Baby Friendly Chilla

This tasty Indian vegan pancake uses besan (chickpea flour) and infant cereal for an iron boost. With no eggs needed, this chilla recipe for babies is perfect for plant-based families.
a plate of baby friendly chilla pancakes with a baby fork

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Do you want to expose your baby to unique flavours and appreciate other cultural foods? Enjoy this chilla recipes for babies, which has been adapted to include extra iron! Chillas are a type of savoury pancake that’s made with chickpea flour and is enjoyed in many homes across India and Pakistan! 

What is chilla and what is it made of?

Chilla (or chillas, plural) is a popular dish among desi people in India and Pakistan. To pronounce it, it’s like…CHEEEEE-LA. It’s typically made with besan, or chickpea flour but in some families millet, oats, lentils or rice flour may be used. The word chilla means pancake. One of the great things about chillas is that they’re vegan, which means it’s a great fit for plant-based households, egg free and dairy free babies.  They’re also wheat-free!

What can you add into your chilla?

Most traditional chillas call for onion, tomato, and spices. However, you can add in any veggies or spices you’d like. It’s important to keep your baby’s abilities in mind when preparing this. Some ideas for other vegetables include:

  • Chopped spinach
  • Chopped methi or fenugreek leaves
  • Finely diced bell peppers
  • Shredded carrots
  • Shredded zucchini 

How we’ve bumped up the iron

For this baby friendly version we’ve added iron fortified infant oat cereal since we know this is a reliable source of iron for babies. We estimate that each pancake offers your baby 2.11mg of iron. As dietitians and parents ourselves, we love being able to use infant cereal in unique ways such as in this recipe for chillas.

To further enhance the iron, you can serve your baby chillas alongside other vitamin C rich foods such as broccoli, oranges or mango!

Why it’s a good texture for baby

This recipe is great for a baby because the outside is mildly crispy and the inside is soft. It 100% passes the handy squish test (pun intended!). Additionally, the minced vegetables dispersed throughout the pancake ensure it’s not overly doughy. 

How to serve it to baby

You can slice the chillas into strips or slice in half and offer it to your baby. This is going to work best for babies that are 6-8 months old. Thereafter, if your baby has a pincer grasp you may want to slice the chilla into little squares so that they can pick it up with their fingers.

You can also serve chillas alongside some daal, a lentil soup. We’ve got a great baby friendly recipe for moong daal that our community has loved.

Where can I get this besan/chickpea flour?

You’re welcome to snag besan, aka chickpea flour, from amazon. Otherwise, you’ll find it at most stores in the international aisle or the “natural foods” section and it’s always available at Indian grocery stores too. 

How to adapt chillas for the rest of the family

If you’re planning to serve this to the rest of the family there’s a lot you can do to enhance the taste and jazz it up further. Here are a few ideas:
• Serve it alongside achar, which is typically a pickled vegetable or fruit such as mango – trust me, it takes it next level! You’ll tear a bite of chilla and rub some achar on it. Yum. My favorites include mango and carrot achar.
• Enjoy it with some green mint chutney!
• Add in green serrano peppers that have been finely minced into your batter.
• Add in some salt to taste, about ½ tsp.

Most Indians enjoy this recipe for breakfast, lunch or as an afternoon snack alongside a hot cup of chai.

We hope you enjoy this recipe and the adaptations we’ve made that keep your baby’s nutrition at the forefront.


Looking for More Recipes Designed with your Baby's Nutritional Needs in Mind?

We’ve carefully crafted 25 delicious recipes to meet your baby’s unique nutritional needs when starting solids. But we also set out to make sure each and every recipe is whole-family approved! That’s right – just like these chillas, you can make “baby food” that doubles up as food for everyone – it’s that tasty! 

Check out our e-book, Whole Food Recipes for Your Baby to get your hands on these life-simplifying recipes.

a plate of baby friendly chilla pancakes with a baby fork

Baby-Friendly Chillas (savoury chickpea pancakes)

Enjoy this recipe for chilla which has been adapted to include extra iron! Chillas are a type of savoury pancake that is made with chickpea flour and is enjoyed in many homes across India and Pakistan!
5 from 7 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 pancakes


  • ¾ cup besan or chickpea flour
  • ¼ cup infant oat or rice cereal *see note 1
  • 1 tsp ajawain caraway seeds *see note 2 for substitution ideas
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt optional, omit for baby
  • ¼ tsp cayenne optional, omit for baby
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp water
  • cup diced or shredded veggies eg: tomato, peppers, carrots
  • 2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp diced onion
  • ½ inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped *see note 3


  • In a medium sized bowl, mix together the chickpea flour and infant cereal. Add in all of the water and stir. Let this slurry stand for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, slice up the vegetables you would like to include in your chilla.
  • Add in the vegetables, spices, ginger, and cilantro. Stir once again to ensure everything has been incorporated nicely.
  • Heat a nonstick pan to medium heat. Spray the pan with your preferred oil. Once the pan has been heated through, pour ⅓ cup dollops and spread evenly. The layer should not be too thick so you may need to spread it out so that it is about 4”.
  • Cook for 2.5 minutes. You’ll see some bubbles forming on the top and it should be easy to flip. Once you’ve flipped it, cook for another 2 to 2.5 minutes.



  1. While using any type will work, using rice infant cereal will result in a crispier pancake. 
  2. If you don't have ajwain (caraway seeds) you can use cumin seeds instead.
  3. If you don't have fresh ginger you can use 1/2 tsp dried ginger. 

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jess and nita, registered dietitians
Meet Jess and Nita

Hi! We’re both Dietitians & boy mamas! We’re here to help you confidently raise kids who will grow up to be lifelong Happy Healthy Eaters. Dig into our site for kid-tested recipes & feeding tips. 

6 thoughts on “Baby Friendly Chilla”

  1. Hi! I would love to make this recipe for my toddler but we no longer use baby cereal. is there something else that we can substitute?
    We love trying so many of your wonderful recipes ❤️.

    1. Jessica Penner & Nita Sharda, Registered Dietitians

      You could use rice flour instead. So glad to hear you enjoy our recipes!!

    1. Jessica Penner & Nita Sharda, Registered Dietitians

      We haven’t tried that ourselves, but now we’re planning to test that out!

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