Besan Fries

Besan flour–otherwise known as chickpea flour, gram flour or garbanzo bean flour–has become a coveted staple in my household. Almost every single day I make a quick meal using this versatile flour. Somehow, though, I missed the buzz about chickpea fries that seemed to be happening a couple of years ago… from folks like Mark Bittman, Martha Stewart, and even Oprah. Where have I been? I’m not sure either, but I promise I am never going back to that isolated place. Not after getting a taste of these crispy gems.

I admit, I’m not big on fried foods… really much at all. I have to eat fried stuff in extreme moderation because it jives badly with all the nutritious stuff (like raw veggies!) that my belly loves the most. But, if I ever have the craving for a few greasy french fries… I’ll probably reach for my bag of besan rather than my basket of potatoes.

These guys brings back memories of restaurant fries from my childhood: flavorful and crunchy with no need for dipping sauce. However, they do pair nicely with a blend of spicy mustard, a little Vegenaise and chili garlic sauce. Very nicely.

They are slightly more involved than your average fry, though. First you have to cook the batter and let it chill in the fridge until it firms up, almost like polenta. But after that, it’s smooth sailing. That is, if you’re not terrified of hot grease. In which case, it may be a tad more difficult for ya.

It’s great to make the batter and have it chilling in the fridge the night before so that you’ll have them ready to fry up the next day.

Besan Fries ~ Vegan & Gluten Free

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (191 g) besan/gram flour
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups water
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Line standard sized baking sheet with saran wrap or parchment paper.
  2. In medium sized bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients along with the minced garlic until well blended.
  3. Gradually stir in water and use whisk to stir vigorously to remove all lumps.
  4. Pour batter into large saucepan and cook over medium to medium- low heat. Stir continuously with a whisk ensuring that no lumps form in the batter. This will give you quite a nice workout in your arm as the mixture thickens. Embrace it. It should take about 6 mins or so for it to thicken up, and about 8 minutes total for the batter to cook completely. If the batter begins to thicken too quickly, reduce heat slightly. Again, it is imperative you stir this batter the entire time. Don’t walk away, not even for a few minutes.
  5. Once the batter becomes thick like soft polenta, or a porridge, remove from heat and immediately spread onto saran wrap or parchment paper lined sheet.
  6. Spread into a rectangle so that the batter remains about 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Chill in fridge for at least 3 hours. It is essential that the batter is chilled thoroughly, or you’ll have a hard time frying these guys up.
  8. Once the batter has firmed up a bit, bring about 1 1/2 inches of cooking oil to 360 degrees over medium-high heat. You can also use a deep fryer. Drop a tester piece of batter to see if oil is hot. It should begin to fry up immediately when the oil is ready to go.
  9. Use a sharp knife to cut small rectangles (or whatever shape you’d like) for the fries. Then one by one, pull back saran wrap and remove a single fry and gently drop it into the hot oil.
  10. Fry these in batches until all have been cooked. I returned my uncooked fries back into the fridge while the others were cooking to keep them cool.
  11. Cook until they are a golden brown on each side (about 4 mins or so) and place onto fabric or paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  12. Sprinkle with a touch more black pepper and chili powder. Serve alone or with your favorite dippin’ sauce.

Diet type: Vegan

Diet (other): Gluten free

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49 Responses to Besan Fries

  1. Sarojini says:

    Wow- these do look amazing as an occasional fried treat!

  2. Julie Hale says:

    They look delicious, but we try to stay away from oil and frying, can these be baked or cooked some other way?

  3. Cynthia MUrray-Davis says:

    I just made these and they came out great! They don’t look as good as in the restaurant but they taste fabulous. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  4. deepa says:

    Just wanted to throw out there that besan is the hindi word for chickpea. I’m not sure how they are related but the chickpeas I use to make besan at home are really different from the chickpeas in a can. If you go to the indian store or south asian market and look for packets of dried legumes called “chana dal” thats what you make besan from. Thanks for the great recipe! I’ve been thinking of using besan instead of corn starch to make this sweet potato fries recipe – this gives me the impetus to give it a shot. Will let you know how it goes!

