At a recent lunch to the vibrant bijou salad bar Ottolenghi in Islington, I was reminded of my love of gram flour. Gram or besan is chickpea flour. It is used widely in India, Iran and Italy. Cheap and plentiful, it is healthful and a very tolerant flour. Tolerant in that it dosn't seem to mind if you put too much liquid in it, or not enough; it just still seems to do it's thing and always comes up trumps.
I favour this flour for pakoras, where a batter mixture of gram flour, salt, tumeric, ground coriander, cumin seeds, chili powder, salt and water to a thick pancake mixture consistency. Then thinly slice whatever you want - potato, aubergine, onion, mushroom, cauliflower florets and so on, dip into the batter and deep fry. Drain and serve. Delicious with a raita.
In northern India they make a type of roti, called missi roti, which is gram flour with finely chopped green chili, tumeric, cumin, seasoning and maybe a bit of finely chopped onion, some melted ghee. Water is added to a dough and then rolled to a pancake and fried in hot ghee.
The other benefit of this flour is that it is gluten free.
Tonight I made fritters instead of the pakoras and I was carefully noting down my measurements tonight so can report the proportions as being the following, but I would recommend that you trust yourself and don't measure. Especially as I said that gram flour is very forgiving.
- 2 small courgette or 1 large grated
- 3 spring onions sliced small
- 1 large clove of garlic chopped
- small handful of chopped coriander leaves
- 50 gms gram flour
- 20 gms rice flour
- 1tsp salt
- half tsp corriander ground
- half tsp cumin seeds
- half tsp tumeric
- quarter tsp chili powder
- Sunflower oil for shallow frying
- Raita (plain yogurt, garlic, spring onion, fresh coriander, grated cucumber, seasoning).
- Add the dry ingredients together.
- Combine with the grated courgette, chopped spring onion, garlic and coriander.
- Add water until it is thick and sticking together.
- Heat the sunflower oil until hot and fry dessert spoonfuls until crispy each side.
- Drain on kitchen paper and serve with raita and salad.