Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good Morning, Sunshine Cheelas!

I was about my son's age when I first sat on a bicycle seat, about 4 or maybe 5 years old. 
I lived in a colony surrounded by friends, big and small. Just across from our colony, beyond the railway tracks, there was a slum area, and in it lived 'Ghani Bhai' -he had a small 'business' of renting bicycles. He had many cycles, all sizes and would charge 0.50 paise for 30 minutes. When tiddlers like me went to him, he'd sometimes help us carry the bikes across the rail road crossing
His bikes did not have training wheels, we usually had a parent or elder sibling or an older (and stronger) friend hold on to the seat and run behind, thus keeping the bike stable.
A few tumbles, bruises and scratches, crashing into the pavement and a grubby handkerchief hastily tied to a bigger and bleeding wound was how I learned to use a bike. 
One summer day, I had rented the bike as usual and a friend was helping me. I guess after a round or two of running behind my cycle, he had enough and decided I could manage well and after the first few feet, silently let go. I had no idea and peddled away talking, soon on not hearing a reply or even labored breathing, I shot a quick glance behind and wobbled in disbelief! WHAT! where..?  and my confidence collapsed like a pack of cards...the aftermath was something very natural, I crashed headlong into what was just up ahead of me, an old gentleman. He hopped  around for a few seconds before sitting down beside me and  saying everything impolite he could think of.. all I saw was stars. 
Somebody helped the poor old man up and walked him away from the scene. Many others came to my rescue, somebody picked me up, another  took charge of the bike and it's return to Ghani bhai and yet another ran all the way home to tell my parents. Of course that person was not the smartest, he ran all the way and panting  up to my parents said, " Pallu chi Aai, Pallu na cycle varun padli, tini na tya Ajobana thokla, doghe padle, te doghe radtayt..." (Pallu's Mom, Pallu fell from her bike and crashed into Grandpa, they both fell and they are both crying..) In his excitement, the boy had jumbled up some facts and my parents, with their hearts in their mouth, ran to where  the 'accident' had happened. They did not have far to go,  there I was, being carried by some 'uncle' from the colony, with a lollipop in my hand and a hanky tied to my knee,and some other resident, carrying my flip-flops, one 'aunty' caressing my hair at intervals, all reassuring me that it was okay, no problem.

How different from now, when  my son has a 12" bike, with training wheels and a helmet and all kinds of safety stuff! Thank God, I do not have to stoop and hold on to the bike seat and puff and pant  behind him in this monstrous heat. All I have to do is saunter behind him, enjoying my walk as he carefully cycles  around the community we live in.

As easy as it is for me, it does get tiring in this heat and I prefer to make a quick snack / dinner. And that is what I made just last weekend!  I have been making these 'cheelas' for sometime now. The original recipe is from American Masala and I am so used to making these now,that I eyeball the ingredients.

These cheelas/ crepes make  a great and quick breakfast and IMHO are best served right off the skillet.

Adapted from : Here

For the Cheelas /Crepes:

1 cup Besan / Gram Flour
2 Hefty pinches Ajwain / Carom Seeds ( about 1 tsp) 
1-2 Green Chilies, finely chopped ( I leave the seeds in, but if you prefer a milder flavor, de-seed and chop finely)
Salt to taste
2 heaped Tbsp finely chopped Cilantro
Water to make a batter

Mix all the ingredients listed above and make a smooth batter ( like dosa batter) and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
Heat a non- stick / cast iron skillet over medium heat. here is what I do, I spray lightly with oil and then with a tissue wipe it gently but deftly ( hot skillet, be careful and quick!)
Drop a ladleful of batter and in a quick motion, spread the batter into a circle, like a dosa / crepe.Drizzle oil along the corners. Let it cook for a minute or so until the bottom is a nice golden brown. Flip over and let the other side cook, till brown spots appear.

Serve hot, with Tomato chutney ( recipe below)

Tomato chutney:

2- 3 Tomatoes ( I use Roma), finely chopped
2 Shallots, finely chopped
2 Green chilies, finely chopped
fistful Cilantro, finely chopped
Salt to taste
2 tsp. Oil

Heat oil in a sauce pan/ kadhai.
Add the chopped shallot and saute till it is translucent.
Add the tomato, chilies,salt and cilantro. cover and cook till it is soft and mushy and mixed together.