    • allyson says:

      Thanks for your input Deepa! I have always purchased my bags of besan at Indian markets, and it was the only “chickpea” or gram flour I had ever known. In an emergency outage :) last month I ran out and picked up some Bob’s Red Mill brand garbanzo bean flour and was disappointed with the results of my usual recipes… and I couldn’t figure out why, since the ingredients in both just read “chickpeas”. I know I have seen chana dal in its whole form before, but I never put the relation together. The labeling on the besan [the bag I have now actually says chana dal (besan) on the front] is occasionally different depending on the brand I get as well, adding further to my confusion! You’ve helped clear up a bit, though. Thank you! Can’t wait to hear how the sweet potato fries work out!

  5. DBE55 says:

    Hey, I just made the batter but realised afterwards that the ingredients call for 2 cloves garlic. At what stage are you supposed to add the garlic? Or is it considered dry ingredients?
    Can’t wait till they chill enough to cook!

    • allyson says:

      hello!

      Yes, the garlic is supposed to be mixed together with the dry ingredients… sorry about the confusion! hope they turn out well!
      <3

      • DBE55 says:

        All good. Just my luck though, as I was heating up the oil to fry them, the fuse for the electric stove blew up and so I only have the little microwave combi oven =(Stupid tiny exorbitantly priced city apartment). I ended up tossing them through some olive oil, cumin, garlic powder, and throwing them into the “oven”. The end result was gooey on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside. Not completely inedible, but not exactly edible either. Gonna have to make friends with the neighbour’s deep fryer.

  6. Did anyone ever report back on how the baked version turned out? I can’t really handle fried foods very well (I usually end up doubled over later that night and again the next morning) but these look SO good!

  7. Lisa Turner says:

    I am so going to try these. Lovely recipe.

  8. erinwyso says:

    Looks amazing — thanks for sharing!

  9. Besan is so underappreciated. I never would’ve though to prepare it like polenta – amazing!

  10. Sarah says:

    *french fries, that is..

  11. Sarah says:

    Oh gosh! I had grown used to my sweet potato and potato allergy, but the day I reacted to plantains, I came to the realization I had to give up any semblance of friend fries… but that happened to be the same day I stumbled across these lovely besan fries! Very excited to try these :) I’ll probably take a crack at a baked version, as oil is very unkind to me these days. Thanks so much for introducing me to a potato fry alternative!

  12. Franny says:

    Hey Allyson! I have a horrible habit of watching the food network all day long
    (especially at night when I should probably be doing homework). I love desserts, so cupcake wars is always a fun one for me! I saw this episode (that is currently playing) earlier today and was so excited because there is a team who is competing who bakes with only gluten free, vegan, allergy friendly ingredients. I was even more excited because this time I heard that they were from Philly! So, when you get here there is a lovely place awaiting you and your family(: I thought of you, and hope you and other Philadelphia followers get a chance to experience Sweet Freedom Bakery! (I plan to go this weekend, I can’t wait!) Here is the website if you and other goodie lovers ever want to check them out! http://www.sweetfreedombakery.com/index.html

    • allyson says:

      Franny,

      It’s great that a gluten free AND vegan establishment made it on cupcake wars! Hooray! I have heard of Sweet Freedom (through my intense restaurant and food options researching for Philly!), and believe me… I cannot WAIT to visit. Frequently!
      So awesome of you to share this with other readers!! You are a true sweetheart! <3 I'll have to do a review of them when I finally get a taste of their treats. :)

  13. These are awesome!
    I work at a vegan restaurant in NYC called Peacefood Cafe, and one of the most popular items on our menu are the Chickpea Fries! Time Out magazine did an article about the 5 best fries in the city, and ours were on the list!
    I love your suggestion of using a chili garlic sauce.
    And I LOVE your blog!

    • allyson says:

      Thank you! I was just perusing Peacefood’s menu online a day or so ago (looking up amazing vegan restaurants)… I’ve got to make a visit and try those fries!!!

  14. Wyethia says:

    I tried these last night and they were indeed yummy. I think I didn’t make the batter thick enough because I had a really hard time getting them to hold shape. Parchment paper wasn’t the best choice for me either. But YUM! I love to make little pancakes with garbanzo bean flour–you just add water and cook in a pan with very little oil. they feed my pancake cravings and they are great savory (cut up red peppers etc in the batter).

