besan: it's also a face cream.

A few weeks ago Mara and I enjoyed a serious fling with chickpea flour, or besan. For a quick reference with some recipes, check here.

My thumbnail sketch: it's a flour made from ground, roasted chickpeas that is very common in Indian cooking. First of all, I already want to marry Indian food and have hundreds of children with it. There was a period in my mid-twenties when, newly single and flush with my first real salary, I was eating out every night, and a great many of those nights were spent at a place called Himalayas on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta. Pappadam with coriander/mint and tamarind chutneys, some bhajees, maybe a chana dal, a blazing chicken vindaloo (you want it even hotter??? it's already veddy veddy spicy my friend) with a lovely raita, and a big smoky Taj Mahal ale or three...with my Creative Loafing or LAN Manager manual or Daveyboy Liebman's Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony in front of me, I didn't need no nothin' else.

One year and 15 extra pounds later, well...I had to scale things down to a weekly visit. But, in, uh...heaven, right, y'all'll see me there with my long-lost Indian friends, breathing deadly fire and stumbling out to my hubcapless Bonneville if we have them there. Kidding!

Anyway, so, Mara got me this superduper Indian cookbook last year, like Madhur Jaffrey's biblical tome which we also have, but with gorgeous pictures and a handful of southern Indian recipes as well, and there were a couple of intriguing besan-centric recipes in there. It's kind of their standard breading for frying things, so that's the way we started using it--as a coating for fried fish. And it was excellent. We then progressed to sort of falafel-esque besan fritters with spinach and scallions in them, served with some dipping chutneys. Also really nice. Turns out you can even make breakfast-y sort of things out of them. One critical factor is to toast the besan first, otherwise it has a distinctly uncooked taste. I don't always do this, and when I don't I'm always sorry.

The major relevance here is the nutritional content. Which I don't have at hand. Soon, rabbit, soon. Oh, and it's also a face cream when mixed with a little rosewater. More on that as well.

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