The familiarity of the besan ki sabzi is a great way for me to connect with cherished childhood memories.
I hear and read about kitchens of the future. Kitchens where robots will whip up your favourites with the click of a button. Maximum output with minimal effort. Convenient indeed! Convenience is all one is after these days. Yet we have never lived in a more “inconvenient” time – the inconvenience of the soul. One has access to the best possible spas, medicine and gadgets. Yet one craves for the not so convenient times. Those times when we didn’t have just a button to access world news but knew how are neighbours were doing. The human and humane elements seem to be diminishing in our lives. And convenience is fast replacing compassion.
Traditional Bihari Recipe from Dadi Ma’s Kitchen
One can dine at the best restaurants and enjoy the most delectable of cuisines but nothing nourishes the soul as good old comfort food which transports you back into your grandma’s kitchen. With the pots, and pans clanking, an orderly frenzy with our favourite dishes being prepared. No robot can replicate that! After all, what made grandma’s food special was not just about the ingredients and their quantities, it was the love and affection she cooked with.
This besan ki sabzi is one such dish that will always remind me of my grandmother’s cooking. I recall us kids fighting over hot chickpea fries before they went into the gravy and in a matter of minutes, most of them would vanish. Daadi Ma (grandma) would shoo us out in her usual sweet angry way before she would whip up another batch for the curry. These fritters would make great lunch box snacks too!
Key Steps to Make the Perfect Besan Ki Sabzi
- The chickpea batter is made runny but not too watery as shown in the clip below.
- While cooking the batter one needs to work fast, keeping the flame low and constantly stirring so it cooks evenly. You may need to add a few tablespoons of oil in this step if the mixture starts to stick to the pan.
- The cooked mixture needs to be transferred to a greased plate right away and then kneaded to form an almost smooth dough. Then flatten it out as shown below before cutting out small squares to be fried.
- Chickpea flour or Besan- 1 cup
- Water - 1 cup and some extra
- Ajwain- 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder-1/2 tsp (optional)
- Cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
- Coriander powder- 1/2tsp
- Salt- 1.5 tsp or as per taste
- Fried Onion paste- 3/4 cup ( fry onions in 1tsp oil till translucent, cool and then blend to make a paste)
- Tomato paste- 1/2 cup
- Ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds-1 tsp
- Bay leaf- 1
- Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
- Coriander powder- 1 tsp
- Garam Masala powder- 1/2 tbsp
- Salt- 1.5 tsp or as per taste
- Oil- For deep drying and some extra
- Chopped coriander leaves for garnish -1.5 tbsp
- In a deep bowl add chickpea flour, ajwain, red chili powder, Cumin powder- 1/4tsp, Coriander powder- 1/2tsp, Salt- 1.5tsp
- Gradually add water, mixing well with your clean hand till a smooth, pancake consistency batter , without any lumps is achieved ( see video for reference )
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non stick pan and add the prepared batter to it with constant stirring
- Cook on medium low flame with constant stirring till the batter starts to come together
- Turn off heat and transfer to a greased plate and knead with your hands to get an almost smooth dough
- Then flatten out the dough with your fingers gently till it reaches almost one centimetre thickness
- Cut out small two inch squares and deep fry on a medium flame, flipping sides till golden and drain them on a kitchen towel
- In the same pan heat almost approximately 1 tbsp oil and add bay leaf and cumin seeds
- Once the seeds start to splatter add the fried onion paste, ginger-garlic paste, 1/2 tsp cumin powder,1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tbsp garam masala powder and cook on a medium flame till oil starts to separate , then add tomato paste
- Cook for 3-5 minutes on a medium flame then add water and give it a nice mix , add salt as per taste
- Then add the fried chickpea squares to the gravy and let it simmer on a low flame uncovered for about 5 minutes
- The chickpea fries will absorb considerable amount of water so feel free to add some more hot water to the mix to thin out the gravy as per the desired consistency
- Turn off heat, garnish with chopped coriander and let it sit covered for 5 minutes
- Serve hot with rice or chapatis