Besan Puda or The Best Chickpea Crepe/Wrap/Tortilla Ever

by Chance on April 20, 2016

I draw a lot of inspiration from Indian cooking. I love the bright flavors and the slow simmered sauces. I love the way the spices come together in a magical synchronicity that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. I love a lot of Indian food, but because we avoid dairy and gluten for my son, a lot of it is off-limits when we eat out. If you’ve read this blog for any time, you’ll already know that my common solution to that problem is to make it myself. (I do have to add here that I have a new favorite vegetarian Indian restaurant. Madras Mantra in Decatur. Ram and Mahi are the nicest people and this restaurant is the hands-down best vegetarian Indian I have eaten in Atlanta. We know which items are safe for my kiddo, but they are very helpful if you have questions and have extensive gluten free options like papadam/papad, idli, dosa, white rice and pulaos, medu vada, and uthappam. They do use ghee in most dishes.) For that reason, I have spent  a lot of time reading Indian recipes. On my Roku box, there is an Indian food channel that is the bees-knees. Really. It’s real people in their own kitchens cooking Indian food. I don’t like all of them, but there are a few standouts. One of these standouts is Manjula of Manjula’s Kitchen. She has her own website where you can also view her videos and obtain her recipes. I have never made a Manjula recipe that hasn’t been well received by my family or utterly delicious. Her spices are always right on and because you’re seeing it on video, you learn the important tricks like frying the spices in hot oil and cooking tomato puree down. I mention her here because the original recipe for “Besan Puda” or “Gram Flour Dosa” comes from her website. You may notice that I have included three links to the original recipe. That is because it is important to give credit where credit is due. I did not think of this on my own, but I have made changes (as always) and I am using it in some unique ways, so I will post the recipe that I use here. **I do always omit the hot chilis from my Indian cooking. Too hot.

Another thing I often look for when reading recipes are those recipes that are not common, but are naturally gluten free or perhaps made of a more nutritionally dense ingredient than we would normally use. Since I work around food restrictions as well as preferences, this really helps. For example, I use a lot of almond flour in my baking – both “regular” gluten free and grain free baking because it greatly increases its nutritional value. In this case, “besan” or “gram” flour is a flour made from finely ground chickpeas. Some people do not like bean flours because they give them tummy upset. If that is the case, I will be sad that you do not get to make this awesome recipe. If you think you might want to try it, you could try adding a pinch of hing or asafetida to the batter to help with digestibility. I have used the finely ground besan flour from the Indian markets and I have also used the chickpea flour from DeKalb Farmer’s Market. The gram flour from the Indian market is superior because it is more finely ground.  I think you could use a garfava flour mix here just as well. In contrast to wheat flour, this recipe contains no gluten. In contrast to commercial gluten free flours, it contains no rice flours, corn products or xanthan gum. I also use chickpea flour to make homemade falafel, pakora (fritters) and ladoo (kind of like a fudge).

Besan Puda
First, put a medium sized frying pan on medium heat to get hot. I use an approximately 8 inch pan. You want a pan that you could make crepes in, not a tiny omelet pan and not a huge pan either. I use stainless steel and cast iron pans, so they take a little bit to heat. It will be just right by the time you make the batter.

Put the following ingredients into a 4-cup measuring cup or medium sized bowl:
2 cups chickpea flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch (this is optional, but it makes a crispier outside)
1 tsp salt
Whisk these ingredients together to mix them.
Additionally, you can add 1/2-1 tsp of granulated or powdered garlic or onion for more flavor.

Measure out a total of 1 1/2 cups of water into a separate bowl or measuring cup. Pour in about 1/2 cup of water and start to whisk it into the flour. Add the water in 1/2 cup or so increments, whisking well after each addition, until all the water is added. Avoid the temptation to dump all the water in. This will ensure a lumpy batter that will then require you to dirty the immersion blender to rescue it, and that’s just one more thing to wash! Your batter should be completely smooth. If there are any small lumps, mash them against the side with the whisk so that the batter is smooth. The batter should be like pancake batter; fairly thick, but able to run off the spoon. It should not be thin and drippy and it should not be thick and gloppy. We’re talking baby bear’s porridge here people.

For cooking you will need oil to spray or brush into the pan (I use grapeseed, coconut, or avocado) as well as a spatula that can release the crepe/tortilla/thing you are cooking from the pan. I use a metal one because that’s what I use on my pans. You will also need a ladle.

Spray the pan generously with your oil. Fill your ladle about half full. You’re aiming for about 1/4 Cup of batter. Pour the batter into the center of the pan. Wait about 3 seconds. Use the bottom of the ladle to gently move the batter out from the center of the pan, using concentric circles. As in, move the ladle in small circles around the pan that gradually become bigger, pushing the wet batter with the ladle as you go. This sounds complicated, but it’s easy to feel when you are doing it. Stop when you get to the edge or when you run out of batter, whichever comes first. Your first ones will be thicker than your later ones and that won’t matter, because they will all be delicious!

Cook on this side until the top starts to look dry. At some point, use your spatula to gently pry up the edges to get it ready to be flipped. You can peek at the bottom. Little brown spots are tasty. When you have little brown spots, when it smells toasty, when the top is dry or some combination of those indicators, lightly spray the top with oil and then flip it over.

Press it down firmly in the pan. Cook for another few minutes on this side and then remove to a plate. Eat. Repeat.

Variations:

We really miss something I used to make with shredded cheese from a bag, marinara sauce and flour tortillas that I called “pizzadillas”. Now, I make these and when I flip it over to the second side, I put in grated raw goat cheese, about a cup of very finely chopped raw spinach and about one teaspoon of marinara sauce, dolloped all around. After the cheese starts to melt, I flip it closed like a quesadilla and let it cook for a few minutes to wilt the spinach. Nom. Nom. Nom.

I did try Manjula’s original version with zucchini and I thought it was tasty. However, my kids HATE zucchini, so they weren’t huge fans.

Besan Puda or The Best Chickpea Crepe/Wrap/Tortilla Ever
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Cuisine: Indian transformed
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups besan, chickpea or gram flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ Cup tapioca starch
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic or onion (optional)
  • 1½ Cups water
Instructions
  1. Whisk the salt and tapioca starch into the chickpea flour (along with optional flavoring) in a 4 Cup measuring cup or medium bowl.
  2. Adding ½ Cup at a time, start to add the water, patiently beating out the lumps with each addition.
  3. Continue until all the water has been added and the batter is smooth.
  4. If the batter did not end up smooth, whiz it in a blender and return it to the measuring cup.
  5. Heat a medium (8") pan over medium high heat. Oil the pan.
  6. When the pan is hot, add ¼ Cup or ½ ladle full of batter to the pan.
  7. Wait about 3 seconds and then place the ladle down into the center of the pan.
  8. Start to move the batter out, using the weight of the ladle while moving it in circles.
  9. Continue until you reach the edge of the pan or run out of batter.
  10. Cook until the top starts to look dry, it smells toasty or there are dark brown spots on the underside (or all three).
  11. Spray with a drizzle of oil.
  12. Gently loosen the edges and flip over. Cook for a few minutes on the second side, pressing down firmly with the spatula.
  13. Remove to a plate.
  14. Optional step: Once the puda is flipped, fill with raw chopped spinach, cheese and a teaspoon of marinara sauce. Once the cheese begins to melt, fold it in half and press down to seal. Cook for a few minutes and then flip.

These are also a quite passable wrap if you have a hankering for a sandwich. In that case, I would cook them slightly less so that they were not quite as dry, fold or roll them and wrap them in foil as I finished them so that they stay warm and somewhat pliable.

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