Chickpeas are more floury than other beans, with a less ‘beany’ taste, and fewer unpleasant after-effects. So they make a good filler if you cannot eat wheat or potatoes. Soak them overnight, pick out any discoloured ones, and cook in a pressure cooker at 15 lb pressure for 20-25 minutes, or in the ordinary way for 1-1 1\2 hours. If you do find that they give you wind, try removing the skins — they rub off very easily. Tinned chickpeas are not expensive if you buy supermarket ‘own-brands’ [eg Sainsbury’s). Add to soups and casseroles. You can also mash them to make hoummous. Other beans and lentils are also useful fillers for those who cannot eat wheat or potatoes.

Pearl barley is sold in most large supermarkets, and in healthfood stores. Add it to stews, casseroles and soups to make them more filling. The barley needs about 1 – ? hours cooking time.

Plantains are obtainable from West Indian groceries and look like very large green bananas. They are starchy and less banana-like in flavour than one might expect. Peel them (quite difficult — needs a sharp knife) and then fry in oil, or boil and mash. They can also be baked in their skins.

Gram-flour pappadams are obtainable in some Indian groceries and can be eaten as an accompaniment to a meal. Check that they do not contain wheat flour. This is a traditional Indian recipe for gram-flour bread: mix two cups of gram flour with a small finely chopped onion, ? teaspoon cumin seeds, ? teaspoon salt and a pinch of chilli powder. Rub in 1 tablespoon of clarified butter. Add a little water — enough to make a stiff doughy mixture. Take small balls of this and press down lightly with your hand on a floured surface. Fry on a griddle or hot plate, turning once.


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