By the time the end of the workweek roles around the two of us are often too tired to do much of anything other than eat dinner, relax, go for a walk, and then go to bed. This Friday night we decided to spice it up and head down to Whyte Ave for a short walk and a trip to Chapter’s to browse the bookshelves.
Lucky for me EPC wanted to head over to Planet Organic to pick up a snack from the deli. That meant we could also pop into Greenwood’s Bookstore (they have a much better vegetarian cookbook selection than the Whyte Ave Chapter’s, at least in my opinion). Tonight turned out to be my lucky night!
At Greenwood’s I found a copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking discounted 50%! The front cover was slightly creased at the corner, but other than that it was completely intact. This cookbook gets such favourable reviews that I had been contemplating picking it up for a few months now, but figured I really could not justify buying yet another cookbook. However, at 50% off how could I refuse? I was so excited with my new discount purchase that I decided to make Sunday’s dinner from its pages.
While flipping through the Beans and Dried Peas section and I came across an intriguing dish the likes of which I have never seen before. Madhur coins it a Savory Chickpea Flour Quiche, but take a look at the recipe.
Cook the chickpea flour with onions and seasonings, pour into pan, cool, cut and serve. The instructions read like polenta, not so unfamiliar after all, so I figure this dish can be coined polenta with an eastern flair.
It turned out fantastic. EPC and both loved it. I served it alongside Rasam, which Madhur describes as a tomato, tamarind and dal broth. This sour spicy soup is one of my favourite South Indian dishes. Although I really enjoyed the soup, I think that next time I make the Besan (and there will be a next time -it was delicious and not much work at all) I will serve a vegetable curry or two on the side instead.
2 1/2 cups of chickpea flour sifted
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 -1 teaspoon of cayenne
1 medium onion, sliced in half and then into fine half rings
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 dried curry leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 hot chili, seeded and minced
1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
- Put the sifted chickpea flour in bowl. Slowly add 4 1/2 cups of water, breaking up the lumps as you go. When all the water has been added, pour the batter through a fine mesh sieve to remove all the lumps.
- Combine the garlic ginger, cumin, turmeric and cayenne in a small cup with 1/4 cup of water. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a heavy 2 1/2 quart pot (I used an enameled Dutch oven) over medium heat.
- Add the curry leaves and stir. Then add the onions.
- Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, until softened, but not brown.
- Add the spices in the cup with the water and stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Add the chickpea flour mixture into the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Turn the heat to medium low and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pot. This should take about 20 minutes
- Add the salt and lemon juice and mix well.
- Put the mixture into a 9 X 9 cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Sprinkle the cilantro, chilies, and coconut and let cool.
- Slice into 16 squares.