Saturday, 9 May 2015

Besan ka Chilla or Vegetarian Omlette

Besan chilla or tomato omlette is a very easy snack recipe. In 10 minutes flat you can prepare this dish.

Besan is not very frequently used in Bengali cuisines. Its only used for pakoras or any other fried snacks in Bengal. But besan finds wide usage in North and Western cuisines. Many main course items are also made of Besan in this part of the country.

I came to know about the existence of such a dish only when I came to Bombay the erstwhile Mumbai 9 years ago. On the very first day at office I saw a "Tomato Omlette" listed on the Menu in our canteen. Being a hardcore non-vegetarian, for me Omlette always meant something to do with eggs. So I happily ordered for the "Tomato Omlette". I was pretty puzzled when instead of a lucious egg omlette I was served two yellow pancakes with chopped tomato and a slight hint of chopped onion. My Maharashtrian colleagues laughed at my expression and explained that this is what is known as a vegetarian omlette in this part of the country. With an awkward embarrassed smile I finished the tomato omlette. Though it didn't taste like an egg omlette but it tasted really good. I began liking this new kind of omlette from that day.

But soon I realised I was not the only one caught off guard because of this confusing name. Once I was travelling to Pune via the expressway from Mumbai and we had stopped at a roadside food mall on the highway. I had ordered the usual Vada pav and I heard one of my co-passengers order"tomato omlette" . When I went to the counter to collect the food I heard a heated argument taking place between that co-passenger and the server. He was literally screaming at the top of his voice - " You name it omlete and serve me this besan thing?? Either you give me an egg omlette or change the name of the dish. I demand a refund. blah blah..." The sight was pretty amusing as I could very well related to the persons exact sentiments, reminded me of my first day at the office canteen.

Its kind of a comedy of errors whenever some non-Maharashtrian has their first encounter with this dish. Later on I came to know it was also known as Besan ka Chilla in the Northern states of India.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes  

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1

Cuisine: Bengali

  • Besan or Gram Four - 1 cup
  • Hing or Asefotida - a pinch
  • Totamto - 1/4th cup chopped
  • Onion - 1/4th cup chopped
  • Green Chilli - 1 chopped
  • Carrot - grated 2 tsp
  • Curd - 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - a pinch
  • Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar as per taste
  • Salt as per taste
  • Refined Oil for frying
  • Water

1. Take a mixing bowl and add besan, salt, sugar, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, hing and mix well.

2. Chop all the vegetables and grate the ginger. You can add all kinds of vegetables you like. You can also add grated paneer for extra protein. Mix everything in the mixing bowl with the besan mixture. Make sure all the vegetables are coated properly.

3. Add the Curd and some water to make a uniform batter. It should not be too runny or too thick. Consistency should be so that you can easily spread them.

4. Take a non stick skillet and let it heat for 2-3 minutes on high flame. Reduce the flame to medium. Once the skillet is heated properly add 2 tsp of oil and spread it. Once the oil is hot enough take a ladle full of the batter and evenly spread on the skillet to make small pancakes. Let each side cook for 2-3 minutes on high flame taking care not to burn the omlette.

5. Put 1/2 tsp oil around the edge of the omlette and flip it over. Make sure both sides are golden brown before removing them from the skillet.

Garnish with corriander leaves and enjoy with tomato sauce or your choice of chutney. 

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