We Indians are extremely fond of chickpea flour. We use it to make pancakes, steamed cake, fritters, batter for fritters and curry too. Whenever one talks of Indian chickpea curry, instantly your mind drifts to the famous Gatte ki Sabzi. It’s a Rajasthani specialty where the chickpea flour dumplings are boiled and then cooked in creamy yogurt gravy. What I have for you today is my mother in law’s specialty, Besan ki Sabzi (Chickpea Cake Stir Fry). You will definitely get the earthy chickpea flavor but it’s cooked in a whole different way.
She doesn’t make the dough from chickpea flour, instead she cooks the flour with water and makes it like a roux. She then pours it in a flat container and allows it to cool down. Once it is cooled down, she cuts rough bite size squares of it and fries it crispy. It’s this crispy chickpea flour bites which appeals me more. It’s rustic, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. It would easy pull off as a snack bite with your tea or coffee.
These crunchy chickpea flour bites are then stir fried with some onion and spices to turn into a sabzi! It’s dry and doesn’t have a lot of gravy. Every time she visits us or we visit them, this is one of the dishes Arvind would always request. Whenever she prepares the dish, it looks so easy and effortless. But getting that chickpea roux correct is so tricky. You have to constantly stir the batter so it doesn’t get lumpy and that was not easy for me. I failed several times!
We can never replicate the exact taste of mom’s recipes. They have some kind of magic in their hand but I am glad to be able at least make it tasty enough.
Besan Ki Sabzi (Chickpea Cake Stir Fry)
for the chickpea roux
- 1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon asafoetida/hing
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 inch ginger (grated)
or the sabzi (stir fry)
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 1 inch ginger (finely grated)
- 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 1 to mato (finely chopped)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon aamchur (dry mango powder)
- fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
for the tampering
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 to 3 whole dry red chilies
- pinch of asafoetida/hing
- few curry leaves
- Pour all the ingredients for the chickpea roux in a nonstick saucepan and give it a whisk to mix it all together. Then, turn on the heat to medium and keep stirring the batter until it comes together as a thick paste, almost like a roux.
- Oil a flat container (like a cake pan or a brownie pan) and pour the thick chickpea paste. Spread it flat and allow it to set in room temperature.
- In about 30 minutes, it should be completely set. Cut it into bite size squares. If it looks rustic, don’t worry. They don’t need to be perfectly shaped or of the same size.
- Pour 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan and once it’s hot enough, layer the chickpea flour bites and fry them until they’re golden brown on both the sides. Once done, set these fried chickpea bites aside to be used later.
- Next, add 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and scatter the cumin seeds. Add garlic, ginger and onion. Give it a stir. Then, add salt, turmeric and allow it cook for a couple of minutes. Add the spices (cumin powder, coriander powder and chili powder) along with chopped tomato and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Drop the chickpea bites and give it a stir. Finally, add ¼ cup water, cover and let it cook for a few minutes. If you prefer a runny curry, you can add more water or yogurt at this point. Once done, switch off the heat.
- Heat oil in a small pan. Add asafetida, whole dry chili and curry leaves. Allow it to splatter for a couple of seconds and then, pour it on top the stir-fried chickpea bites.
- Serve warm!