Eggless Vegetable Omelet (Besan Cheela)

Besan Chilla, a Vegan Omelet

It’s easy to see why a Besan Cheela often gets called a vegetarian omelet, especially in Indian vegetarian restaurants that serve up this lipsmacking dish. This chickpea-flour pancake from north India resembles its egg-containing counterpart so closely, you might think they were separated at birth.

But the resemblance is entirely skin-deep, because they taste outrageously different and weigh far apart on the health scale. While the traditional omelet is packed with cholesterol and reeks with that awful egg smell, the Besan Cheela (also called a Chilla) is nuttily fragrant and can be made fat-free if you just spray your skillet  with one of those oil sprays instead of using real oil. And because chickpeas are packed with protein, you will definitely not miss out on your protein in this vegan omelet.

Another thing I love about the Besan Cheela is that it can be pretty much toyed around with to suit different tastes. You can change the veggies you add to it: I added mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes, but you could add zucchini, carrots, or spinach (I usually cook the spinach in one of my tiny saucepans with a little bit of water to soften it, then drain thoroughly before adding).

Or you can add herbs: coriander, sage,  parsley, basil, all add different but delicious flavors that make the Cheela just that little bit extra-special each time you make it.

Here’s one tip: to make your Besan Cheela extra-crispy, add a mashed potato to the batter. Or just add half a cup of rice flour (preferably brown rice flour to keep it healthy).

On with the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Eggless omelet, eggless vegetable omelet, vegan and gluten-free

Besan Chilla, Eggless Vegetable Omelet, Vegan and Gluten-Free Recipe

5.0 from 1 reviews
Eggless Vegetable Omelet (Besan Cheela)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Snack/Breakfast
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup besan (chickpea or garbanzo bean flour)
  • ½ small onion, minced (make sure all your veggies are uniformly and very finely cut because you don’t want the Chilla to lump up with big chunks of vegetables)
  • ¼ medium tomato, minced
  • 3 button mushrooms, miced
  • ¼ green bell pepper, minced (use other-color peppers if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped really fine
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to suit your tastes)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (optional, but great for color)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves (I didn’t add any this time because I didn’t have any on hand, but I strongly recommend adding them)
  1. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir them together. Set aside for about 15 minutes. I strongly recommend this because some of the vegetables will express water when mixed with the salt, and this will give you a better idea of how much water you need to make the batter.
  2. Add water (I usually add around 2 cups to make a batter slightly runnier than a pancake batter, but temperatures in your home and the climate could cause this amount to differ in your kitchen, so always make sure you add water slowly, mixing as you go. There is no gluten in this batter so you don’t have to worry that it will toughen up with too much stirring, the way a traditional pancake batter would)
  3. Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or non-stick skillet and spray lightly with oil.
  4. Pour about half a cup of the batter in the center with a rounded ladle and spread slightly with the bottom of the ladle to get an even-looking round, about five inches in diameter.
  5. Cook on medium heat until the sides dry up and the bottom of the Besan Cheela turns richly golden-brown.
  6. Flip over and cook until the other side turns golden-brown.
  7. Serve hot with an herby coconut chutney.


The Besan Chilla goes off to My Legume Love Affair’s 33rd edition, hosted this month by Dee of Ammalu’s Kichen and originally conceived by Susan of the Well-Seasoned Cook.


Thank you to all of you who have sent your good wishes and thoughts to Pubm whose struggle continues. Thank you also for sharing your tips and thoughts on healthy food options for cats: ideas that I and many other readers and cat-lovers will benefit from.

We are hoping to start Pubm on chemotherapy this week. She is still refusing to eat more than a teaspoon or two of food each day because the cancer has wrapped around her colon, making it difficult for her to defecate. As a result she has been losing weight rapidly. But I don’t think she’s ready to give up the fight, and we certainly aren’t going to give up on her.

Please keep those blessings coming.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Praying for Pubm … healing love coming ur way.
    Vaishali, this is a difficult time for u, so please take care of urself as well ( I say this particularly because under the given stress, u may neglect urself).
    I make cheelas too, with a variation, am planning a post on that, but may take me a while.

  2. Anonymous says

    Sending my prayers to Pubm…I was just thinking when I was making your eggless french toast …isnt there an eggless omelet and here is one :)

  3. says

    Sending my prayers to Pubm. The thought itself is so painful. I hope the chemo works and she gets her appetite back. Also sending some strength your way to help you all deal with these hard times.

    Take care.

