Indian chick pea flour and sweets

As the cooler weather roles in, I'm starting to find the idea of baking more appealing again. The challenge is to channel that baking energy into something that won't lead to guilt:)

If you haven't baked with chickpea flour - I'd recommend you give it a go for it's high protein, low carb and high fibre content. It can have a bit of a "bean" taste to it, so I always include spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and or garam masala (typically the lot - because I LOVE these flavours). Take a look at a previous post HERE for a fantastic carrot cake recipe. HERE for ricotta muffins, and muffins in general.

chickpea flour carrot cake
As the gluten-free market swells, it's getting easier and easier to find gluten-free flours on the shelves of everyday super markets. Certainly, the organic and health food groceries are loaded with options. At the prices, you'd think that some of these "specialty" flours were new inventions.

I live in a pretty cosmopolitan city with numerous neighbourhoods full of authentic ethnic foods from around the world. Little India has to be my favourite. I've been buying my chickpea flour (also known as gram flour and chana flour) there for years. The bag in the photo above cost $2.99 Cdn for a kg (2.2lb) bag. The same quantity of chick pea flour from a "specialty" mill at my local health food shop would cost upwards of $15.00. 

I should state here that I'm totally against buying "cheap" food, especially when it's made on the backs of others. I'm addressing packaging and distribution costs here. Not to mention the marketing hype around what is gluten free. You can find JAM on the shelve labelled gluten-free these days!

If you need to see the words "gluten-free" stamped on your food to feel safe (I feel this way about oats because the milling process is so tightly aligned with the wheat flour channel), the brand pictured above states that it is fact gluten free. There's a recipe on this bag for onion bhajia (fritters) that I'm going to try soon. Watch for a later post!

Indian sweets come in many varieties - milk is the main ingredient in these ones. 
Finally - if you are lucky enough to have an authentic Indian grocer, you may find "sweets". Most are made with sugar and condensed milk, flavoured with nuts, saffron, cardamon... the texture is something between fudge and cheesecake. Mamma mia - I always eat WAY too many. There are a few varieties made with chick pea flour, and a number that are made with wheat flour (also known as sooji). I advocate for adventure in food - but not taking risks where your health is concerned. Always ask the proprietor for more information where packaging isn't available to clarify ingredients... and in the end, it's always best to trust your "gut" instincts when it comes to whether or not to indulge.

Alternatively, you can feel pretty virtuous about baking a big cake made with chick pea flour :)