What can’t you do with kadalai maav? Let me think. Maybe you can’t blow up the house; although it’s so gassy, you can probably find a way. You can’t build a house… no, wait! they do add it to stabilized mud blocks. You can’t drink it, except that you can. According to Wikipedia, roasted chickpea flour was used as a substitute for coffee in WW I. And there are various drinks made with it in various parts of India, including payasam and sattu sharbat. Ok, you can’t build a boat with it. Probably. You can’t ride to work on it. At the moment, anyway. Who knows, it may power your tractor or your sky-scooter one day. You can probably think of a few other things you can’t do with kadalai maav. But now let’s get to what you can.
To the uninitiated, kadalai maav is besan or chickpea flour, made from the seeds of Cicer arietinum, a leguminous plant. Kadalai maav/ besan is made from unprocessed chickpeas, usually the desi or black channa. Sattu is a variant made from roasted chickpeas, which is not covered in the following uses.
Ten uses of kadalai maav/ besan
- Eat. You can make a million delicious dishes with it, from the sinful fried bajji and pakoda to juicy steamed dhokla. Also add to gravies, sambars and kadhis, parathas and dosas, to make everything richer, tastier and more nutritious. Tip: always add half a teaspoonful of baking powder per cupful of kadalai maav to tone down its exuberance. If you get my drift. Omum or ajwain is also usually used as flavouring plus defusing agent. And yes, you can make an omelet without breaking eggs; you just need kadalai maav!
- Feed dog. Most dogs love kadalai maav (Topshe is an exception). Just roast some, then sprinkle a little water and stir for a minute or two so it makes small clumps. Add a spot of salt and/or jaggery, and a bit of coconut oil. A quick, easy and delicious snack for your four-legged baby.
- Bathe. Best-in-class face wash (add a squeeze of lemon juice for oily and acne-prone skin) and body scrub! Babies in south India are traditionally bathed with kadalai maav, sometimes with a little green moong flour added for its superior exfoliating property. Like this: Mix it with water to a thin paste, slather all over and wash off.
- Shampoo. You wouldn’t believe it; I didn’t. I thought the flour would stick to my hair and my scalp and make me itch. But, having emotionally blackmailed my hubby into using it instead of shampoo, I thought in all conscience I should try it too. Even if I have somewhat more hair than he does. And I was thrilled to find it really leaves my hair clean and soft. No build-up either. My scalp feels very comfortable, it’s actually better than shikakai, which stings a bit. I have used shikakai most of my life, except for brief flirtations with shampoo; but now I think I’ll completely switch over to kadalai maav. And the best part is, I need to wash my hair only once a week. Again, a squeeze of lemon juice helps keep dandruff at bay.
- Shampoo dog. Our dog sheds enough hair to make twenty new dogs a year. I’ve tried everything to make it stop, from oatmeal to various oils, baking powder and ACV. The latest experiment is kadalai maav. I’m not sure if it will do the trick, but it’s still a natural, nice-smelling shampoo that Topshe finds amusing. See how fuzzy and happy she is.
- Mop up grease. When you have an oil spill or just a greasy counter, sprinkle some kadalai maav, rub it over the grease, and scrape off. Hey, maybe they should try this when there’s an oil spill in the ocean.
- Wash dishes. As mentioned above, it cuts grease. So add it to your dishwash mix. Mine consists of shikakai powder, wood ash, lemon rind powder, aritha or soapnut powder, chigare leaf powder, and of course kadalai maav.
- Feed plants. Stands to reason, it’s a legume. Most traditional plant sprays like Panchagavya and Jeevamruth, used as both plant food and to discourage pests, have kadalai maav as an ingredient.
- Substitute for talcum powder. Like cornstarch and rice powder, which were traditionally used to absorb sweat and grease, this is a healthy natural option.
- Depilate. I can’t personally vouch for this, but it’s traditionally used for removing facial hair. See how, here.
The best part of using kadalai maav for all these things is that it’s not only effective; it’s plastic free, natural, and if you get it from the right place, organic. If you can’t get organic kadalai maav locally, it’s well worth the trouble of buying a couple of kilos of bengal gram dal from your organic shop, and getting it ground at a mill. It will keep for two or three months. Remember to take it to the mill in a much bigger dabba than the dal occupies. It will double in volume when it’s ground.
Do you have any other uses for this miracle flour? Please add them in the comments, I would love to hear from you!