There can’t be a more versatile ingredient than the chickpea – whole, crushed, blitzed or ground; soaked, cooked, dried or tinned. But it is when they are dried and ground that the excitement really begins. Chickpea flour (also known as Bengal gram, gram flour and besan flour) forms the basis of some of my favourite comfort food.
Chickpea flour is used by cuisines from France through to India (from Socca in France to Farinata in Italy, to Iranian gondi dumplings, to pudla in India, for example), an beyond that as well. It is a versatile cooking medium, even lending itself to batters for deep frying vegetables and other snacks. There are also cardamom flavoured biscuits, pistachio studded fudge, sev noodle snacks, delightful yoghurt curries, In India its use is ubiquitous, and Italy seems to have a wonderful understanding of its properties too. This nutty-flavoured flour has grabbed the attention of cuisines around the world .
This recipe is made with a simple dough of chickpea flour and water, topped with tomatoes, onions and olives, and then baked. Some people like it cooked until it is crisp. I like to make it a little thicker and leave the centre a little soft. It is delicious.
A Pomarolo to use with the Farinata
We also have a mean pizza recipe, which uses a home made pomarolo, or tomato sauce. The sauce is simple, but awesome. I Autumn it is made in bulk and frozen, but it is also easy to make in small batches. Alternatively, it can be purchased from any supermarket or corner store.
Topping the farinata with the pomarolo makes a wonderful chickpea flour based “pizza”. I hope you like it.
Chickpea Flour Farinata “Pizza”
Prep time: 35 mins including resting time for batter
Cooking time: 25 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
1 cup chickpea flour / gram flour / besan
1.25 cups water
0.5 tspn salt
large pinch black pepper
3 Tblspn virgin olive oil
3 – 4 Tblspns pomarolo – Italian tomato pizza sauce
3 tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, chopped finely
dried mixed herbs
Beat the flour, water, pepper and salt together until they are well mixed and there are no lumps in the batter. Cover, and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
Heat the oven to 225C.
Mix the diced tomatoes and onions.
Choose an oven-proof pan with sides at least several cm tall. For example, a glass pie dish is perfect. Add the olive oil, and then pour in the batter.
Drizzle the pomarolo lightly over the batter and then top lightly with the mixed tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle with the mixed herbs, place in the oven and cook for 20 -25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before slicing.