  4. says

    Manasi, you are kind– thanks for your concern, and I am trying to make sure we eat well and get plenty of rest, although that is not usually easy. Right now we are too focused on our little girl.
    Looking forward to your chilla recipe. :)

    Mandarine, Mihl, Thanks, and Pubm sends you a cuddle :)

    Divya, thanks.

    Jain, Latha, Anon., thanks and Pubm says thanks too :)

    Priya, thanks!

    Richa, she got her first chemo dose yesterday but the chances that it will help are only 20 percent. With her parents pitching for her along with all of you, she just might make it. Thanks for keeping her in your thoughts. :)

    Jodye, Ashwin, Thanks!

    PriyaVaasu, thanks from me and Pubm!

  5. says

    Wow – I had no idea you could get this ornate with chickpea flour for breakfast. :) I loved socca, so this looks great! I can’t wait to try this. :)

  6. says

    new to your blog, VERY Cool omelet!

    the rage with chickpea flour that ive seen lately in what many are calling socca has me really wishing I had ordered a bag of chickpea flour with my last online shopping order….soon, soon enough.

  7. says

    I would try green juices for Pubm with some sort of liquid cat supplement mixed in. They’re really healing for humans, so it might be worth a shot.
    Get well Pubm! <3

  8. says

    I made these a few nights ago, following your recipe–and they were fantastic! I used a slightly different vegetable mixture (what I had on hand), but they were still great. I’ll definitely be making these again! Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  9. says

    Healing vibes to Pubm :(

    I just posted my version of a perfect traditional omelet – but must confess, the besan omelet is a weakness of mine, and mine don’t somehow come out this well – these are perfect!

    BTW, I have posted an eggless muffin recipe – but I do believe the flax you use in your muffins, makes a difference, Must try this next time

  10. Anonymous says


    I made these twice. Love them. Of course each time I added whatever veges I had handy. This time it was cabbage, scallions, tomato, green chilli.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  11. says

    Thank you SO much for posting this. I just tripped over this recipe while looking for some inspiration.

    Since becoming vegan, one of the odd things I missed was the omelet. I even have a little ceramic “non-stick” pan that was made specifically for omelets that has been very lonely.

    I’m looking forward to trying this!!

  12. says

    I love the way you have described it “Eggless Vegetable Omelet” .. made a traditional Indian dish more understandable n easy to make for outsiders. Love your simple method too. I am a chilla-fan and reading it on your page has refreshed my love for it all the more. Good job ! :)

    • says

      Hi, I tried leaving a comment on your spinach chillas, but something seems to be off. I really loved the idea of all that spinach in the pancakes and will be sure to add some spinach to the chillas the next time I make them. Thanks for your kind words about Holy Cow!

  13. says

    This is also known as Besan Puda in India. We add finely chopped cabbage to the besan batter along with spices and make thin dosas out of it. Just for your info :)

  14. says

    This is quite interesting. I have never tried this in my entire life. I do love eggs so maybe I will miss the egg flavour with this dish; however, this will certainly be a healthy choice. Thank you again for this post. I hope you keep posting recipes like this.

  15. Anonymous says

    I just happened to pick up some besan today from my local Indian market to use in a recipe from The Sexy Vegan cookbook. I was curious as to what else could be done with besan. I just came across your website about an hour ago. I am happy to report that my tummy and tastebuds are completely pleased because I wasted no time making a chilla with the veggies I had on hand. Where have chillas been all my life?!!! They will be making regular appearances from now on in this household.

  16. Anonymous says

    Please, I love the recipe except the bell pepper thing but please, do not depict an egg as something with an awful smell. Also, the cholesterol is not only present in eggs but in many other foods including “GHEE”, he he!

    I love the smell of egg and in things like a pound cake, it smells AWFULLY good! That reminds me of a Gujarati guy I had to take to Paris for work and he was a veg so he would not eat anything. In sheer frustration, I took him to a pastry shop thinking sweets may go down better but there too, he would not touch anything…because, even the icecream had eggs. Ah well!


    • says

      Pradeep, This is a vegan blog so there are no foods with cholesterol — like ghee– here. Cholesterol is entirely an animal product and it does not exist in vegetable foods. Maybe it’s time you stopped eating those eggs because they’re clogging your arteries with every bite.

  17. Melina says

    If you were in front of me, I’d kiss you!! hee heee. I’ve been looking everywhere for a recipe that reminded me of an omelette. Not just because I used to like omelettes, but I used to like their versatility and the ability to throw anything I want in there and feel satisfied. I have tried all sorts of vegan ‘replacements’ with tofu and tahini and all sorts of things, but none have worked. THIS WAS AMAZING. I’ve had it about 5 times in 3 days, not kidding. It is so so easy, it cooks well, it holds together and actually flips over, it is versatile and it tastes great! thank you thank you thank you!!!!

