One of the first purchases we made, once we were allowed out of the after isolation in the middle of March, was a huge 5kg bag of gram flour. It was the only flour I could find anywhere, so needs must. We cooked some delicious bahjees, and the bag was promptly forgotten. Alone and unloved it sat in the cupboard for a few more weeks before a friend mentioned they could not get hold of any gram flour, so they tool the bag and we kept 1kg in a container. We tried some chickpea chocolate cookies. I liked them, but they were very dry, and not a great hit. Rather than play with the recipe we gave up. A further 4 months passed before I started on my gut health dietary plan and found myself in need of calories but not allowed gluten.
It sounds crazy as I am writing this, yet it really took that long to wake up to the benefits of chick pea flour, or gram flour as it more often labelled these days. A quick glance in comparison to wheat flour would make you wonder why you would switch (unless you are gluten intolerant)
Flavour is a big part of this. The texture is also very different in baked goods. It is not a replacement for bread flour, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you should use it for everything. It has a place, and it deserves are far larger place than we give it.
Gram flour is denser in calories, and also in nutrients. Combined with a texture that absorbs water more readily than water and you have a flour that you can use less of, has more nutrients, and being much, much higher in fat, protein and fibre than wheat flour it is lower on the GI scale. The implication is that it will have less of an impact on blood sugar levels, which in turn can reduce the likelihood of diabetes and and give you a range of health benefits including less fat storage, greater energy and reduced risk of heart disease.
What you really want to know is “does it taste any good?”.
The true answer is that it depends on what you are baking. I quite liked the chocolate cookies we made all those months ago, even if they were a bit dry. I am sure I can create better ones on the future.
For a quick and easy accompaniment to a meal then yes, there are some vary tasty alternatives to bread. Don’t expect them to soak up the delicious juices in quite the same way as a sourdough.
Socca (pron ‘Sokka’) is a French street food, originating from Nice, although Italians may argue that their Genoese ‘Farinata’ pre-dates it. They are the same food. A thick chickpea flatbread, baked on an open oven. I have tried the traditional version, and a variant from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall that is more pancake like in size and shape.
My version has the oil mixed in to the batter because i misread the recipe. I will try it oil-less next time which will give a crispier texture. It is really easy to make, and will taste best with a bit of planning.
1 cup (92 grams) – Gram Flour (I dislike anything other than grams and Millilitres, but this is so quick, a cup is fine)
1 cup (250ml) – water
good pinch of salt
3 tbsp (45ml) good olive oil
additional flavouring. eg, garlic pepper, rosemary, Italian seasoning, cumin, smoked paprika. The choice is yours! I like fresh, finely chopped, rosemary.
Add the flour to a large bowl, gradually add the water and whisk into a smooth batter. Make sure you get plenty of lift from the whisk so the batter forms an aerated topping. add the oil and flavourings, and whisk again.
Allow it time to rest, at least 30 min in the fridge, for the gram flour to absorb the water. This makes for a smoother batter, and the chilling seems to help it cook better too.
Heat a pan over a medium high heat, with a dash of oil in the pan, add approx ¼ of the batter, swill it around the pan and leave until the top looks dry, and it is a light brown colour underneath. Flip and continue to cook until the other side is lightly brown too. It should be full of little air holes.
Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Cut the stack into 6 triangles, and serve.
A total winner with Mary Berry’s Irish Lamb Stew