Besan, also known as gram flour or chickpea flour, is a popular ingredient in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cuisines. It is made by grinding dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) into a fine flour. Besan is gluten-free, high in protein, and has a nutty flavor that adds richness to various dishes. Here's some information about besan and its usage:
1. Culinary Uses:
- Thickening Agent: Besan is often used as a thickening agent in soups, stews, and curries.
- Batter: It is used to make batters for various dishes like pakoras, bhajis, and fritters. When mixed with water or other liquids, besan forms a smooth and light batter that gives a crispy texture when fried.
- Sweets and Desserts: Besan is used in making traditional sweets like ladoo, halwa, and burfi.
- Breads and Snacks: It can be used to make bread, such as the popular Indian dish "Besan Chilla" (a savory pancake made from besan).
- Coating: Besan is used as a coating for frying vegetables, fish, or chicken to create a crispy outer layer.
2. Gluten-Free Alternative:
As besan is made from chickpeas, it is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent alternative for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
3. Nutritional Benefits:
Besan is a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It contains essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, and folate.
Besan is also used in skincare routines. It can be mixed with various ingredients like yogurt, turmeric, and lemon juice to create face packs that cleanse, exfoliate, and brighten the skin.
5. Vegan and Vegetarian Cooking:
Besan is commonly used in vegan and vegetarian cooking as a substitute for eggs in batters and as a binding agent in dishes like veggie burgers.
To keep besan fresh and maintain its flavor, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Properly stored, it can last for several months.
In summary, besan or gram flour is a versatile and nutritious ingredient that finds its way into various savory and sweet dishes in different cuisines around the world. Its gluten-free nature and high protein content make it a popular choice for people with dietary restrictions or those looking to add more plant-based protein to their diet.