I’ve seen a few lovely gram flour (alternatively named garbanzo/ chickpea flour, or besan, amongst other things I’m sure) posts recently, including Sarah’s, and Danielle’s socca recipes, which look just beautiful. And as I’ve also been eating a lot of gram flour at home in the form of pancakes, I thought I’d share one of my favourite variations, simple but effective, and a good base for many a meal, and join the celebration of such a wonderful flour and the chickpea itself.
As a coeliac (celiac) gram flour’s great, and also for me especially as an arthritic, I need to eat a grain-free and relatively low carb diet. It helps, believe me. Light, fluffy, delicious, you cannot go wrong with a chickpea pancake (well… you could, for example, burn it, and do a lot of other bad things, but you know what I mean). It makes a pancake that’s filling, more nutritious and higher in protein than those made with other flours.
I’ve never been to India but my parents have several times over the years (and so I’m a total expert…), in my minds-eye I imagine chickpea pancakes sizzling fast in a massive pan on a street-sellers patch, expertly flipped, the scent of wonderful spiced dishes steaming all around, mingling with the pungency, sounds and atmosphere of the hot, busy street. Quick and easy to whip up and serve, cheap, filling and loaded with delicious curries, or pickles, or both.
Usually I seem to eat chickpea pancakes with spiced cashew cheese, salad and olives and that kind of thing, but recently I was inspired to experiment with Indian-style cooking. I’ve always been a huge fan of Indian food, though this year I’ve been hindered by strictly avoiding nightshade family plants, which means any peppers (including chilies and paprika), tomatoes, potatoes or aubergine. This has basically meant I haven’t been able to cook any of my favourite curries (though believe me the pay-off is worth it ♥). I was instead forced to think on my feet and be creative, no bad thing really, especially as the food I have been able to create leaves me feeling great (well, better!). I have now, for example, fully embraced finely ground black pepper as an excellent alternative to chilies, and am ready to explore the vast culinary delights of the Indian subcontinent (feeling quite confident at this moment!), absorbing influences and creating and adapting recipes to suit me, by taking advantage of the wide spectrum of delicious vegetables out there, that so often get side-lined! Bring it on!
I’ve photographed these pancakes plain and as part of a delicious curry meal of roast kuri squash daal served with fresh beetroot with lemon, home-made tamarind chutney and lemon and coconut raita (recipes to follow shortly so watch this cyber space…). You can eat them as you wish. Take out the spices, and most of the salt, or not, and have with sweet toppings, or have as a wrap with your favourite fillings. Houmous goes beautifully with the gram flour, both being made from chickpeas; my favourite is houmous and raw spinach, with or without finely grated carrot. (If using as a wrap I recommend spreading the mixture thinly in the pan). They’re also very good plain, or with a soup, like this, this or this, and excellent topped with cashew cheese such as this, or this, and pickles, or yeast extract, and grilled. The list goes on. Which is wonderful.
- 3/4 cup of gram flour (chickpea flour)
- 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour (or flour of choice)
- 1 tbsp of psyllium husk (optional, but does add nutritional benefit and fibre, and binds the mixture)
- large pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp of filtered water
- 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper (or coarse if you prefer)
- pinch of turmeric
- 1 tbsp light oil (I use mild coconut oil) per pancake
Mix the ingredients together, sieve the gram flour - I add the water slowly to the dry mix, mixing as I go, as gram flour has a tendency to clump. Leave to stand for 20 mins or more - keeps in the fridge for days. Heat your frying pan on a medium hot heat, add the oil and ladle on pancake mix, making a pancake of your desired size and thickness. Tip the pan to spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the pancake, you can also use a spoon. If you want a regular shape, you can press in the sides in with your spatula. Flip after about 2 minutes, or less, and brown the other side. Pancakes will soften when cooled.
I have added buckwheat flour to the mix, which you don't have to, but I prefer to as I like the flavour and think it improves the texture of the pancake. You can leave it out or use another flour, as you like.
You can leave out the spices to use the pancake with sweet toppings.
I’ve been listening to… Nitin Sawney Homelands
I’ve been reading… Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
I’ve been watching… FUEL The Vegan Ironman Diet of Cro-Mags’ John Joseph