Chickpea flour, also called gram flour, or besan, or garbanzo flour, is a wonderful product. It is gluten free, high in protein, iron and vitamins, and perfect for vegetarians. I payed $3.50 for a kg bag in the Indian store, and 1 kg goes a long way. My main reason for buying it was to make fritters, like onion bhaji
while the only Italian dish based on chickpea flour I am familiar with is Farinata, a kind of savoury pancake, so my repertoire was a little limited. Then the other day I was making some spicy marinated tofu, and I always have leftover marinade when I do this, so I thought of 'scooping it up' with a few veggies and the chickpea flour as a binder.
Broccolini flower fritters
My spicy marinade for tofu is based on plain yogurt to which I add a little squeeze of garlic, some freshly grated ginger, a little lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander... well, whatever takes my fancy really. I marinate the tofu in the yogurt mixture and then I fry it or grill it or even bake it. I kept the leftover spicy yogurt in its bowl and added a chopped red onion and, not having much more in the veggie garden, I picked up the broccolini that had gone into flower. I chopped them, and then added enough chickpea flour to get a paste that I could spoon into a frying pan with hot oil. Well, that went down a treat, I guess that you can fry any leftover veggie that way.
Carrot leaf fritters
I also wanted to make something Vegan, since chickpea flour can be mixed with just water and it will still bind like eggs do. For my Vegan fritters I used another overlooked thing from my garden: carrot leaves. I always end up planting carrots to close, and fail to thin them when I should (I just don't have the heart to do it...) so I had to pick up a few little ones to let their sisters grow in peace. Baby carrots are great anyway, but what a waste throwing out all those pretty leaves! Then I read on the blog Galline 2nd Life (a blog that I enjoy a lot!) a recipe for a frittata with carrot leaves. I washed and roughly chopped the carrot leaves, made a batter with chickpea flour, water, salt and pepper, added a chopped red onion, and fried my fritters. In the end I topped them with some smoked paprika and a few sesame seeds. Good hot or cold.
Natural face mask and exfoliant
The last thing that I discovered about chickpea flour is that it can be used as a face mask and an exfoliant. The Indian lady that was serving me in the shop told me so, she gave me her recipe: a little chickpea flour mixed with natural yogurt and lemon juice, make a paste (last photo on the right, above), put it on your face like a mask, leave it for a few minutes and then rinse. She told me the she used it for acne, and it was the only thing that worked.
Well, I tried for my daughter, and myself, and I am very happy with it, especially because in the last few years, since after reading The world without us by Alan Weisman, I have been avoiding commercial exfoliants, as many seem to be made with synthetic polymers. There is a chapter in this book entitled Polymers are forever, you can actually read the whole chapter by following this link (although if you are the eco type I suggest that you read the whole book :-), but I can tell you that the sentence that most impressed me was this one:
I still remember rushing to the bathroom to check my exfoliant, fortunately it was