Besan (Chickpea Flour) Crackers
Besan is quickly becoming my golden flour child.
In last week’s introduction I talked about how darn amazing it is. Today I want to share my recipe and thoughts on the besan flour crackers we’re loving very much lately, to get you started on using this great ingredient in your own kitchen.
You might think baking crackers at home is more effort than its worth, especially with an array of quality choices at the market. As it turns out, the project is relatively basic; manageable for even the most kitchen-fearful. Besan crackers are particularly frill- and fuss-free, requiring no more than 30 minutes from ingredient gathering to warm samples.
I promise after your first tray bakes up beautifully into airy crisps, your mind will be changed. And that next time you’ll be doubling (or tripling) the batch.
If you need info on where to buy/how to store besan flour, hop back to my last post for some helpful hints.
What’s in it for me?
With a list of ingredients you can both pronounce and count on one hand, these crackers are so much better than store-bought, and perfect if food allergies or diet restrictions are a concern (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free, vegetarian + vegan).
These besan flour crackers are rich in high-quality protein and fiber to provide and sustain energy levels, and make for a happy digestive system. Pairing the carbohydrate and protein with healthy fats from the olive oil stabilizes blood sugar levels, provides satisfaction and satiation, and staves off hunger later on. The combination of nutrients also make these a healthy option for a pre-workout snack — just add on either a small serving of fresh or dried fruit, a tablespoon of nut or seed butter, or 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt.
More details on nutrition can also be found in the last post.
The plain version is seriously super, and strangely reminiscent of cheese crackers — no embellishment required. Light and flaky, a great crunch, delicate yet sturdy. Everything you want in a cracker!
I eventually let loose my creativity, embedding rolled out sheets of dough with various seeds, dried herbs and spices to uniquely garnish and flavor each batch. (In hopes of inspiring you further, find more detailed ideas, including three flavor variations in the HGN Notes at the end of the recipe.) My next brilliant brainstorm is to press thin slices of veg, like tomato, butternut squash, eggplant, olives and fresh herbs into the dough.
Lately we nibble straight from the container, occasionally taking the extra step to dip them into whatever sauces, dips, spreads are hanging out in our refrigerator — bright greens pesto, curried turmeric hummus, salsa verde, smoky pepper and rosemary barbecue sauce… As versatile as they are delicious.
Pair with a greens and hearty veg salad + a hit of lean protein, healthy fat and some fruit to make a light meal. Enjoy as part of an antipasti spread at a cocktail party with glasses of something lively. Cut your crackers slightly larger and layer on toppings to make hand-held crispy pizzas (think Gorgonzola, fresh tomato, a basil leaf + aged balsamic) or flat “bagel bites” (think avocado slices or a thin layer of shmear, smoked salmon, lemon juice, fresh snipped chives + tons of black pepper).
A single batch of smaller crackers yields a fair amount and they keep for weeks — plenty left over for an afternoon of errands, to send along with family members for snacks and lunches, or wrapped up as hostess gifts. Then again, you may not want to share!
Tell me… Have you made crackers at home before?
- 1 cup besan flour (also called garbanzo bean, chickpea, cici bean, and gram flour)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (certified 100% GF, if needed)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 3-4 Tbs water
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350º F.
- Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add the oil and mix with a rubber scraper until the mixture is crumbly. Add 3 Tbs of the water and work together with the scraper or your hands until it forms a ball. Add remaining 1 Tbs water only if needed. Continue to gently knead the dough with your hands right in the bowl until smooth.
- Turn dough out onto a piece of parchment or a Silpat mat that fits onto a large baking tray. Flatten and shape the dough into a square with your hands (as seen in first image above). Top this with a piece of plastic wrap, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a large rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, score (cut) the dough into 1-inch squares.
- Carefully move the whole lot -- parchment/Silpat with the cut dough on top -- to your large baking tray. (If you prefer to move each piece separately onto a tray lined with another piece of parchment or Silpat, go for it. I've done it both ways, though find it much easier and quicker to leave them as one scored piece.)
- Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp and lightly golden -- watch carefully! Remove from the oven and allow crackers to cool on the pan a few minutes. Move the crackers to a wire rack, gently breaking where you previously scored as needed. Cool completely before packaging. Crackers will keep in an airtight container for 1 to 2 weeks.
+ MEDITERRANEAN BESAN CRACKERS: Into the dry ingredients mix 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tsp orange zest, and 1/2 clove garlic that's been finely minced.
+ SPICY SUSHI BESAN CRACKERS: Mix 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger) and, if you like, 1 Tbs finely shredded nori, into the dry ingredients. Scatter some white or black sesame seeds over top, (if you have it, a couple teaspoons of the fiery Japanese seasoned salt called shichimi togarashi is killer) and lightly press in with your hands or go over a couple times with the rolling pin to make sure they stick.
+ CRAB(LESS) BOIL BESAN CRACKERS: Add 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, 1 tsp lemon zest, and as much cayenne you can handle!
+ Really any flavor combination you can dream up will work -- chopped fresh herbs like sage, thyme, tarragon, oregano; spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, garam masala, chilli flakes, curry powder (awesome!); fresh or dried citrus zest; or finely minced shallots, chives, or garlic.
+ Go nuts (or seeds) -- sprinkle with finely chopped pistachios, black or white sesame seeds, caraway or fennel seeds, or brown mustard seeds before baking, and gently press or roll into the dough. Nigella seeds are my new favorite -- tastes like pizza, no joke!
+ Make it sweet -- decrease salt in the dough to 1/4 tsp, swap equal amounts of melted butter, ghee or coconut oil for olive oil, and add a couple pinches of cinnamon or cardamom powder.
Recipe adapted from Delicious Everyday.
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