My mother-in-law taught me how to make cheela when she was here this summer, and I have been meaning to make it ever since. I had been talking about making cheela soon. Then earlier this week, my husband and I randomly heard the song “Sheila Ki Jawani” and could not get it out of our heads. Of course, I began only singing “my name is cheela” and then I had to finally make the cheelas.
In case you’ve never heard the “Sheila” song I speak of, there it is for your listening pleasure. It’s catchy. Especially if you are making cheela.
Cheela is basically a lentil pancake batter with lots of delicious spices added to it. We eat them with just some cilantro and tamarind chutney on the side. They are pretty easy to make and delicious. This time around my husband suggested to add tiny cut potatoes which was amazing. I really can’t say enough good things about this recipe. Plus, my name is cheela. Rajat made the cilantro chutney from scratch by blending cilantro, mint, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, salt, and a chili pepper. We just bought the tamarind one from the store. Together, these chutneys are the perfect side for a bread.
Makes approximately 10 cheelas/Serves 3-4
- 2 cups split yellow mung dal/lentil
- several cups of water
- 2 or 3 hot chilis
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely
- 1 potato, evenly diced into very small pieces, about 1/8th inch
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp hing/asafetida
- 2 tbsp roughly ground coriander seeds
- 2 tsps salt
- 2 tbsp of besan or rice flour (I used 1 tbsp of each)
- oil for frying
- In a large bowl, place the lentils and cover with about 3 inches of water. Let the lentils soak for at least 2 hours. I put the lentils in water before leaving for work this morning and let them soak all day.
- Discard water. (Don’t drain the dal in a colander because that will be a pain. Just dump out as much water as you can. It’s okay if some water remains.) Place the soaked lentils in a food processor. Add about 1 cups of water to the lentils and process. I would suggest add the water slowly to be sure you don’t add too much. You may want more or less than this. You are trying to have the lentils ground into a rough-ish paste where the water does not separate from the lentil too much. The paste should not be chunky but it should not be smooth either. Somewhere in-between.
- Add the chilis, potato, turmeric, hing, coriander, salt, and rice flour/besan. Mix together.
- Heat a heavy bottom skillet on medium heat. Add some oil to the pan, just enough to coat the bottom. When the pan is hot, add a scoop of cheela batter. With the bottom of a spoon, spread the cheela batter out in the pan so that is a thin-ish pancake. Cook untouched for about 4 minutes. Drizzle a tiny bit of oil on top of the pancake and then flip it over. Cook for another 4 minutes. Serve hot with chutney.