Besan, the hero of today’s post, has an exalted, an almost ‘celebrity’ like status in the Indian cuisine. This much loved ingredient is used not just as a binding agent for making fritters or pakoda (of huge variety) but it has been used for making our sweets and our savouries. The spectrum is so wide and diverse that it can safely be considered as one of the most versatile ingredients of Indian cooking. You can enjoy it for breakfast in the form of savory pancakes we called chila or cheela and what the west now calls vegan omelette or as sweet Orange & Chocolate Pancakes which are gluten free and vegan. For winters, it is turned in to a sweet soup called besan ka sheera or, what I have known it as, Lup’pi. In the state of Bihar it is mixed with spices and other condiments and used as filling that serves different purposes – as stuffing for making fried pastry dough called Kachori that is served as snack, stuffed in flat breads called Sattu ka Paratha and as a filling for making a delicious rustic dish called Litti. A popular Rajasthani dish called gatte ki sabzi uses chickpea flour for making the dumplings called gatte which are then served in a spicy yogurt based curry. My mother-in-law serves the gatte in a mustard seeds based curry which is finger licking good and tastes great with rice. I had last year shared here, the gatte in a spinach based curry.
Another scrumptious Indian dish which is a beautiful ode to this ingredient is the Sindhi Kadhi which is loaded with veggies and the Punjabi Kadhi that is made using besan and is served along with fritters, also made with besan. There is quite a number of dessert dishes that use besan as their base. Besan Ladoo, for one, is a popular Indian confection besides the besan burfi (fudge) and besan halwa (pudding), Mysore Pak, Boondi Ladoo, Moti Choor Ladoo. Maharashtrians use it to make the popular dish called kothambir vadi and Bombay chutney, Gujaratis are known for making popular snacks such as dhokla, fafda, khandvi, sev and ganthia. And how could I not mention the addictive south Indian snack called Chakli. The list is possibly endless and pretty much mind boggling. Such is the beauty of Indian cuisine, i.e. its simplicity and its variety 😊 So, breakfast done, soup done, snack done, flatbread done, curries done, confection done. Baking you ask? Well, we do have a hugely popular (in the north) traditional Indian cookie called Nankhatai which is besan based cookie.
I have been meaning to share these cookies here since a few months when I first tried them. I noted the recipe on a piece of paper and managed to lose it. Had to go over again with the recipe by trial and error till I got desired results. Anyways, its never too late to share a cookie recipe, right? Also, I am trying to redeem myself for the last year, when I hardly posted a cookie recipe except for these two – Spritz Cookies and Custard Powder Raspberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies. If you are wondering why I am not calling besan as chickpean flour, well, I sometime back learnt that the two are actually different from each other. The two terms are not mutual or complementary. Well technically both are made from chickpeas but of a different kind. Chickpea flour is made from white chickpeas or garbanzo beans (what we called Safed Chana here) while besan is made from chana dal which is attained from Bengal grams or black chickpeas. Now that we have cleared the air about the difference between besan and chickpea flour, these cookies are made using the besan. High in fiber and protein, full of vitamins and minerals, besan is a healthy alternative for those who are allergic to gluten. These besan cookies taste AH.M.A.Z.I.N.G and we never get tired of eating these fudgy, chewy, nutty tasting cookies with pools of melted chocolate. So good! They are gluten free, refined sugar fee, egg free (pretty much guilt free) and I guess that makes them the healthier version of brownie cookies 😀
85 gm Butter (Vegans can substitute butter with edible Coconut Oil)
½ C plus 2 tbsp Coconut Sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract OR 2 tsp Vanilla Essence
1½ C Besan
½ tsp Baking Soda
¼ tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Salt
120 gm Dark Chocolate 70% (I used couverture chocolate), roughly chopped
Coarse Sea Salt to sprinkle over the cookies (optional, but highly recommended)
Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Sieve them and set aside.
Whisk together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl using a hand whisk till the batter turns pale and fluffy.
Add the regular egg or vegan egg, whichever you are using, along with vanilla extract. (the egg free version of cookies turned out better, in our view)
Sieve the dry ingredients again before adding to the batter.
Fold in the besan till there are no dry patches or flour streaks in the batter.
Add the chocolate and mix it into the batter.
Cover the batter with a cling wrap and refrigerate it for at least half an hour.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter paper. Set aside.
Remove the batter from the fridge. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter, flatten off excess batter using a knife and release the batter on the prepared baking sheet. (This method gives a nice rough appearance to the cookies once they bake)
Place the cookie dough at a gap of at least three inches.
Place the baking sheet in the oven for 25 minutes or till the cookies look somewhat toasty on the top and are golden brown around the edges. (the time will depend on the thermostat of your oven)
Place rest of the batter back in the fridge while this batch is baking and remove it from the fridge, the same time you remove the first batch from the oven. However, if you have provision of baking simultaneously in two cookie sheets, go ahead and do that.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle with some coarse sea salt.
Allow the cookies to sit for 5 – 7 minutes before removing them from the baking sheet. Place them on a wire rack to cool them completely.
Bake the rest of the batter in the same manner.
Enjoy these fudgy, chewy, chocolaty cookies with your favorite cuppa 🙂
The recipe yields approximately 12 cookies
(Please check the notes below)
Note – I did not use coconut oil since my family does not appreciate the taste.
Note – Although this cookie dough does not have eggs but it cannot be eaten raw since it has a bitter taste due to uncooked besan.
Note – The amount of sugar was perfect for these cookies since I had used dark chocolate (please also note that we like our desserts, cookies or cakes lightly sweetened). Reduce the amount of sugar if you intend to use semi sweet chocolate for this recipe, probably by a couple of tablespoons.
Note – I have used 1 tablespoon of good quality vanilla extract for this recipe and in case you intend to use vanilla essence, two teaspoons should suffice considering that the ones available here are intensely strong. (I always recommend using best quality ingredients for baking coz it makes a world of difference in taste)
Note – The texture of the cookies will differ in case you use caster sugar instead of coconut sugar.
Note – The quality of butter (i.e. the amount of water and fat content) and the quality of besan, may lead to some difference in the appearance and texture of the cookies.
Note – The cookies take anywhere between 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your thermostat. They took 23 minutes to bake, for me. Keep in mind to reduce the baking time if you chose to make smaller sized cookies.
Note – We liked the egg-free version of the cookies better. Do share and let us know, here or by tagging me on the instagram account which one did you like better 🙂