Besan Curry (Chickpea Fritters in Curry)

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


The Jains of India have an ethic of non-violence; they are such strict vegetarians that they will not eat onions or garlic, lest these roots harbor tiny insects that they might harm. But that does not mean that their dishes are not indulgent. This Jain-style curry pairs airy chickpea fritters with a creamy, tangy sauce of yogurt flavored with pungent spices such as cumin, asafoetida, and mustard seeds. It was given to us by Neelan Jain, a home cook from Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh. This recipe first appeared in our August/September 2014 special India issue with Betsy Andrews' story Good Karma.


  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1 14 cups besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 12 tsp. asafoetida
  • 12 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 12 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 12 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 12 tsp. white poppy seeds
  • 2 cups plain, full-fat yogurt
  • Kosher salt, to taste


Step 1

Heat 2" oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Stir 1 cup chickpea flour and 1 cup water in a bowl to make a batter. Working in batches, fry tablespoon-size amounts of batter until puffed, 4–6 minutes; transfer fritters to paper towels. Discard all but 3 tbsp. oil from pan; return to medium-high. Cook cumin seeds, asafoetida, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, and poppy seeds until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Whisk remaining flour, the yogurt, salt, and 3 cups water in a bowl; add to pan, along with fritters. Cook until thickened, 15–20 minutes.

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