Today’s vegan chickpea flour pancakes make a delicious savory plant-based breakfast loaded with protein and veggies. This recipe is perfect for when you’re in the mood for a vegan breakfast that’s also healthy. These chickpea pancakes are gluten free, egg free, soy free, and dairy free, plus they’re ready in 15 minutes or less!
Chickpea flour pancakes (a.k.a. garbanzo flour pancakes) became very popular in vegan blogosphere a few years ago. They make a great plant-based alternative to egg-based omelets, but with much less fat and none of the cholesterol. If you’re looking for a high-protein, low-fat, gluten-free vegan breakfast, you’ve found the perfect recipe!
These savory vegan pancakes were originally inspired by pudla (or poodla) – savory North Indian pancakes or crêpes made with split chickpea-based gram (a.k.a. besan) flour.
Traditional pudla recipe usually includes a few simple veggie add-ons like green chilies, cilantro, and ginger. That allows them to come out fairly thin.
However, some recipes for these savory vegan pancakes yield thicker pudla thanks to additional vegetables and thicker batter. The recipe I’m sharing today is one of those.
I’ve been making these savory vegan pancakes for years now, ever since I saw a recipe for vegan pudla on Kittee Berns’ Cake Maker to the Stars blog (now defunct). Kittee’s recipe opened my eyes to the possibilities of cooking with chickpea flour – and I’ve been a fan ever since!
Before we proceed, let me tell you about chickpea flour and its varieties and uses.
(Want to go straight to the ingredients? Click here.)
Chickpea flour 101
If you start doing any kind of research on chickpeas and chickpea flour, you’ll quickly see that there’s more than just one type out there. Here in the Western world we mostly know and use the regular white (or light-yellow) variety.
Chickpeas are true stars of plant-based nutrition: one cup of cooked white chickpeas has 14.5 grams of protein, 12.5 grams of fiber, 45 grams of carbohydrates, only 7.9 grams of sugar, and 4.2g of fat. They are good sources of folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc (source).
Each type of chickpeas yields its own kind of flour. Some types of chickpea flour work in some recipes, but can totally ruin others. That’s why it’s important to know the difference.
Types of chickpeas (and chickpea flours)
WHITE CHICKPEAS (a.k.a. garbanzo beans, Kabuli chana, farina di ceci) – the type most commonly used in the Western world. They are versatile and easy to cook. Today’s world of vegan food just wouldn’t be the same without these little orbs of plant-based goodness.
A few chickpea recipes from the blog:
Mushroom-Barley Soup with Chickpeas (Instant Pot or Stovetop)
The most commonly found type of chickpea is ground up to make fine, pale yellow flour usually labeled as Garbanzo Bean Flour or Chickpea Flour. It can be found in well-stocked grocery stores and online. You can even make it at home if you have a high-speed blender.
For the purpose of today’s recipe, this is the type of chickpea flour I’m using to make my savory vegan chickpea pancakes.
BROWN CHICKPEAS (a.k.a. kala chana, Bengal gram, Kala chana, Desi chickpeas) – a darker, slightly smaller chickpea type commonly used in Indian cuisine. It stays firmer during cooking compared to white chickpeas, which works better in some recipes.
This picture shows the difference in the looks (and names) of three chickpea varieties I’m talking about:
As you see, brown chickpeas have a thick brownish skin. When the unpeeled brown chickpeas are ground into flour, they produce a whole grain-type of flour that’s a bit different in color than flour made from white chickpeas.
It behaves a little different too, but works well in a few particular Indian recipes (this article does a good job explaining the difference).
CHANA DAL (a.k.a. split Bengal gram, split Desi chickpeas). When brown/Desi chickpeas are peeled and split in half, we get the small, lentil-like legumes best-known in Indian cuisine as chana dal.
Note: Chana dal looks almost exactly the same as yellow split peas but is in fact different in flavor and texture when cooked. Yellow split peas turn mushy pretty quickly during cooking, while chana dal will hold their shape well (source).
Feeling confused? You’re not the only one. Because of the similarity in their looks these two types of split legumes often get mislabeled in regular grocery stores.
If you want to make sure you’re buying chana dal and not split yellow peas, your best bet is to get them in a specialized Indian or international food market.
Chana dal flour: also known as Besan or gram flour, this is the type of chickpea flour most commonly used in Indian cuisine. It’s ground more finely than white chickpea flour, so it behaves a bit differently.
