Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crispy Paneer and Lime Pickle


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crispy Paneer and Lime Pickle

My discovery of Indian food many years ago had an enormous effect on my kitchen, transforming the way I cook and the way I eat. The variety of ingredients — pulses, vegetables, spices and seeds — is without doubt nutritionally beneficial to vegetarians, but it was the array of flavors and techniques in Indian cuisine that really captured my imagination.

Among my favorite Indian foods — and something I always order on the rare occasion when eating out at an Indian restaurant — are savory flatbreads, paneer cheese, and Indian pickles. Indian cooks are wonderfully creative when it comes to flatbreads, using a variety of different flours and seasonings to come up with countless textures — light or substantial — and flavors. Paneer cheese is creamy and delectable, holds its shape when cooked or fried, and absorbs the flavors of the spices or seasonings in which it's cooked — I always keep a few blocks in the freezer for when the temptation strikes.

But it's the mustard-cured pickles that might have been the greatest revelation. Completely unlike pickles in North American or European traditions, Indian pickles brined in mustard oil with a pungent blend of mustard seeds, spices, salt and vinegar — known as "achar" — are unbelievably vibrant and bursting with sour and spicy flavor. If you've never tried them, you must the next chance you get at an Indian restaurant or when shopping at an Indian grocer where they are always available in jars — mangoes, chilies, limes and mixed are the most commonly found. But be careful not to eat too big a mouthful on your first try — they are very potent and do take a bit of getting used to for many. After a little while, you might find it an essential way to finish off an Indian meal.

Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Paneer and Lime Pickle

This recipe combines the best of all of these worlds — spicy chickpea flour pancakes are covered with cubes of paneer cheese that are fried in Indian lime pickles and garnished with chopped fresh cilantro and dill. It's a very simple dish to make, and has all the flavor that a devotee of Indian food could wish for. It makes for a great lunch or light dinner at any time of year, and you'll want to make it again and again.

Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crispy Paneer and Lime PickleChickpea Flour Pancakes with Crispy Paneer and Lime Pickle
Recipe by
Adapted from Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day
Cuisine: Indian
Published on May 19, 2020

Simple savory spiced chickpea flour pancakes served with tender pieces of fried paneer cheese and lime pickle

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

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Ingredients:
  • 1 2/3 cups chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 to 2 green or red chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 12 oz (350 g) paneer cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons lime pickle, or to taste, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, trimmed and finely chopped + more for garnish
Instructions:
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, turmeric, garam masala, asafetida if using, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the chilies. Make a well in the center and whisk in the water. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest for 20 minutes.

  • While the batter is resting, heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the paneer cubes and fry, turning often, until the cubes are golden brown, roughly 5 minutes. Stir in the pickle and season with another 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  • Stir the chopped herbs into the batter. Brush a non-stick skillet with oil and heat over medium-heat. When hot, and scoop a 1/4 to 1/3 cup portion onto the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, until small holes appear on teh surface and the sides of the pancake begin to brown. Turn and cook for another minute. Transfer to foil wrap to keep warm and repeat with the remaining batter.

  • Serve the pancakes warm scattered with some of the paneer and lime pickle, and garnish with the remaining fresh dill.

Makes 6 pancakes (3 to 4 servings)

Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crispy Paneer and Lime Pickle

Other Indian pancakes to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Chickpea Flour (Besan) Crêpes with Spinach
Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Pudla) with Crushed Peas, Ginger, Chilies and Cilantro
Savory Fenugreek and Coriander Pancakes
Sri Lankan Coconut Roti

Audio accompaniment: Palace Brothers - Riding

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