From health foods like chia seeds to goji berries to acai, kale, quinoa & so forth, various ingredients continue to gain popularity. One that I never would have imagined to make the cut is chickpea flour a.k.a. gram flour a.k.a. besan. Being a staple in every Indian household, I guess I used to take it for granted & never even considered using it. Looking back, that’s probably due to the way chickpea flour is found in Indian cooking. For example, it’s often used in deep-fried snacks (pakoras & bhujias), sweets (ladoos & halwa), gravies (khadi) and steamed snacks (dhoklas). I’m sure I’m in the minority, but these dishes just don’t do it for me at all.
While most of these dishes provide little nutrition, that’s more due to the cooking style & amount of oil used during preparation. Chickpea flour, however, racks in some stellar benefits including:
- More protein than wheat-based flour: ½ cup contains 10g protein compared to 6g in white flour
- Various nutrients including manganese, iron, izinc, phosphorus , calcium, B vitamins and folate
- 5g dietary fiber per ½ cup serving
I enjoyed it a few Sundays ago for breakfast in the form of crepes. Between you and me, I intended to make pancakes but they turned out thinner than I hoped ;). Crepes, pancakes- they still tasted super!
I’ve recently started to embrace chickpea flour in savoury form as it’s used in France: Socca Flatbread. From pesto to marinara sauce, guac & hummus, socca flatbread pairs well with just about anything. Personally I love it best with hummus…chickpea overload much? Nahhh!
My recipe below incorporates nutritional yeast to add a cheesy flavor but if you aren’t vegan or sensitive to dairy (or if you just love the real deal), go ahead and replace it with cheese.
Now how about that recipe:
- 1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
- 2 heaped tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
- 1 cup water, warm or room temperature
- Salt to taste
- In a bowl, mix together the chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, onion, basil & salt.
- Add the water & whisk to combine into a smooth, lump-free batter.
- Coat a flat skillet with cooking spray (or oil) & place over medium heat. Drop a ladle full of the batter onto the skillet. Swirl skillet to evenly coat.
- Reduce heat & cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip & cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
- Repeat steps 3 & 4 with remaining batter
- i) If you aren't vegan or sensitive to dairy, you can replace nutritional yeast with cheese.
- ii) For extra protein, replace some of the water with egg whites.
Is there any food you eat now that you once turned your nose up at?