cheelas, looks superb...thanks for sharing the ingredients in multigrain flour, need to try soon...

Madhuram said...

We call it adai in Tamil Nadu. I have not tried it using multigrain powder, but what I do is, we get the 16 beans soup mix here. So I get that, soak that overnight with redchillies and little raw rice and then grind it to prepare the adai. But your methods seems to be instant. Will keep this in mind.

PG said...

I'm happy that you all liked this idea. Even i was very impressed when I saw it at Monika's blog.
Madhuram, thanks for the info. I'm always curiuos. So, I'll call it Adai now. :)

Curry Leaf said...

Lovely PG,So these are gluten free cheelas.hmmm.Love these dear.I too sometimes use the onion trick.Thanks for the ing of multigrain flour.Healthy recipe.

kamala said...

Like madhu said we call adai..Healthy one PG

anudivya said...

Looks very ncie and healthy, I have this at least once a week. Onion at the last pic looks really roasted and yummy from smearing it on the pan... it might sound wierd, but it looks very eatable! :)

I am so happy the cookies worked for you... will be looking forward to ur post soon.

PG said...

Curry leaf, you can vary the multigrain flour to your liking. I kept the rice flour amount high, but one could surely reduce it and add mayn other millet flours or wheat etc.

Thanks Kamala!
Now that I know what it is, I need to note it in this post as well.

Anidivya, would love to see a post on this at your blog. And doesn't it look tempting! I also felt so. It should have only been a wee bit lesser brown and one could add it to the food :)

DEESHA said...

yummm .. very much like south Indian dosas

Jude said...

Looks so hearty and satisfying.