I recently started seeing chickpea flour (also known as besan, or gram flour) everywhere. Now that apparently every child is gluten-intolerant, I see mommy bloggers hailing chickpea flour on their websites as this **breakthrough** discovery. I hate to break it to them, but Indians have been experimenting with this alternative flour for centuries. This recipe is my favorite use for chickpea flour—as a rich, crispy coating for vegetables. It’s like tempura, but nuttier and without the greasy bits from the frying. This was also my late grandmother’s absolute favorite dish, and geez, are these green beans good: crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside. It’s all too easy to devour an entire pan of them in a single sitting. Make sure you scrape the roast-y bits off the bottom of the pan before serving. Those are the best part! Tip: Don’t cut the green beans individually; it will take forever. Line up bunches of three or four beans of the same size and cut them together. Alternatively, just use frozen precut green beans—they work fine!
Editor’s note: This recipe comes to us from Indian(-ish): Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family, as does Spinach and Feta Cooked Like Saag Paneer and Caramelized Onion Dal.
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ajwain seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional, but really great)
- 1 small yellow onion finely diced
- 1 small Indian green chile or serrano chile finely chopped
- 1 pound green beans ends trimmed, cut into ½-inch pieces (see Tip)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice from about half a lime, plus more if needed
- In a medium skillet over low heat, toast the chickpea flour, stirring continuously, until the flour is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the flour to a plate and let it cool. Wipe out the skillet.
- In the same skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the ajwain seeds and cook until they start to pop, which should be in a matter of seconds. Swirl in the turmeric and add the asafetida (if using), onion, and chile. Cook until the onion is just translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the green beans and salt, then the toasted chickpea flour. Add ¼ cup water and mix everything together so the flour evenly coats the beans. Spread the beans out into an even layer in the pan, cover, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the beans are tender and bright green and there’s a crispy layer of chickpea flour on the bottom of the pan. Once the beans are cooked, scrape up the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan and mix them into the beans. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice. Taste and add more lime juice, if needed, then give everything one last stir before serving.