A chilla is a popular Indian snack that’s full of flavor and texture. When the batter is loaded with shredded vegetables, the result is thick and pancake-like. I prefer a thin chilla that’s filled like a crepe. Actually, depending on how you fold a chilla (also spelled cheela), you may have something that looks like a taco or an enchilada.
One of the most popular chilla fillings is a mixture of paneer, tomato, and onion. Some modern Indian cooks substitute tofu as a type of "soybean paneer." That approach works really well if you grate super-firm tofu into thick shreds. As the tofu warms up during cooking, it softens to reveal its natural richness, becoming practically indistinguishable from paneer.
Chilla batter is usually made of garbanzo bean flour (besan), available at South Asian, Middle Eastern, and health food markets, or soaked and ground mung beans. I like the ease of using flour and lighten it with rice flour (Asian and non-Asian brands work), which also helps crisp the crepes. Chillas are terrific as snacks but can also be part of a breakfast, lunch, or brunch.
Click here to see 5 Unusual Ways to Use Tofu.