Wednesday, October 25, 2006

more fun with chickpea flour, aka besan

indian snacks made with chickpea flour are plentiful and come in a vast variety, from savoury to sweet.

besan, or indian chickpea flour, is made from the desi variety of chickpea. this chickpea is smaller than the mediterranean one and is an essential staple ingredient in all its forms in indian cookery.

both of the two varieties of chickpea are grown here in canada. has information about [and photos of] both these types, as well as the other types of pulses grown here. if you click on the health & nutrition tab, you will find a large variety of recipes for a myriad of dishes using these beans. there is also nutritional information about the benefits of eating beans and legumes.

two snacks i sometimes make which use this flour are called chakli & masala sev.

to make these, both need to be fried in oil. this is something i do only a few times a year and consider it more shallow-frying since it is done in just enough oil to fry them in a shallow pan such as a cast iron fry pan. a shallow pan also gives you a much wider surface and therefore more space. i open all the windows and turn on the fans and exhaust system on my kitchen range to eliminate as much of the smell of the oil as quickly as possible. invariably, i always end up smelling like i was deep fried. no big deal, just change your clothes and take a shower. in the end, you end up with great snacks to be eaten over the course of time when you feel the need for a spicy snack.


there are various ways to make these crunchy snacks using different kinds of flours. i chose to make them with besan and used a recipe from yamuna devi's most well researched and detailed œuvre, called lord krishna's cuisine: the art of indian vegetarian cooking. these are also fortified with sesame seeds and coconut. this recipes will yield 24, more or less, if the chakli are "properly" extruded to the right size.


145 g or 1 1/2 c. besan flour
80 g or 1/2 c. coarsely ground rice flour
45 ml or 3 tbsp shredded coconut, fresh or dried
40 g or 1/4 c. sesame seeds
0.5 ml or 1/8 tsp asafetida
6 ml or 1 1/4 tsp chilli powder
6 ml or 1 1/4 tsp salt
0.5 ml or 1/8 tsp baking soda
15 ml or 1 tbsp ghee or oil
180 ml or 3/4 c. water [more or less]

oil for frying


briefly cook besan in a pan until it starts to change colour, about a shade or two darker and it loses its raw taste. let cool.

coarsely grind your rice to make a flour which is both gritty and powdery at the same time. do not overgrind or undergrind. do this in a coffee/spice grinder using basmati rice.

measure and add all spices to bowl.

add liquid and mix to make a soft paste.

load this into a chakli press or you can use a pastry tube with a large star tip or a cookie gun.

on a very lightly rice flour sprinkled piece of parchment [to avoid sticking], pipe out streams of dough tightly winding around several times to about 2 1/2 - 3 inches. start from the middle and work your way around slowly. it takes a little practice but is not hard to do. if you do not want to do this, you may also just directly extrude streams of dough into the oil.

while you are forming your chakli, heat your oil for frying. oil temperature should be 335 F or 170C. using peanut oil is best, however with all this allergy to peanuts being so prevalent, use only if you know people who will eat these will not be in any danger.

using a spatula, carefully lift the chakli and put them in the oil and fry til browned on each side about 3 minutes per side. if you fry too long, they will be extremely hard. not long enough and they will be soft and uncooked. test one or two to determine the outcome first, is all i can suggest.

drain the chakli on paper towel. let cool and store for future snack attacks.
masala sev

taken from the same book by yamuna devi, these are very crunchy fried spaghetti type strands of spicy chickpea flour. you break them up and eat as a snack or mix it in with other things to make other kinds of snacks. there are whole shops in india which specialize in these snacks. sev can be made in different thicknesses also depending on what you plan to do with it. note again that if these are over fried, they will be extremely hard. this recipe makes a lot. you can halve the ingredients.


2 1/4 c. besan flour
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp ajwain seeds, slightly crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 c. water

oil for frying


the method for making sev is much the same as chakli but this time the dough is extruded directly into the oil in a spiraling motion.

measure ingredients into a bowl.

add liquid and make the sev paste.

heat the oil and add the paste to the sev maker or cookie gun. oil temperature should be 345 F or 175 C.

with a spiraling motion, extrude the dough into the oil and cook several minutes until several shades darker on both sides. remove and drain on paper towels. you may make thinner sev noodles. they will cook faster however.

break up into pieces and store.
check out naughty curry, if you love indian food. an interesting site.


Rooma said...

You are a better cook than any indian I must say..... simply amazing..... they look just too perfect for a canadian male..... hahahaha

burekaboy — said...

well, i don't know about that! but i love to cook indian food. so much variety and interesting combinations.

still can't get dosa right, so no perfection there! they are so hard to cook!!

however i believe if u do are to do something, u might as well TRY do it perfectly, right? no guarantees on outcome but at least you tried ur best.

thanks for the behumbling comment.

The TriniGourmet said...

My fave indo-trini chickpea flour item is pholourhie :)

those noodles look like something we have a thinner shorter version of that is served mixed up with fried channa, peanuts and raisins :D

burekaboy — said...

sarina - hey there :P never tried pholourie before. have heard of it though. did you ever make it or is that in the plans now?

the sev noodles are thicker here because of the disk i chose to extrude them with. i have several disks i can use for making them. i like the thinner ones a lot also. but yes, it is called chivda (in hindi, i guess) the snack you're talking about. that is only one variation though.

The TriniGourmet said...

what is only one variation of what?
i will look up the chivda no one here seems to have a name for it ... it's always packaged and sold as "(random noun" mix"

i have not made pholourie yet, it is in the mix :) total trini street food :) they even sell mixes for it but i'll make it from scratch :D

burekaboy — said...

one variation of the chivda, i meant. there are many different kinds. it is also called chidwa (i think) and pronounced "churah". anyway, look here to get an idea of what i mean. it's only one kind. also the name may have been lost over the centuries/years. fried channa dal is often in it.