Besan, otherwise known as chickpea flour or gram flour, is a flour made from ground chickpeas. It’s used commonly in Indian cooking to make savory deep fried delights like onion bhajis and pakoras. Besan has excellent “binding” properties, which is why it makes such a great batter and a not-too-shabby egg substitute in my vegan buckwheat crepes. Besan can also be used to make pancakes, like this delicious besan cheela, a savory pancake filled with onions and spices – great for sopping up yummy cilantro mint chutney. You can even make really thin besan pancakes and fill them like you would an omelet with all of your favorite veggies.
Last week I got a hankering for a besan cheela, and took some inspiration from Just Hungry’s zucchini and chickpea pancakes. The grated zucchini gave the pancake a good amount of height, and the besan flour did an impeccible job of holding it all together. The result was more of a burger than a pancake, and so the next day I enjoyed the rest in burger form with all the fixins: lettuce, tomato, tomato chutney, dijon mustard and some bonus sauteed mushrooms, courtesy of Tim (the sauteed mushrooms are noteworthy in their own right, but I’ll save that for another post).
This besan burger is a revelation! I’ve been seeking out a non-mushy, protein-packed bean burger recipe for years and I think I’m almost there. I’d like to try a few variations of the besan burger, using different veggies, whole beans, and other spices to form the patty. But in the meantime, here is the recipe that started it all. Feel free to adapt it to your liking and let me know how it goes!
These burgers have an Indian flair and are especially delicious with complementary condiments like mango chutney and avocado. Feel free to change up the spices and veggies to suit your tastes.
1 tsp cumin seed
2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
1 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp frozen peas
olive oil for cooking
Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. The moisture from the zucchini will probably be enough to turn this into a batter. If not, add just a tiny bit of water so you have a moist batter that isn’t too runny.
Heat up a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add a large spoonful of the mixture to the pan and flatten it down into a burger shape. Repeat with more spoonfuls of batter until you’re out of space in the pan.
Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes or until done (if you’re not sure, you can stick a knife in the middle of a burger and see if it comes out clean).
Serve on buns with all the fixins.
And now for some bonus besan pics to inspire you to get your chickpea on!