Mama’s Punjabi Recipes — Besan ka Pooda (CHICKPEA FLOUR PANCAKES)


Besan (chickpea or garbanzo) flour is used throughout India to make many dishes and is commonly used for batter to make pakoras or fritters in. In Punjab, the popular dishes using besan are kaddi (see IAN dated Jan. 18, 2013) and besan di sabzi or gutte.

This is also a quick dish and it resembles a flour pancake, except it is salty and spicy. Pooda is often eaten during the rainy Monsoon season along with some hot tea. Pooda are also called “chilla” by people from Uttar Pradesh. You can even make sweet pooda using wheat flour, but that is a different recipe.

In our home remedies, besan pooda are given to people to help reduce their sugar levels. Chickpea flour has a high proportion of carbohydrates but no gluten and is also high in protein, magnesium (47%), phosphorus (45%) and potassium (18%). Besan is used in making boondi, laddu, papad, dhokla and many of the spicy snacks that are sold in stores.


• 1 cup besan (chickpea flour) – makes four 6-inch round poode

• ½ cup dahi (plain yo gurt)

• 1 medium pyaaz (onion) – peeled and chopped

• ½ cup pani (water)

• 1 teaspoon of vegetable or olive oil for each pooda

Spices (to taste): na mak (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, yogurt 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.

3. For each pooda, heat the oil on a high flame on a tava (hotplate) or in a frying pan. Pour a small amount of mixture and spread it to make a 6-inch circle. 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.

4. Cook the other side till the pooda is not moist, but do not let it cook too long or become brown.

5. Place the pooda on a plate and serve with mint chutney or ketchup.

mamas recipe inside3Shakuntla 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 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 mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.