Donuts, curry and almond sweets: Romy Gill’s chickpea flour recipes for a vegetarian thali feast | Food


gram flour (AKA chickpea flour or besan) is the unsung hero of many Indian dishes. It has an earthy and nutty flavor that takes me right back to my mother’s veranda in West Bengal. This thali, however, is Punjabi-inspired and has some of the appearances of chickpea flour: it is used twice in the Kadhi pakora recipe – both in yogurt curry and in fritters – and it also makes appearances in miss roti, a regional flatbread, and ladoooa spicy sweetness served at parties.

pakora kadhi

Romy Gill’s chickpea flour curry with pakoras.

Preperation 20 mins
to cook 20 mins
serves 4

For the curry
50g flour
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
100g plain yogurt

3 teaspoons of gheeor 6 teaspoons of sunflower oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
4 large garlic cloves
peeled and thinly sliced
15g piece of ginger
peeled and sliced
1 medium red onionpeeled and thinly sliced
1 small handful of fresh cilantro

For the pakoras
75g flour
1 medium red onion
peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium potato
peeled and finely diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon of salt
2-3 green chillies
(I use bird’s eye), chopped
or sunflower oil, for frying

First, prepare the curry. Sift the gram flour into a large bowl and add the salt, turmeric, ground coriander, chili powder and yogurt. Gently stir in 900ml of water to form a thick paste, then set aside.

Put the ghee in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin and fenugreek seeds and, as soon as they start to sizzle, add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a minute. Add the sliced ​​onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for six minutes. Add the curry paste and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for five to six minutes, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, prepare the pakoras. Sift the gram flour into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients except the ghee. Add 60 ml of water little by little, mixing gently with your fingers until everything is coated: you are aiming for a mixture that is not too runny and sticks to your hand.

Pour enough ghee into a medium saucepan to fill it halfway, then set over medium heat to about 175°C – test by dipping a tiny bit of the pakora mixture: if it floats immediately, the fat is hot enough ; if it sinks, heat it again. Gently drop four tablespoons of the pakora mixture one by one into the hot ghee and fry for two or three minutes, until golden brown and crispy. When done, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain, then repeat with the rest of the pakora mixture.

Once all the pakoras are cooked, drop them into the curry mixture, reheat over low heat for 10-12 minutes and serve hot.

Missi roti

Romy Gill's Chickpea Flour Roti.
Romy Gill’s Chickpea Flour Roti.

Preperation 20 mins
Rest 10 minutes
to cook 10 minutes
serves 4

150g flour
125g chapati flour
(extra-fine wholemeal flour), plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 green bird’s eye peppers
1 medium onionpeeled and finely chopped
1 small handful of fresh cilantrochopped
4 tsp sunflower oil
Ghi or oil, for frying

Sift the two flours into a large bowl, then add the salt, cumin seeds, ground cumin, chillies, onion, coriander and 130ml water. Mix, then knead gently with your knuckles for four to five minutes. Stir in the oil and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Divide the dough into eight equal balls, then, on a lightly floured surface, gently flatten each into a disc 2mm thick (if they stick, dust with more flour), and place on the lined tray.

Place a frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, dry fry the roti one at a time for a minute or two on each side, until small bubbles appear on the surface; using a tea towel, press down on both sides for even cooking. Remove, then apply a layer of ghee or oil and set aside on a plate lined with paper towel. Keep warm, either by wrapping the roti in paper towel or by putting it in a very low oven. Repeat with the remaining dough balls and serve hot.

Punjabi Ladoo

Romy Gill's almond ladoo (almond balls).
Romy Gill’s almond ladoo.

Preperation 5 minutes
to cook 25 minutes
Makes ten

100g ghee
200g flour
125g light brown caster sugar
8 green cardamom seedscrushed
2 teaspoons toasted slivered almonds

Heat the ghee in a skillet over low heat. Once melted, add the gram flour and, stirring constantly to combine, toast the flour for about 20 minutes – it’s important to make sure the flour is toasted well for the best flavor. As the mixture turns golden brown and begins to smell earthy, the gram flour will begin to release the ghee.

Off the heat, stir in the sugar and cardamom. When the mixture has cooled down a bit, shape it into balls – the size of a golf ball or smaller. Sprinkle with almonds and serve with thali, or simply with a cup of chai, tea or coffee. Ladoos will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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