I used to love grocery shopping, but now I approach buying food with serious trepidation. Relentlessly climbing supermarket prices cause a mix of anger and anxiety within me, as I have never experienced such severe inflation in my lifetime. What we are experiencing in the United States is not new in other countries embroiled in war, or ruled by tyrants. Lebanon for example knows this problem all too well. With a collapsing economy, a wage of $2000 has become worth only $86, with people unable to afford basic foodstuffs.
Venezuela has also reached a breaking point in its own food crisis, as their leader Hugo Chavez printed massive amounts of money causing hyperinflation. Because of this, Venezuelans can only afford 20% of the food they could afford back in 2012. History has shown that the economic situation of a country can change quite rapidly.
As you see in my videos, I try to remain upbeat and optimistic, but I have to keep it real at the same time. I look at the actions of my ancestors–their vegan and vegetarian dishes were born from one crisis after the other. Their resilience, resourcefulness, and creativity led to economical yet delicious dishes like hummus, falafel, and mujaddara. I can’t imagine my life without these specialties, so there is a silver lining to difficult times.
While I view eggs as a perfectly nutritious food full of bioavailable protein, choline, B vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids, they are in peril. In my local supermarkets, the egg shelves are either barren, or the eggs they do sell are twice the price of last year. I remedy this by buying eggs from local farms, but I also like to have a plan B. For instance, what kind of savory breakfast similar to eggs can I make that is full of satiating and protein and tastes great?
In comes the Indian specialty called Besan Chilla. Besan Chilla are Indian pancakes made with chickpea flour, vegetables, herbs and spices. They can be served alone, with yogurt, or with a variety of delicious Indian chutneys. These pancakes are fun to eat, filling, and economical. Chef Teena from http://CurrySutra.com taught me how to make them on NBC last week, and I am hooked. The Indian spices give the pancakes that earthy savory flavor, and the fiber rich herbs and vegetables are a great way to start the day.
I have used chickpea flour in my cooking, because it is high in protein, gluten free, and low glycemic. The flavor profile when used in pancakes is reminiscent of falafel. Chef Teena told me they value chickpea flour in India as a way to reduce inflammation, and the flavor is very similar to an omelet when combined with the other ingredients.
This recipe is super easy to create, and easy on the wallet, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. You can serve the pancakes with yogurt, ketchup, or Indian chutneys. Chef Teena recommended buying the chutneys online or from an Indian supermarket if you have one in your neighborhood. To see my segment with Chef Teena, click on the video below:
Ingredients for Besan Chilla
- 1 cup Chickpea Flour
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp Carom Seeds/ Ajwain
- ¼ tsp red chili flakes (optional)
- ½ tsp Salt or to taste
- 1 garlic clove, minced (or ½ tsp garlic powder)
- 1 long green chili, minced (optional)
- ¼ cup red onion
- ¼ cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- ½ cup water or as required
- Cooking oil / spray as required
- To the flour (Besan), add all spices and veggies. Add water gradually and make a smooth batter. Heat a non-stick pan on medium-high heat and add a little oil. Now, add a ladleful of batter and spread like a pancake. After about 2 minutes, spray it with oil before flipping and cook on the other side. Serve hot with chutney, plain yogurt, or ketchup.