Besan is chickpea flour, also known as known as gram flour. It is gluten-free, and is used in the preparation of both sweet and savoury dishes.
The super-fine flour prepared from pure chickpeas has an earthy aroma and binding nature that makes it a key ingredient in the batter used for preparing pakoras, potato and vegetable bhaji, and some sweet dishes.
Besan is also blended into koftas and it is an important ingredient in kadhi, a yogurt-based soup that is frequently made in north Indian homes. Besan is used as a thickener in soups and sauces of all types, and may be used as egg is used in western cuisine to bind ingredients together.
Frequently you will roast the flour lightly before using to release the natural oils. This will give it a slightly darker colour.
Besan is available from good supermarkets, Indian grocers, or health food stores. It is sold in two grinds, fine and coarse. Most of the recipes in this book use the fine flour.
Choose yellow-coloured flour that is clean and free from insects. Check the label and buy the freshest stock, as it can develop a rancid smell over time.
Store in a clean, dry and airtight container away from moisture and sunlight.