* Notes:
This makes a great  quick meal

Best served right off the skillet

Do not omit the Ajwain / carom seeds, they not just taste good, but are essential ( for those of you who are not aware, Gram Flour / Besan causes tooting ( flatulence)! Ajwain helps control it.

This is a Gluten free and vegan  preparation

A big thank you to Nupur, who introduced me to Picmonkey a very easy photo editing software. It was really nice of her to share her knowledge, not just where recipes are concerned, but for all the little tips and tricks in other areas too. There aren't many like her!  I made the collage using that software. 

Till next time....
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  1. Cool recipe Pallavi..kinda similar to tomato omlette that we make .Love the tomato chutney adn more importantly LOVE ur blog ..you make it sooo personal with ur stories . Thanks!!!

    1. Thank you so much, Anu.
      These cheelas do not have tomato, onion that are normally added to tomato omelet and can be made like a crepe / dosa. The chutney is quick and goes well with the cheelas.

  2. Those crepes look so good and the chutney too, yeah those were the days, near to our home we also had a bycycle fellow and indeed it was 50 ps for a hour, but then I was 12 when i learned cycling in a normal cycle, sometimes mom didn't give money so i used to take it from my piggy bag , well the clay pot with one whole to put coins :-)With this post you have brought back found memories.

    1. Thank you, Finla. Yep, .50 paise and I remember that 'piggy bank', just that mine was anything that I could store money in!
      Those were the days!

  3. Wat a super tempting and inviting dish,seriously can have it anytime.

  4. simple,healthy and delicious besan cheela..

  5. Wow amazing write up,felt like some one is narrating my story to me:)) Good old days,happiness was priceless....

    Besan Dosa looks utterly delicious... Love to taste...simple indeed.....
    Njoy Cooking n Happy Blogging...

    1. Thank you , Ramya. your kind words are very motivating.

  6. i love those sunshiney cheelas and i cant wait to try that version of tomato chutney

    1. Anusha, I hope you try and like the chutney. Do let me know.

  7. My gosh- you are very welcome! Of course I want to tell the whole world when I find something I love! The collage is so much fun, isn't it?
    Your cheela looks so simple and so good.

    1. Thank you, Nupur! The collage is really great, I am going to use it to make one of S. He loves looking at his pictures and this is a good chance to let him choose the ones he likes best.

  8. I loved, loved, l-o-v-e-d reading about ur bike incident in childhood. :) Everytime I think about my childhood in India I realise how the saying 'It takes a village to raise a child' was so true to the core in my childhood. Also thanks for reminding me of the cheela's, they r one of the quickest nutritious snack/breakfast we had while growing up. Aai used to add a finely chopped tomato and call it 'tomato omlette'! We had it with good ol'ketchup but I would love to try ur tomato chutney since its so easy and sounds yum!

    - Priti

    1. Thank you, Priti! You are so right about the saying 'It takes a village to raise a child, and so true in my case :)
      I hope you try the chutney and like it. Do let me know.

  9. The story is very similar to guess all who lived in Bombay at that time. Our Parents never knew when and how we learnt to ride the bike. Someone rented and we all took turns riding it. This went on for days in summer. The concept of share and care came from such plays. The cheelas look awesome. I make with using 2-3 flours, and adding in veggies when I can. Will try with only Besan on weekend. I love such fast recipes specially during summer when weekends are busier than weekdays.
    Love Ash.

    1. Thanks Ash. yep, share and care and no crying and ratting to parents...we lived by that!

  10. This is a quick and easy snack or even a main course!! Simple to pan it out to a hungry audience..

  11. simple and delicious recipe. loved the color.... ur blog is awesome..
    happy to follow u dear:)pls visit and join my space in ur free time:)

    1. Thank you, Rekha! I am glad you enjoyed visiting AC@H.
      I will surely peep in to your space too.

  12. We used to rent bicycles too every weekend and dad would teach me, I remember crashing into so many people and bushes and dogs, they are such wonderful memories. I remember total strangers helping me up and consoling me, those were the days. Its so different for our kids now, especially out here, I kind of feel bad for them.
    Loved the cheelas and their name:), will be making these soon!!

  13. Easy recipe & looks perfect & yummy too. Loved the name 'Cheelas' :)


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