I love legumes of all shapes, colors, and sizes, but if I had to play favorites, it is the chickpea I would single out as the cutest (right?) and the most incredibly versatile.
I love it in my vegetables, in my salads, and in my soups, in my hummus and in my baked falafel (I'll be sharing a recipe soon), in my Nice-style socca and in my socca tarts (recipe in my upcoming cookbook!).
But my latest, fondest use for the pale yellow, nutty, slightly smoky flour that is ground from dried chickpeas, is this: a simple crêpe batter flavored with cumin that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, with 100% pantry items.
The resulting golden crêpes (which happen to be gluten-free if that matters to you) are flavorful and nutritious, and can be used in various ways: you can fill them like classic savory crêpes, with whatever ingredients you have on hand; you can garnish them with the spread of your choice, roll them up, and slice them into bite-size vortex rounds; and you can serve them as a side, to dab at the juices of a vegetable curry.
In the photo above, I spread the crêpes first with tahini sauce, then with a dollop of mashed beets -- the remnants of a purée I'd made for Milan before deciding beets were way too messy when an 8-month-old is manning the spoon -- and a scatter of chopped hazelnuts. It was very, very good.
A nice variation on the process I've outlined below is to sprinkle the crêpes with chopped herbs (chives, cilantro), or seeds (sesame, cumin, fennel), or very finely minced or shredded vegetables (scallions, carrots) just after pouring the batter into the skillet, so they're effectively studded with those ingredients, which looks and tastes lovely.
And next time, I plan to leave the batter out to ferment at room temperature -- presumably just until bubbles start to form -- to see how the flavor and texture are altered.
Are you a chickpea fan yourself? In what recipes do you like to use chickpea flour?
Cumin Chickpea Crêpes
- 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces, about 2 cups) chickpea flour (available at natural foods stores or Middle-Eastern and Indian markets, also marketed as gram flour, garbanzo flour, or besan)
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Oil for cooking
Makes a dozen 20-cm (8-inch) crêpes
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cumin. Pour in 500 ml (2 cups) fresh water in a slow stream, whisking constantly to avoid the formation of lumps. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Remove the batter from the fridge and whisk it again. Set a thick-bottomed, low-rimmed skillet over high heat. Wait until it is very hot, enough to make a drop of water sizzle. Dip a folded paper towel in a ramekin that contains a little oil, and wipe it over the pan to grease it lightly (watch your fingers).
Ladle a little batter in the pan, just enough to cover the pan thinly, and swish the pan around in a slow circular motion so the batter forms a round disk. Cook for a minute, or until the edges start to turn golden and pull slightly away from the sides. Run the tip of a hard spatula around the crêpe to loosen -- if it resists, give it a few more seconds' cooking -- and flip the crêpe when you see that it is nice and golden underneath. Cook for 30 seconds on the other side, or until golden as well. Grease the skillet again every two or three crêpes.
Serve the crêpes from the skillet as you make them, or keep warm in a 60°C (140°F) oven.
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