Sooji or semolina, as Wikipedia tells us, is
the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta, breakfast cereals, puddings, and couscous.
That description covers wide ground, taking in its span popular Indian dishes like halwa and upma – versions of pudding/breakfast cereal made of semolina.
Cooking sooji as a cheela (pancake) is a relatively unusual way of using the flour, but once you try it, you’ll definitely want to do frequent repeats.
Here is how to make sooji cheela, or savory semolina pancakes.
[for 8 cheelas]
- Sooji (semolina) – 2 cups: use fine-grained flour for this recipe
- Water – 3 cups
- Salt – to taste
- Pepper – to taste
- Tomatoes – 2
- Green chilies – 2
- Ghee – a teaspoon per cheela
Mix 2 cups of semolina with 3 cups of water. Let it stand for at least 3 hours so that the semolina absorbs the water. (With less standing time, the batter tends to stick to the pan while cooking.)
Into the semolina batter, stir in salt and pepper, two chopped tomatoes and two chopped green chilies.
Heat a flat and wide frying pan. Smear some ghee and put a big ladle-full of the semolina batter on it. Spread the batter evenly in a disk shape, leaving no holes in between. Let the cheela cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes on medium-high heat.
Monitor the heat – if you set it too high and do not move the cheela around in time, the center will cook while the rim will remain raw.
You’ll know the side facing the heat is nearly cooked when the rim begins to leave the pan. Pry it away from the pan gently when done. Flip it over.
Cook the other side for a couple of minutes. Serve sooji cheela hot off the pan.