Savory Mung Dal Pancakes (Masala Cheela)


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe

The thin, soft savory bean pancakes known as "cheela" are a Gujarati delight, served with breakfast, lunch or dinner as breads for rolling and dipping in tasty chutneys or sauces. Although they can be made with besan, or chickpea flour, the genuine articles are made with soaked split mung beans, or "moong dal", which give the cheela a hearty consistency as well as a beautiful gold-green-red color when fried.

The basic ingredients and process are very much the same wherever you look, but these masala cheela adapted from Yamuna Devi's marvelous Lord Krishna's Cuisine are especially fragrant and savory with the addition of coriander and fennel seeds. I also took Yamuna Devi's suggestion to serve them with cashew chutney for dipping — it was such a perfect combination that people couldn't stop helping themselves to it, even though they're quite filling.

Although the preparation is very simple and takes very little time, the pancakes are fried one at a time in a fairly time-consuming process. Be prepared to dish them up to your family or guests as they come out of the pan and wait until you're done to eat yourself!

Savory Mung Dal Pancakes (Masala Cheela)Savory Mung Dal Pancakes (Masala Cheela)
Recipe by
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Cuisine: Indian
Published on October 9, 2007

Thin, soft and delicious savory gluten-free pancakes made with split mung beans — perfect for wrapping rice or dal dishes or chutneys

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Ingredients:
  • 1 cup split skinless mung dal
  • 1/2 cup plain whole fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 dried whole red chillies, or to taste, crushed
  • 1/2 cup melted ghee or olive oil
Instructions:
  • Rinse the dal thoroughly under cold running water, then place in a bowl and cover with water so that there are several inches of water above the dal. Soak for at least 3 hours or overnight, then drain and discard the soaking water.

  • Put the soaked dal in a food processor or blender and blend for a couple of minutes, stopping now and then to push the dal down with a spatula. Add the yogurt, coriander and fennel seeds, salt, asafetida and turmeric and blend for another minute. If necessary, add enough water to make the batter thickish, like a lightly whipped cream. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the crushed chillies.

  • Preheat a 10-inch frying pan or cast-iron pan over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan to test the temperature — if it is just right, the drops will dance and sputter before vanishing. If the drops vanish right away, turn down the temperature slightly, or if the drops just sit on the surface before boiling, turn up the temperature slightly. Brush the surface with a light film of melted ghee or olive oil.

  • Scoop 1/4 cup of the batter and place on the middle of the pan. Wait a few seconds, then place the bottom of a ladle or large spoon in the centre of the batter and spread it outwards in a continuous spiral, pressing lightly, until you have a thin round or oval pancake about 8 inches in diameter. Cook for 1 minute, then drizzle a teaspoon of the ghee or olive oil over the surface and around the edges of the pancake.

  • Cover the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until small holes appear on the top of the batter and the bottom is golden to reddish-brown. Loosen the edges with a spatula and turn the pancake over. Fry, uncovered, for another minute or so, then flip over once again, fold the pancake in half and slip it out of the pan on to a warming plate or into an oven preheated to 150° while you repeat the process. Repeat the water sprinkling to test the temperature and brush the pan with more ghee or oil before adding each 1/4 cup of batter.

  • Serve hot, or store wrapped in aluminum foil and reheated in a 350° oven.

Makes 9 to 10 eight-inch pancakes

6 comments:

niki said...

I have only been a vegetarian for three weeks now, I am excited and thrilled to have found your beautiful recipes. I will be back here often to look at what you have put up :-)
Thank you so much for sharing these recipes, you have helped me alot already. I look forward to trying out this recipe for mung bean pancakes.
regards niki

Padma said...

We call it as Andhra Pesarattu in South India. I love to have this and specially with whole moong dal its full of fiber and good source of protein... Nice to see you also like that taste... Pancakes look lovely Lisa

Chef Jules said...

niki -- you've certainly come to the right place. Lisa is a vegetarian cook extrordinaire. Lisa I think I'm requesting these for our get together. I'm having paroxysms of hunger and everything else on this end. They look so very good. In the "Lisa's Kitchen" folder this recipe goes! Thanks very much.

Lisa said...

Niki; Thanks for your kind words. I'm very happy to be of assistance. If there are any recipes you would like to see here, just let me know and I will add them to my list of things to make in future. Also, I would highly recommend Chef Jules' blog. It's one of my favorites and lots there for vegetarians!

Padma; Yes, very tasty and good for you too. This recipe turned out even better than I thought and the chutney was the perfect thing to serve with the pancakes.

Chef Jules; Always a pleasure to receive comments from you. I highly recommend you give this recipe a try as it might be a while before we get together, considering our busy schedules of late! I'll respond to your email soon! Busy, busy, busy and I'm headed up to Muskoka for the weekend too.

Sharmi said...

In Andhra it is called pesarattu! this looks like a little different version! nice info too!

Scrumptious said...

I love these so much! I'm trying to use up stuff in my pantry this week and I had a jar of mung dal I'd never used. I am so grateful to have come across your recipe - I've made a batch of this batter 3 times already since last Thursday! Having a batch ready in the fridge makes breakfast super easy.

I'm vegan, so I used soy yogurt and no ghee, and my mung beans were split but still had their skins - these changes had no discernible affect on deliciousness.

Thanks for such a fantastic recipe!