Monday, May 4, 2009

Meatless Monday: Chickpeas Three Ways

The truth is, all of my days are meatless and the vast majority of them are fish-less, but with 27 days of blogging still ahead of me, I thought an organizing principle, at least for one day a week, couldn't hurt.

Being both a (mostly) vegetarian and a person who spends time in India, I've eaten many (many) chickpeas in my day. It's not often, though, that I find myself eating them three different ways in one week, as I did recently. I love how versatile they are and how you can make things with them that have nothing in common except for the chickpeas.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Shallots and Red Wine Vinaigrette

This was one of the very first recipes I made from Orangette, and after one bite, I knew that it (and the site) was a keeper. It's easy and quick to make (half an hour, tops), doesn't have a ton of ingredients in it and tastes fabulous. The shallot gives it zing, the carrot gives it sweetness, the olive oil and red wine vinegar make it pleasingly moist, and the chickpeas provide a solid base for the rest. It's also adaptable. You can add some shaved parmesan, for example, or some tuna. I added tuna the last time I made it and it reminded me of a dish I used to make when I lived in Delhi and was feeling peaked--"protein salad," consisting of chickpeas, red onion, olive oil, and tuna.( The tuna came from the Lakshadweep Islands, which I adored, especially since I never heard anything about the Lakshadweep Islands otherwise.) It was, I now realize, a cruder version of this very salad.

You start with the shallots and garlic sitting in the vinegar to mellow:

Then add grated carrot, olive oil, parsley and the chickpeas:

Season to taste, and that's it.

It may not be the prettiest dish you'll ever make, but man is it good. It's lovely warm and equally good cold the next day. And given that Molly got the recipe from Lynne Rosetto Kaspar who, in turn, got it from someone else, it's well-traveled and well-tested. Of course, it would still be delicious without the pedigree, but it's nice to know it has a lot of fans.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Shallots and Red Wine Vinaigrette
From Molly Wizenberg at Orangette, adapted from The Splendid Table Weeknight Kitchen, which in turn excerpted it from Fresh Food Fast: Delicious, Seasonal Vegetarian Meals in Under an Hour

1 large shallot, thinly sliced
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
½ cup flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the shallot, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the shallots and garlic to mellow.

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the chickpeas, and blanch for a minute or two. Drain.

Add the carrot, parsley, and olive oil to the shallot mixture. Toss in the chickpeas, and season as needed with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, while still warm.

Serves four.

Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez's Chana Punjabi

I saw this recipe in the Wednesday food section of the NY Times a month or two back, and I hoped against hope that these chickpeas might even faintly resemble the chickpeas I adore beyond measure that are served at my beloved Bengali Sweet House in Bengali Market in Delhi:

(When I was there in January, I nearly got a shot of the enormous vat of the blessed chickpeas themselves, but I couldn't get an unobstructed view, and I felt a little bit self-conscious to be snapping away in a crowded restaurant.)

The sad news is that these chickpeas do not resemble the beloved ones from Delhi. The good news is that they're good in a different way--tangy and savory and satisfying. And now that
I know that Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez runs a little Indian take-out place in NYC called Lassi, it gives me yet another Indian food destination next time I'm down there.

Luisa over at The Wednesday Chef has written an excellent post on these chickpeas, so I'm going to direct you over there for the recipe: Chana Punjabi

Chickpea Crepes

Technically speaking, these crepes are made with besan--chickpea flour--rather than chickpeas themselves. Still, they are chickpea-related, so I thought they would count for this post

I found the recipe in the Washington Post's daily food blog, A Mighty Appetite, (The recipe was under their Meatless Monday category.), but it is taken from a brand new cookbook by Monica Bhide called Modern Spice. I know Monica ( in an internet sort of way) and know that she's a lovely writer and also a fabulous Indian cook, so I had no doubt that these crepes would be good. They did require a trip to the Asian grocery store--for the besan and some of the spices (and for cheap cilantro)--but it was totally worth it. Because I decided to make these sort of at the last minute, I didn't have time to make the potatoes mentioned in the article. Instead, we ate these just with plain yogurt, also from the Asian grocery store. (It's called Desi Natural Dahi, and it's the closest thing to the kind of yogurt you get in India that I've found here.) These were also quick to make and spicy and savory and a bit crispy and a bit soft all at once. I put the leftover batter in the fridge and finished it up the next day, and they were just as good the second time around. I'm looking forward to making them again, with the potatoes, this time, or a fried egg, as Kim O'Donnel talks about, or maybe just with yogurt again, except with my very own yogurt.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. More about the yogurt tomorrow.

For now, Monica Bhide's Addictive Chickpea Crepes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi from a fellow May blog-a-thon participant!

I enjoyed your chickpea musings on tastes and locations.