palak chilla

Besan ka cheela or chilla is a regular winter breakfast because there is always some spinach in the fridge. I usually store spinach for the whole week in 2-3 forms so it is easier to assemble meals at the time of cooking. Sometimes when I don’t have much time for prep I just sort the spinach leaves and wrap them in a cloth napkin tightly to keep in the vegetable tray of the fridge, other times I take the time to rinse and steam the spinach without chopping and keep it in a glass container. Sometimes there will be some steamed and puréed spinach in another container so it gets quicker in the morning.

I make spinach chilla in two ways, one is by adding chopped spinach to the regular besan chilla batter  and other times I make the batter in spinach purée without any added water so the chilla can accommodate more spinach in it. There is a marked difference in taste and texture but both variants are equally delicious.

In the chopped spinach version of this spinach or palak chilla the surface is crisp and the interior has a nice half cooked crunch of spinach while in the spinach purée version of palak chilla the surface is crisp while the interior gets spongy and soft. The spinach purée version of palak chilla can be made thinner like a dosa if you dilute the batter a bit with added water.

Ingredients for spinach purée version of palak chilla
(for 4-5 chillas enough for two-3 breakfast servings)

1 cup spinach purée
3/4 cup besan or chickpea flour
1 tbsp rice flour (optional)
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp minced green chillies
1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds
1/2 tsp pepper powder
Salt to taste
Ghee for drizzling on the pan

Mix everything except ghee and make a batter. Adjust the consistency, thick batter will result in thick pancake like chillas and thinner batter will make thin dosa like chillas. You can add water or buttermilk if making thinner chillas.

Heat a cast iron griddle and grease with ghee. Pour a ladleful of batter and spread evenly to make a round pancake. Drizzle ghee form the sides and cook the chilla till it gets brownish on one side, flip and cook similarly on the other side, drizzling a little ghee while it cooks. Make the other chillas similarly.

Smoked chilli tomato chutney can be made quickly while the chillas cook.
Just roast 5-6 whole dry red chillies on open flame till they get puffed up but don’t catch fire. You can keep the chillies in a sieve and hold it directly over flame for a few seconds and it gets done. Now chop 2-3 large juicy tomatoes and mix with 4-5 fat garlic cloves and salt to taste and blend along with the smoked chillies. This chutney is the quickest and tastiest to go with this chilla.

ingredients For the chopped spinach version of palak chilla
(4-5 chillas enough for two breakfast servings)

3/4 cup besan or chickpea flour besan
2 tbsp rice flour (optional)
2 cups chopped spinach
2-3 tbsp chopped dill leaves (suwa bhaji)
ginger n green chillies chopped fine as per taste
black pepper powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
ghee or peanut oil 1 tsp per chilla
buttermilk 1 cup or enough to make a thick batter


Make a thick batter by mixing all the ingredients except oil/ghee.
Heat a cast iron griddle and smear ghee, pour a ladleful of the batter on the hot griddle, drizzle a little ghee from sides and let it cook on medium heat. Flip and cook on the other side with a light drizzling of ghee again. Reappear to make more chilla and serve with a quick smoked chilli tomato chutney.