Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Besan aur Olive Oil Pooda (Chickpea Flour & Olive Oil Pancakes)


Besan (made from roasted Bengal gram or chickpeas) is a flour that is commonly used all over India to make pakoras or fried fritters, one of the most favorite and easy to make snacks found at almost every Indian street corner halwai or vendor. The flour, when mixed with spices and water becomes a batter which coats vegetables fried to make hot pakoras, a popular Indian comfort food.

Besan is certainly tastier than tempura or flour based batter used to fry chicken and is used in making boondi, laddu, papad, dhokla and many of the spicy snacks. In the Punjab, popular dishes using besan are kaddi and besan di sabzi or gutte and pooda is another quick dish which resembles a flour pancake, except it is salty and spicy and is often eaten with hot tea during the rainy Monsoon season.

Besan has some medicinal properties too since it has a high proportion of carbohydrates but no gluten and is also high in protein, magnesium (47%), phosphorus (45%) and potassium (18%) which makes it suitable for those trying to lose weight.

Besan pooda is given as a home remedy to people to help reduce their blood sugar levels. Some Indian women use besan as a facial exfoliant and to eliminate acne; it can help reduce cholesterol and lower diabetes; it is a great source of fiber and helps the digestive system. Besan contains lots of linoleic and oleic acids as well as many vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, folate, and beta-carotene and has many other medicinal benefits.

A form of besan made of garbanzo beans is also used in other cuisines in Southern Europe. It is a popular street food called farinata in Italy, fainâ in Genoa, and as socca or cade in France. It is used to make panelle, a fritter in Sicily. And in Spain, it is an ingredient for tortillitas de camarones. They make similar dishes in Greece, Cyprus, Morocco and Algeria.

This non-traditional pooda recipe borrows from the French socca by adding olive oil and cooking it in a frying pan to mimic a pizza shape. Mixed with Indian spices, the olive oil gives the pooda a soft texture and the results are surprisingly good. An example of fusion Punjabi food!!


• 1 cup besan (chickpea flour) – makes 2 8-inch round poode
• 1 medium pyaaz (onion) – peeled and chopped
• 1 cup garam pani (warm water)
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp of vegetable for coating the pan for each pooda
• Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper). If desired, add ajwain (bishop’s weed, caraway, carom seeds, or thymol seeds) for a slightly bitter taste.


1. Chop the onions and set aside.
2. Mix the chickpea flour, olive oil and water together; then add the onions and spices and beat the mixture till it becomes a paste: it should not be too thin else the pooda will not cook and will remain wet inside. Let it sit for 2 hours or overnight.
3. For each pooda, heat the vegetable oil on a high flame on a wide frying pan. Pour in n mixture so that it spreads it to the edges of the frying pan.
4. Turn the heat to low so that the pooda does not burn or turn brown. When tiny holes start to form on the surface, check to see in the bottom side is cooked. If so, use a spatula and flip the pooda over.
5. Cook the other side till the pooda is not moist, again on low heat, but do not let it cook too long or become brown.
6. Place the pooda on a plate and serve with mint chutney or ketchup.


If you are like most people, you have probably accidentally gotten water into your cell phone one time or the other and worried what to do when there was no sound or you couldn’t make any calls. There are plenty of small businesses that provide a service to restore your cellphone and their cost ranges from $60 and up.
But there is another method that you should try before going to the repair center. Using a hair dryer to blow out the moisture may only dislodge some molecules deeper into the cellphone’s circuitry. Rice is a natural desiccant because it has been dried out thoroughly before it is sold, consequently it will absorb moisture very easily. So, turn the cellphone off, place it inside the bag of rice and make sure to completely cover it with rice and seal the bag. Leave the cellphone in overnight and then check it in the morning. Chances are that the moisture will have been absorbed and the cellphone will work again!

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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India (since renamed Faisalabad) before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her late-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi vegetarian recipes for future generations.