"If at first you don't succeed, do it the way your mother told you to." -- Author Unknown

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Poora - chickpea flour pancakes

What do you make when you have a guest who is both vegan and follows a gluten-free diet? And you don't have a lot of time? The answer is simple - you make poora! These chickpea flour pancakes are a North Indian staple, easy to make, high in protein and fiber, and delicious. Chickpea flour is available in specialty and fancy food stores, but is far cheaper in Indian grocery stores, where it is labeled "Besan".
1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt – adjust to taste
About ½ tsp cayenne pepper powder – adjust to taste
About 1 1/2 - 2 cups water (you may not need all of it)
Toppings – chopped scallions, cilantro, tomatoes, red peppers, sour cream/ goat cheese/ Greek yogurt, chutneys, etc.
Canola oil or butter for making the pancakes
  • Sift together the besan, turmeric, cumin, salt, and cayenne. Slowly add water and mix to a smooth paste to get all the lumps out. Then, add more water and mix until it forms a thin pancake-batter like consistency.· Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes
  • Heat a saucepan and melt a little butter in it or swirl a teaspoon or so of canola oil. – the pancakes can be a bit dry since the batter doesn’t have any eggs or fat in it, so don’t skimp on this part!
  • Make the poora exactly the same way you would make a pancake or crepe – flipping once to cook on both sides. From experience, they turn out better if you use a non-stick pan or a cast-iron griddle (tava). It will take some practice to figure out the correct heat setting and timing for your stove/ pan. I typically cook them on medium-high heat, about 2-3 mins per side.
  • Serve topped with finely chopped herbs/ scallions, your favorite chutney, or with a side of yogurt or cucumber raita. Or you can also use it as a crepe and fill it with creamed spinach, sautéed vegetables, etc. One of my favorite ways to serve this is as a crepe, with sauteed spinach and feta cheese
  • Variations: add any or all of these into the batter before cooking: ½ of an onion, a 1” piece ginger, peeled and grated, one chile pepper, finely minced, grated carrots.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Baba Ghanouj with red peppers

I love baba ghanouj, that creamy and smoky eggplant (aubergine for you Euro-types) dip served in most Mediterranean restaurants. But it had always seemed a little too ambitious for me to try and make it myself - until recently, when we were grilling some other veggies and I had two fat glossy eggplants in the fridge and some sweet red peppers from a local farmer.... as always, I took creative license with the recipe I had. And it turned out wonderfully! I don't think I'll ever buy pre-made baba ghanouj again!
I poked the eggplants with a fork a few times to vent, then rubbed the eggplants with good-quality olive oil. I roasted them on the grill, turning occassionally, until the skins were charred and the eggplant was soft - this took about 25 - 30 minutes. I rubbed the red peppers with olive oil and roasted them about 15 minutes. I also roasted a whole head of garlic with the skins on. When the veggies were cool enough to handle, I rubbed and peeled the skin off using my fingers.
  • Chop the eggplant flesh coarsely and put in a big bowl. Mash the flesh with a fork until desired consistency. (You can also puree in food processor but I was too lazy to get mine out! Plus I liked the chunky texture of hand-mashed baba ghanouj)
  • Add 1/3 cup tahini, juice from one lemon, about 1/2 teasp salt, and lots of fresh ground black pepper.
  • Chop the red pepper finely; add it and 2 cloves of roasted garlic to the mixture and stir.
  • Drizzle some olive oil on top before serving.
Here's my yummy Mediterranean platter that I had for dinner with some grilled pita bread. Clockwise from top: Baba ghanouj with roasted red pepper, kalamata olives, sauteed spinach, feta cheese, and chopped tomatoes.