  18. Connie Fletcher says

    I have to agree with Melina…this is FABULOUS!!! It is truly delicious. I have seen this before, but never made it until today. I had some wild ramps and some fiddleheads that I included. The ramps were fine diced and the fiddleheads were steamed and eaten as a filling of sorts. Delicious!!! Wonderfully seasoned!! Thank you!!!

  19. says

    I love besan chilla and this recipe is very similar to what I use. Love quick snack recipes like these as they really help break the monotony of a bread-omellete breakfast and bread-jam evening snack routine.

  20. says

    Hello again, Vaishali: Went to wholefoods (here in Florida, USA) and bought Garbanzo bean flour for the Besan Chilla. They have one package that says “Garbanzo bean and fava bean flour” and I was wondering if that would also taste good with your recipe?? I also “had” to grab “Gardeins holiday roast” which looks just awesome? Maybe your husband, Desi might like it…haha! Just kidding! Anyway, the dish came out delicious (have a great love for garbanzo beans, too) I even put mashed potato inside, and made the coconut chutney. Just added spinach as a side dish, and wow! Being new to cooking these foods makes it even more exciting! Thank you again. Just have a couple of questions? How do you best store leftovers? Also, I was told that “fresh cilantro” in the USA is the same as ” fresh Coriander.” And “bay leaves” are a good substitute for “Curry leaves.” Do you agree? Happy Sunday. Angela

    • says

      Hi Angela, never heard of a garbanzo-fava flour mix– sounds like it worked in this recipe! I love the idea of mashed potato in there– more spuds never hurt a body. :) With the leftovers of the besan chila, I would just store the batter in the refrigerator and make the chila hot before serving. Already cooked chilas won’t taste so great warmed up. And yes, coriander and cilantro are one and the same. But bay leaves are definitely not an appropriate substitute for curry leaves. Curry leaves have a very distinct and strong aroma and are quite different.
      Will try the pot roast on Desi! :)

  21. Angela says

    Hi Vaishali:

    I actually didn’t buy the garbanzo fava flour because they had the garbanzo flour by itself, but I probably would have if wholefoods didn’t have it stocked. In the near future, I will attempt to make it at home one day when I have more time, and a grinder!
    I am not usually one who likes to substitute (Just think that it will always alter an already perfect dish, even if slightly) but, as you may know, there are very few Indian grocers near me, and sometimes they don’t have certain herbs, etc. that I need for a recipe.
    Glad you agree that coriander and cilantro are the same, because I can’t find coriander anywhere!
    I have yet to find curry leaves, but I will keep trying. If I have to order every herb and spice, I will; that’s how much I love Indian foods.
    I will do exactly what you advised about storing leftovers.
    I haven’t tried the Holiday “Gardein” roast, and really don’t need the meaty textures as much anymore, but it’s so nice to have for the holidays. Read that “Trader Joes” has a nice meatless roast also. I guess you know that many markets do nowadays. Hope your husband likes it, and if he doesn’t, he is free to eat whatever he wants.
    Thank you so much again for your generous recipes.
    I’ll be reading, and love your photos, too.:)


  22. mike says

    most of those spray oils are hydrogenated and terrible for your health esp. soy but i don’t want to get into that arguement. I would opt for and recommend un hydrogenated coconut oil. virgin (evco) is good. Eggs have a bad rap, also i love the smell of them, they have good cholesterol(hdl) and make bad cholesterol(ldl) into larger particles making less % change of clogging. cite: seem pretty reputable as they have also citations.
    I’d love to try this recipe though as my daughter is allergic to egg whites and it upsets her greatly that i’m unable to share morning omelettes with her. (shes 17 months and cries when im unable to share food off of my plate, lol.)

  23. Natalie Zeifman says

    I don’t like mushrooms so I made this with tomato and green pepper and it really turned out egg-like. It was great except for the fact that I was a bit too stingy with the salt. I think it would be good with something sweet added like corn.

  24. Traditional Indian Bhaji says

    Nice post. It seems like a much healthier counterpart to egg omelets and it tastes great. Thanks for posting.

  25. says

    Thank you for this and other delicious recipes…bless your lovely kitten and all the rest of us. My mother always includes mushrooms to her critters food. It help keep tumors down so I’ve been feeding my critter friends with it too. Thank you! Namaste`

  26. Fareeda says

    I made the chillas again for breakfast. I added finely chopped spinach and 1/4 cup of boiled quinoa to the batter.

    Very delicious indeed. Thanks


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