These besan fritters are inspired by the ones we recently ate at Mamasita. I didn't have to look far for a guide - I've had Manfest Vegan's besan fry recipe bookmarked for almost a year. It involves cooking the chickpea flour into a batter with water and some spices then pouring it all into a tray to set, much as I would for polenta. From there I chopped the besan slice into thick Mamasita-sized triangles and dry-fried them instead of deep-frying rectangular 'chips'.
As with polenta, it's important to avoid lumps. I added the water in small doses and all was looking well until the batter began thickening. Our gas heat source was too hot and focused, flicking up chunks of thickened mixture from the centre while the rest was still a thin liquid - this really requires an even heat source and I'll use a diffuser next time. I managed to beat the lumps out of the batter but it cooked quicker than Allyson advises and looked pretty gluey. It set as intended, and then posed a few challenges again as I dry-fried the triangles and tried not to leave their golden crust stuck to the pan.
For all the insecurity, they were rather good - soft and savoury, though far denser than the pillowy Mamasita fritters. (I wonder how we can pull that off? They're vegan, so there should be no need to whip egg whites, for example.) Their density made them rich and I was glad that we'd sautéed mushrooms to augment them. We also ate some home-pounded basil pesto and leftover coleslaw on the side - a piecemeal but tasty meal.
(adapted slightly from a recipe on Manifest Vegan)
1 1/4 cups besan (chickpea flour)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water + 1/4 cup extra water
a few tablespoons vegetable oil
Line a 22cm square cake tin with paper.
In a medium-large saucepan, stir together the besan, pepper, garlic, chilli and salt. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the water to make a smooth paste, then another half cup of water until the batter is smooth again. Whisk in the next cup of water and when it's smooth, set the saucepan over steady well-diffused medium heat. Stir the mixture continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon as it thickens. Allyson suggests cooking the batter for about 15 minutes, but I found that mine was thick and gluey by the 10 minute mark - I added a further 1/4 cup of water and couldn't push it much further for fear of the mixture completely drying out.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and let it spread out into an even layer; mine needed a bit of coaxing. Chill the besan slice for at least 3 hours (I stored mine overnight).
Pour oil in a frypan to cover the base and set it over medium-high heat. Retrieve the besan mixture from the fridge and slice it into wedges. Fry the wedges in the oil for about 3 minutes on each side, until they develop a golden crust. You may need to do this in batches and/or top up the oil as you go.
Serve the wedges warm with your favourite condiment.