If you’re using chickpea flour to replace a part of regular flour in baked goods, you’ll need less liquid with besan/gram flour than with white chickpea flour.
BOTTOM LINE: If you want the most authentic results when cooking something with chickpea flour, you’ll need to use the correct type of flour that your recipe calls for. If you aren’t a 100% purist and don’t mind doing some tweaking (like adding a bit more or less liquid), you might get away with using various chickpea flour types interchangeably.
Ingredients in vegan chickpea flour pancakes
My savory chickpea flour pancakes are made with just a handful of ingredients. Basically all you need is chickpea flour, water, a few spices, baking soda, and a bit of lime juice or apple cider vinegar.
Chickpea flour. My preference for this recipe is regular white chickpea flour, a.k.a. garbanzo bean flour (see notes above).
It’s quite versatile, so if you buy a bag, you’ll most likely find other recipes to use it in: a binder for fritters, egg replacement in baking, main ingredient in crêpes, etc.
Spices. There’s a lot of room for experimenting with spice flavors in this recipe, but my favorite combination is ground cumin, turmeric, sweet paprika, granulated garlic, and salt and pepper.
You can use all of these or skip a few, or experiment with adding something else.
Baking soda. Baking soda provides some leavening to make these garbanzo flour pancakes fluffier.
Some recipes use baking powder instead, while others (particularly those that yield thinner pancakes) skip it altogether.
Lime juice OR apple cider vinegar. The acidity in lime juice or vinegar activates baking soda and helps expand the bubbles of air trapped in the batter. This causes the batter to rise during cooking.
Citrus juice would be more authentic, but if you don’t have any available, feel free to use apple cider vinegar instead.
Water. Using the right amount of water in this recipe can be a bit tricky. You need just enough of it to form batter that’s thicker than regular pancake batter.
If your batter is too watery, it may take too long for your pancakes to cook through. To avoid that, add 1-2 teaspoons of chickpea flour to your batter if it needs thickening.
Vegetables. These healthy add-ons infuse your savory pancakes with additional flavor and texture. In this recipe, I’m using chopped mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and sundried tomatoes (1 cup total), but you can use other veggies if you’d like.
However, be aware that not all vegetables work well in this recipe. This brings up a question:
What veggies work best in chickpea flour pancakes?
A rule of thumb is to avoid watery vegetables like fresh tomatoes: their juices can add too much moisture to the batter.
Potatoes and other vegetables that require longer cooking time should be avoided too (unless you parboil or otherwise pre-cook them first).
Here are the vegetables what will consistently work well in savory chickpea flour pancakes:
Chopped zuccchini or yellow squash
Shredded or chopped cabbage
Shredded butternut squash (don’t add too much though)
Kale, torn in small pieces (not my favorite but works OK)
How to make savory chickpea flour pancakes
(To see ingredient measurements and to print out this recipe, please see the recipe card below.)
Whisk together chickpea flour, cumin and turmeric powder, granulated garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Add water and lime juice (or apple cider vinegar). Mix until everything is incorporated. The resulting batter needs to look thicker than regular pancake batter.
If the batter looks too thick, add more water to thin it out, one tablespoon at a time. If it’s too thin, add more chickpea flour.
Preheat a large nonstick/cast iron skillet, and grease it with high-heat oil (avocado or grapeseed), or spray with cooking spray.
Chop up the vegetables while the skillet is heating.
Mix the chopped vegetables into the batter. It may look like there isn’t enough batter and too much veggies, but that’s OK. Just make sure that all veggie bits are coated with batter.
Spoon the batter onto the preheated skillet to form 1/2 inch-thick pancakes. I can fit 3 pancakes at a time onto my 12-inch skillet.
Cover the skillet with a lid, and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom looks golden brown. Flip, cover again, and cook 2 more minutes. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
What to serve with vegan chickpea flour pancakes
Savory vegan chickpea flour pancakes can taste a bit dry on their own. This is why they are often served with sauces, spreads, chutneys, or salsa.
My favorite way to serve these savory pancakes is with a generous smear of my Easy Avocado Spread. I make it by mashing ripe avocado with some chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. See the ingredient measurements in the recipe card below.
Other healthy vegan breakfast recipes from the blog:
I hope you enjoy this savory vegan chickpea flour pancakes recipe as much as my family does!
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