    • allyson says:

      That’s great info Wyethia, thank you! The batter is strange… but it should definitely set up like a very soft polenta after being chilled for a while. I can imagine that the parchment would have been a problem with wet batter :( Glad they still turned out tasty!
      I’ll have to try the pancakes! Those sound very good!

  15. Cecil says:

    I made these yesterday as a reward for a hard weekend of work building garden beds – and as an excuse to haul out my deep fryer. They were terrific!

  16. Hannah says:

    Ah, I do love panisse, but usually keep mine very plain with just salt and pepper. Spicing them up a bit is a great idea- Sounds like the perfect finger food for a party, or maybe a snack to go with beer!

    • allyson says:

      I love the word “panisse”… sounds so much classier than “besan fries”! Agree with the perfect snack to go with beer… ’tis a very good combo!

  17. Ana Soares says:

    Looks really great! How much water did you use?
    Thanks!

  18. Dalyn says:

    These look delicious. Have you tried the chickpea flour scramble from “660 Curries”?

    Here’s a variation of it:

    http://foodandspice.blogspot.com/2009/04/scrambled-chickpea-flour-with-fiery-red.html

  19. Jojo says:

    Oh my! Those look fantastic.

  20. Definitely gonna try baking these, maybe just sprayed with oil.

  21. Alliw says:

    Bookmarked this recipe! I’m currently in love with Socca and am excited about new ways to use my chickpea flour :)

  22. Mightyvegan says:

    I just made these yesterday too! They are dangerous, the whole time I was frying them I was sampling and sampling, god knows how many I ate!

  23. Linda says:

    Oooh…this looks soo good and is such a great idea! I have never seen a recipe like this before. I recently posted a recipe for Farinata using chickpea flour! I love learning all these new ideas – thanks for sharing!

  24. Kelly@RahRaw says:

    Oh yum! These look so good! I LOVE falafel, so I’m sure I’d love these. Maybe I’ll try them baked to cut out some of the oil. Now, I just have to get some chickpeas (I eat them all the time, but have only used canned). Thanks for the recipe! :)

  25. Mihl says:

    I reacently found out how awesome chickpea flour is when fried. I made a socca from Celine’s/Joni’s latest book and it was soo good. I thought I was addicted immediately. Your fries sound like a great way to feed my addiction! I think I’ll make these for Easter when I am home with my parents. My father has a deep frier. Thank you for the recipe, Allyson!

  26. Julie Hasson says:

    Yummy! The fries look so delicious Allison, and I find myself wanting to run into the kitchen right now and make a batch. Maybe tomorrow night for dinner. Have you tried them topped with chili? Do you think they would make good chili fries?

  27. Laurel says:

    They look gorgeous but I’ll bet they’re all gone before you even get a chance at them. Well maybe your kids aren’t quite tall enough yet. Good as they look though I’m with Heidi. There’s a hot oil monster under my bed. At least he scares the dust bunnies away.

  28. Deanna says:

    Yum! I made socca for the first time finally tonight. I liked it a lot, but it was not a hit with the kiddo. (No flavor, mom.) I wonder if he’d like a fried version more….

  29. Angela says:

    NO WAY! I have a HUGE bag of chickpea flour in the cupboard and was just thinking the other day how I need to find some recipes for it. This looks awesome – will totally try it! What else do you use chickpea flour for? I’ve only used it for Falafel and Pakoras…

  30. Jen says:

    Oh wow! My son is allergic to potatoes so I have missed fries… I think this is going to be one I have to try. And, as usual, your pictures are amazing!

  31. Heidi says:

    Those look amazing. I can just imagine that the texture of them would be so good. But I am a bit scared of hot grease :( They look so good though!

    • allyson says:

      It’s okay Heidi, so am I! Oh, the things I do for my blog ;) I wonder if anyone has ever tried baking these things…?

      • Heidi says:

        I might just try it and let your know :D I’ve done it with polenta and it gets so nice and crispy :) Yummyyy!

  32. Wendi says:

    I bought some of these in chip form at WF, but these look to flatout die for! Wow!