Besan (Chickpea) Pancakes With Carmelized Onions, Bacon and Gruyere Cheese


Here’s a delicious substitute for eggs that we use when we’re all out. Besan flour is gluten-free and high in vegetable protein which makes for a great breakfast or any meal of the day. They’re as quick and simple as making eggs and just as delicious.

Besan is also known as gram, chickpea, or garbanzo flour. It’s a staple food for many people around the world. I usually use it for stabilizing yogurt in meat marinades for curries. It only calls for a couple of tablespoons at a time so I always have a large container of it in my pantry.

There’s a great ‘Seafood Pancake’ recipe by Mark Bittman that I like which was inspired by tortillitas that he had in Spain. I’ve tried thin socca wedges at outdoor markets in Eze and Nice in Southern France that were cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper, but I would suggest taking it up a notch and filling them with goods like warm Brie cheese, sauteed wild mushrooms and baby greens. Another version we’ve tried is served in most Indian restaurants as a crisp and aromatic side dish called papadums.

I’ve adapted my recipe from Bittman’s, Tortillitas with Shrimps, but I’m using onions, bacon and Gruyere cheese for this particular recipe and you can make them with whatever you like too. I started it off on the stove top with an oven-proof skillet, then finished it under the broiler.

Serves 4 small or 2 large portions as a main meal (served with side salads)
Approx. 20 mins. prep and cook time


1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/3 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 cup besan/chickpea flour*
1/2 cup regular/gluten-free flour mix
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (approx) filtered/spring water
2 Tbsps fresh chives, minced (optional)
2-4 spoonfuls of creme fraiche/sour cream/greek yogurt (optional)
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the broiler to low with the rack positioned a few inches below it. You can also try Bittman’s method in the link above with the video instead. He shows you how to safely turn the pancake using a non-stick skillet and a plate.

Heat a 10-12″ non-stick, oven-proof skillet on med-high. Cook bacon until fat is rendered. Drain excess fat then add olive oil, butter and onions and sauté on med-low until caramelized~about 10 mins.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and one tablespoon of chives. Pour water slowly into flour while gently whisking. Use more or less water but try for a consistency that’s similar to pancake batter.*

Once onions are done, pour the batter over the mixture in the skillet. Do not move the batter and let settle. Pepper to taste and top off with cheese. Continue to cook on medium-high for about 3-5 mins. until nicely browned on bottom then place under broiler for a few more minutes. Check on it to avoid burning the top. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 mins, sprinkle with the remaining chives and a dollop of creme fraiche, then serve. Enjoy!

*Experiment with different flour mixes. I’ve made them without adding regular flour and the results were heavier. Sometimes I sprinkle it with extra virgin olive oil before serving too. Adapt it to your preferences; this dish is very versatile.

You may also like this post on wholesome buttermilk biscuits.

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