Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are one of the most nutritious foods we can eat. Their culinary use is vast and today I want to share with you another wonderful use for them. These tiny legumes aren’t only for mashing into hummus or adding to soups or stews; Chickpeas are also ground into a fine powder and used just like one would any other type of flour.
In countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh this flour has long been a staple food. There it can be called either gram flour or besan, and it is also transformed into an amazing variety of foods. To make chickpea flour one uses dried chickpeas that may or may not be roasted before grinding into a fine powder. Apparently, roasting the legume before grinding yields a better flavour, whereas, not roasting can yield a slight bitterness. If you will be making your own make sure you have a very powerful tool to allow you to achieve a very fine flour.
In the previously mentioned countries, chickpea flour is used for making papadums, dosas, chilla pancake, Burmese tofu, cookies, and many more foods. Vegans love using this flour as an egg replacer. According to Hilda Jorgensen of Veganbaking.net “To replace one egg, use ¼ cup of chickpea flour and ¼ cup water or non-dairy milk.” For those with a gluten allergy, chickpea flour can easily be used in gluten-free baking. I have personally found that though it doesn’t work like regular (gluten) flours, it does work wonderfully for binding or holding it’s shape.
The use of this uber nutritious flour does not only happen in India and it’s surrounding neighbours, it’s also used across the Middle East and in Southern France and Italy. In both France and Italy chickpea flour is used for making a flat bread, which in Italy is know as farinata and in France as socca. Farinata or socca is made of chickpea flour, olive oil, water and some spices or additional flavourings may also be added. The process is quite similar but recipes can vary greatly. It doesn’t matter which recipe you choose to go with because the results are always delicious.
The first time I ever heard of or saw socca was on the kitchn’s website. They featured a scrumptious looking socca with spring pesto. I couldn’t resist the photos and set out to experiment. The traditional method of cooking socca or farinata is in the oven under the broiler setting. I choose to experiment and cook mine on the stove top — it’s not traditional but it’s what works for me, this is how I’ve been cooking socca for about one year.
- 1 cup or 160 gm chickpea flour
- large pinch of sea salt
- some ground black pepper
- ½ tsp granulated garlic
- large pinch oregano
- large pinch dried basil
- large pinch of ground cumin (saw this on David Lebovitzs recipe, it adds a slight smokiness)
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- 1 cup or 250 ml water
- additional olive oil
- fresh arugula leaves
- anchovies (I used spicy ones in chile oil)
- Mix the chickpea flour with all of the seasonings until very well combined, pour in the water and olive oil and continue mixing until there are no lumps in the batter. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or for 2 hours — I always do the 2 hours.
- Heat a large iron skillet or non-stick pan, once it’s very hot pour in plenty of oil to coat all of the pan. Pour in the batter (or if small pan pour in half of the batter) and swirl around until the batter spreads evenly. Allow to cook until it becomes firm and pulls away from the skillet’s/pan’s sides. I like to now gently flip over and allow to cook for another 5 minutes in order to brown that side. BUT if you are using an iron-skillet you may place under the broiler and continue to cook until it browns. The other, or traditional, way of cooking socca is by heating the broiler and once very hot you pour oil into a large baking dish and pour in the batter. Place under the broiler until cooked through, firm and browned. It is up to you to use the method of your choice.
- Once the socca has cooked through, place on a plate or cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Next cut and serve as is OR spread the pesto and top with your toppings of choice before serving. I like to serve a side salad and a glass of wine with our socca for a complete meal.
• The batter may be prepared a day ahead and allowed to sit in the refrigerator until ready to use.
This socca recipe is quite simple, with only a few ingredients needed, the hardest part is the waiting for the batter that needs to sit for a while before being cooked. Feel free to add your favourite toppings or eat the flatbread as is. The taste is so unique and delicious! I love it and can never get enough of socca when I prepare it. I really hope you give this a try because I consider it to be a MUST try food for everyone. Enjoy!
Additional chickpea and socca reading:
How To make chickpea flour or besan flour: http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/tipsandtechniques/ht/How-To-Make-Chickpea-Gram-Flour.htm
Farinata Genovese (Genovese Chickpea Flatbread) by Memori di Angelina http://memoriediangelina.com/2013/06/23/farinata-genovese-genovese-chickpea-flatbread/
The Kitchn’s Socca Flatbread with Spring Pesto and Salad http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-socca-flatbread-with-spring-herbs-and-greens-recipes-from-the-kitchn-187301
Super Healthy Chocolate Orange Cake with Rich Chocolate Frosting (Vegan + GF) by Love Food Eat http://www.lovefoodeat.com/super-healthy-chocolate-orange-cake-with-rich-chocolate-frosting-vegan-gf/
CHOCOLATE AND CHICKPEA CUPCAKES WITH NUTELLA AND SOUR CREAM FROSTING-GLUTEN-FREE by Lucullian Delights http://www.luculliandelights.com/2010/02/chocolate-and-chickpea-cupcakes-with-nutella-and-sour-cream-frosting-gluten-free.html