It’s late Autumn, and although we have some beautiful days – a long lingering warm Autumn – the evenings can be cool. Winter is not yet poking its head around the corner but we are all aware that it is coming. Winter doonas are on the bed. The warm coats, PJs and dressing gowns are released from their Summer storage. Throw rugs are ready for snuggling up on the couch as we sip warm drinks or cups of soup in the evenings.
Chickpea Flour Pancakes are just perfect for evening meals – topped with any imaginable toppings, from curries to sautés to Wintery salads. Just a note of warning, these are not like wheat-flour based pancakes or crepes, quite different in flavour and texture in fact. But so delicious and full of protein.
These pancakes are made around the world with little twists depending on the region. They range from the Dosa, Cheela and Pudla of India to Socca and Farinata in France and Italy, to a variety of the French Panisse. In Gibraltar, there is the Calentita, in Spain, the Caliantetorta, and in Algeria and Morocco it’s the Calentica (or Kalantika). Various places can call it Karanteta, Karantita, Guarantita or Garantita.
There are yeasted versions, egg based versions, baked ones and pan-cooked ones. Toppings for the pancakes are endless. They can be studded with roasted red bell pepper, fennel, salty olives and fresh herbs. Or topped with pesto and creamy ricotta cheese. Spread with caramelised onions or fennel jam, toasted cumin seeds and a harissa-tossed mix of salad leaves. Spread with a tahini-eggplant puree and topped a wild rice and walnut salad. Or just a drizzle of herb oil will do for an afternoon snack. I love to use the pancakes like a soft tortilla, wrapped around the filling.
What is Chickpea Flour?
Chickpea Flour goes by various names – besan, gram flour or garbanzo bean flour. It is easily found in Indian groceries
The Key to Successful Pan-cooked Pancakes
The key to making these pancakes is to get the thickness right — too thick and the results are dense and pasty, too thin, it becomes fragile, dull and dry. Make them thinner, somewhere between a crepe and a pancake.
Spreading the Pancake
I find the easiest way is to use an Indian metal ladle (available from Indian shops), which delivers just the right amount of batter for a medium sized pancake, with the added bonus that the bottom of the ladle is useful for spreading the batter. Apply the base of the ladle gently to the batter in the pan and, moving in a smooth circular motion, spread the batter evenly until the desired size and thickness is reached.
Alternatively ensure that your batter is thin enough to spread as you tilt the pan.
Chickpea Flour Pancakes | Egg Free
1.5 cups chickpea flour
4 Tblspn oil
1 tspn cumin powder
salt and black pepper
Mix the flour, cumin powder, salt and a grind of pepper in a bowl. Add the oil and a little water and mix until combined. Keep adding water until a flowing batter similar to a crepe batter is obtained. Beat well, and set aside for 2 hours to allow the chickpea flour to absorb the oil and water. This improves flavour and texture.
Heat your pan over medium heat and oil lightly. Beat the batter again with a whisk or wooden spoon. Using a jug or ladle, pour in about 3 Tblspn or so of the batter and swirl (see above) to form a beautifully round and thinnish pancake. Not so thin you can see through it. Cook until the underside has a nice golden-brown colour, then flip and cook the other side.
Plate and keep warm as you cook the remaining pancakes. Top as desired and serve.
Left-over batter? No worries, put it in the fridge and use it tomorrow after bringing to room temperature. They make great breakfast alternatives too.
Suggested Topping – Eggplant Puree and Wild Rice Salad
I love to top mine with black on black on black.
Make your favourite eggplant puree by roasting eggplants, peeling and mashing the flesh with tahini, garlic, lemon and oil. Set aside.
Black or Red Wild Rice Salad
Cook some wild rice until tender. While the rice is cooking, pulse walnuts in your blender or processor until finely ground but not paste. Chop cherry tomatoes, small zucchinis, salad leaves and/or soft herbs. Make a dressing with oil, runny honey and lemon juice.
When the rice is cooked, drain and cool slightly. Mix the rice with the walnuts, tomatoes, zucchinis, herbs and leaves, and the dressing. Set aside.
Sauté chopped onion in a pan with olive oil until soft then add 1cm cubes of eggplant. Cook until browned and achingly tender. Add pinenuts and sauté long enough for them to toast but not burn. Remove from the heat and add a handful of chopped parsley.
(Feel free to add some red or green chilli, chopped, or chilli paste to the eggplant just as it is almost cooked.)
Place 1 – 3 pancakes, depending on size, on a plate and spread with the puree, then the rice salad and finally the sautéed eggplant. A dollop of yoghurt or squeeze of lemon can be added. Wrap the pancakes around the filling and eat with your fingers, or use the pancakes as a flat bread, breaking off pieces and using to scoop up the topping. Or simply use a knife and fork.
I rarely take photos any more – so some images are from unsplash