Monday, October 24, 2016

Three ingredient chickpea flour flatbread a la three cultures

Chilla chillin' on a plate
There's a lot to like about chickpea flour. It is much higher in protein and fiber and lower in carbs than flour. It's also gluten free. But I think my favorite part about it is that it makes delicious flatbread with just three ingredients and no leavener!

The interesting thing is that separate cuisines in the Mediterranean and India have created their own versions of this flatbread. Indian chilla or pudla is somewhere between naan and a crepe, and it's my favorite chickpea flour application. It's what I usually dip in my curries because I can't be bothered to make or have on hand naan. It would also make a great gluten-free wrap. Socca (from France) and farinata (Italy) are thicker, sturdier, oven-baked flatbreads, often infused with copious amounts of olive oil and herbs. If I want a quick and healthy pizza dough, I'll make a farinata-style flatbread in a cast-iron pan, and then top with my favorite pizza toppings.

Chickpea flour is also called besan or gram flour (NOT graham flour). You can find it at any Indian grocery store for a pittance, and I've noticed more grocery and high-end stores selling it in the natural foods section.

Chilla (Indian crepe)
1/2 cup chickpea flour
pinch of salt (1/8 t)
seasoning of choice, optional (I like a pinch of garlic powder)
shy 1/2 cup water (I heard that warm water works best, so I just use warm tap water)
2 t butter

Mix together dry ingredients in a cup or bowl. Add water slowly, mixing to ensure there are no lumps. Add enough water to make a very loose pancake batter. Let stand for 5 minutes, if you have time. It seems to come out fine if you use the batter immediately, too. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and melt butter. Pour all batter and swirl around so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan. Cook for a few minutes, pulling up an edge occasionally to check for browning. Once it is golden brown, flip the entire pancake with a big spatula. Cook on other side until golden brown. Makes one large chilla, which serves one or two, depending on how hungry you are!

Farinata or Socca (oven-baked flatbread, great as a pizza crust)
3/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 t salt
seasonings of choice, optional (I like 1/4 t garlic powder and 1/4 Italian seasoning or rosemary
shy 3/4 cup water
1 T olive oil

Mix together dry ingredients in a cup or bowl. Add water slowly, mixing to ensure there are no lumps. Add half of the olive oil and enough water to make a very loose pancake batter. Let stand for 5 minutes to 2 hours, if you have time. It seems to come out fine if you use the batter immediately, too. Heat oven to 450 and place a large cast iron skillet inside to preheat. Remove from oven, oil skillet. Pour in batter and swirl around so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan. If using as pizza crust, cook about 7 minutes, until set. Add pizza toppings and return to oven until toppings are cooked. If eating plain, allow the farinata to cook a bit longer, until golden brown.

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