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History Cookbook: Chilla (Hindu Cooking)

This recipe is in categories Main courses, Postwar / Modern, Snacks, Vegetarian
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  • Chilla
About this recipe
Healthiness : (521 votes)
Difficulty:  3 out of 5 difficulty
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Number of servings: 2 servings
This is a vegetarian recipe

After WW2, as foods came off ration, people began to want to try different foods and different flavours. Imports became easier and more varieties of food were available. TV cooks whetted people's appetites for something different and the 50's and 60's saw a rapid growth in Indian restaurants in London and the South East. The concept gradually spread throughout the country, to be followed by an interest in preparing Indian food at home - many inspired by the TV prgrammes and books of Madhur Jaffrey.

Chilla are a kind of pancake, made with Gram/ Besan flour. This flour is made with ground chickpeas. You cannot make them with ordinary flour.

For images of the cooking process see our Chilla Picture Gallery.

With thanks to Sheela Joshi   for her help with this podcast.

  • 8 tbsps of chickpea flour or Besan flour, as commonly known in Indian cookery
  • 3 - 4 spring onions or 1 small onion
  • ¼ of a green or red pepper
  • sunflower oil
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • ⅛ tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp Bishop’s seeds or “ajwain” seeds, as known in Indian cookery, optional
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander, optional
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped, optional
  • Tablespoon
  • Weighing scales
  • Teaspoon
  • Colander
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • Sieve
  • Bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Frying pan (non-stick)
  • Ladle
  • Fish knife
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Wash and chop the spring onions and pepper quite finely and set aside
  2. Sift the Besan flour into a bowl
  3. Add the salt, chilli powder and lemon juice
  4. Add water gradually to the flour mix and keep stirring with a wooden spoon The batter should be easily droppable consistency - not too runny please!
  5. Add the chopped vegetables and any or all of the optional ingredients
  6. Heat a non-stick frying pan, keeping it on low to medium heat
  7. Spread a small amount of sunflower oil on the pan
  8. Drop a ladleful of batter mixture in the middle of the pan and gently spread to make a circle
  9. Let it cook for 3 - 4 minutes before you gently lift it with a fish knife. (If it is sticky and you cannot turn it easily, leave it for a further minute or two)
  10. Turn it over and cook the other side for 3 - 4 minutes also. Some brown crusts should form and then you know it’s cooked
Chilla (Hindu Cooking)  - print view  Chilla (Hindu Cooking) - print view

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There is 1 comment for this recipe.
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Name: Vicky 18th April 2015
I wonder if you could let us know except these basic chilla, how can we make it even more tastier will adding cheese and butter into it would improvise the taste?
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