There are many ways vegan recipes try to replace the eggs in egg dishes, from tofu scrambled eggs to tofu-potato frittatas, Chickpea flour is the new kid on the block and not surprisingly its bright naturally yellow color and savory taste when cooked to a crisp makes it a suitable candidate for the task.
Some vegan omelette/scrambled eggs recipes take the curried route, masking the obvious difference in taste of the real thing at the same time ramping up the flavors to bring a little something more to the palate. After trying a few doctored recipes, and I say doctored to mean trying perhaps a little too hard to bend an obviously different ingredient to suit the ethnocentric tastebuds conditioned by the original dish, and failing to be impressed, I realise that really, the best way to do something is by first following how the actual ingredient is used in its original cultural context.
So thankfully, chickpea flour omelettes or pancakes traditionally do exist in the form of Besan Chilla, a north-indian specialty. The batter may be simply spiced with turmeric, chilli powder or other spices and consists of basic vegetables – chopped onion, tomato and green chilli mixed into it. Freshly made, it is usually eaten with a condiment – ketchup or green chutney, either by itself as a snack or sandwiched between bread.
Am I glad I went the no-frills route this time because I actually enjoyed my omelette compared to when I added all sorts of other unrelated ingredients (tofu, oat flour, flaxseed, all manner of spices) in a bid to create the omelette of my dreams.
I referred to the Veg Bowl’s Besan Cheela recipe to make this but it is so simple you barely need ingredient proportions when you cook for one. Here’s what you do:
1. Mix 1/3 cup besan flour with enough water to get a slightly runny consistency. Do pour the water in a little at the time, stirring vigorously to prevent lumps. You can even prepare this the night before if you plan on having it for breakfast.
2. Add chopped onion, tomato, green peppers, green chillis, as much as you like (I also added some finely chopped ginger). Also add a pinch of chilli powder if you like a bit of heat. Don’t forget the salt.
3. Mix everything together and pour into a well-oiled, heated pan. Cover to cook, ensuring heat is well distributed and the omelette stays moist. Resist the urge to flip it too soon, the chickpea flour batter takes quite a while to cook through.
4. At the meantime, if yours is a ketchup-less household like mine, make a simple, healthier ketchup from tomato paste:
Tomato Paste Ketchup
Mix tomato paste, balsamic or apple cider vinegar, agave (or your preferred syrup) and it’s ready! Additive-free and tastes just like ketchup. Vary the amounts of vinegar and sweetener as per your taste.
5. Remember to flip the chilla and cook on the other side. When done, it should be firm (not rubbery) while the inside remains soft. I find this batter tends to like sticking to the pan but as long as the pan is oiled well and hot enough and the surface of the omelette thoroughly cooked before you flip it shouldn’t stick too much.