chickpea fries with tahini yogurt dipping sauce

chickpeafries

One thing I am: a hummus hound.  I can’t get enough of this creamy, luscious snack.  It’s easy, hearty, and comes in a variety of flavors.  Most times I make my own hummus because it’s super simple and you can tailor it to your own taste buds (I add extra lemon and harissa to mine.)  For me the equation had always been: chickpeas=hummus…until I went to Peacefood Cafe in NYC and tried their chickpea fries.  I fell in love that day.  Seriously, they are divine.  Warm, light, and filled with the perfect blend of Indian spices, these delicate chickpea fries are served with a cool dipping sauce that perfectly balances the warm, subtle spice of the fries.

My eyes were opened that day to the versatility of chickpeas.  Chickpeas are great as soup thickeners, added to salads, stewed in Indian spices, and even simply fried on their own and sprinkled with paprika for an on-the-go crunchy snack.  And in this case, they can be turned into flour and used to make a healthier alternative to regular ol’ potato fries.

garbanzojargarbanzopile

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, have long been valued for their fiber content.  Two cups provide your entire daily value!  Between 65-75% of the fiber found in garbanzo beans is insoluble fiber, and this type of fiber remains undigested all the way down to the final segment of your large intestine (colon). Recent studies have shown that garbanzo bean fiber can be metabolized by bacteria in the colon to produce relatively large amounts of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including acetic, propionic, and butyric acid. These SCFAs provide fuel to the cells that line your intestinal wall. By supporting the energy needs of our intestinal cells, the SCFAs made from garbanzo fibers can help lower your risk of colon problems, including your risk of colon cancer. [1]

Garbanzo beans are high in protein and iron.  One cup of garbanzo beans provides 26% of your daily iron and 29% of your daily protein value.  The high protein and fiber content of these beans makes for better regulation of blood sugar.  These two nutrients have an amazing ability to help stabilize the flow of food through our digestive tract and prevent the breakdown of food from taking place too quickly or too slowly.

These legumes also have a unique supply of antioxidants that play a key role in lowering heart disease.  One of its many minerals, manganese, is a key antioxidant in the energy-producing mitochondria found inside most cells. One cup of garbanzo beans offers 84% of your daily value of manganese! This is especially important since the majority of Americans are deficient in this essential mineral.

garbfloursideview

Garbanzo flour (also known as gram flour) is used all around the world.  In India, chickpeas and gram flour are a staple of the diet.  Chickpea fritters, or panelle, is an ancient Sicilian recipe and still a common street food in Southern Italy.  In Southeast France chickpea fries are called panisse, and are sold at beach-side vendors.

You can make your own chickpea flour by running dried garbanzo beans in a food processor until they become as powdery and fine as flour.  Or you can do what I did and buy it pre-made.  I prefer Bob’s Red Mill brand, which you can find at natural foods stores and most supermarkets.

Garbanzo flour’s flavor is non-offensive, making it an excellent flour for gluten-free baking. However, this can mean bland fries if left on its own so be sure to take advantage of your spices & seasoning.  If you are having a hard time choosing a spice to add to the mix, think about what you like in your hummus, since this dish incorporates all the same basic ingredients [lemon, olive oil, chick peas, tahini, garlic.]  My favorites are cumin or harissa.  Other options include smoked paprika, cayenne, or chopped fresh herbs like rosemary or flat-leaf parsley.

Important note: don’t skimp on the sauce.  Don’t get me wrong, the fries are divine but most times aren’t fries just a utensil for the condiment?

Chickpea Fries with Tahini Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Serves 4

Chickpea fries:

1 cup garbanzo bean flour

2 cups water

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

minced garlic (amount depends on how garlicky you like your fries)

spice/herb of your choice (smoked paprika, cumin, harissa, fresh rosemary or flat-leaf parsley)

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Add 1 cup garbanzo bean flour and two cups cold water to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Start whisking.

2. Allow the mixture to come to a boil.  Whisk constantly for about one minute until mixture resembles polenta.  Make it fairly thick but not dry. (This process happens very quickly so the second you see it turn polenta-like, take it off the burner.)

3. Stir in one tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and spice/herb of your choice.

4. Spread mixture on a nonstick or oiled surface (I used a cookie sheet) and cover with waxed paper or plastic.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

*Time saving tidbit: You can make the mixture the night before and take it out right before cutting, frying, and serving.

5. When you’re ready, cut into shapes (rectangles, half moons, peace signs, whatever your creative heart desires.)

6. Shallow-fry in olive oil until crisp.  You can make them pale or dark.  I like mine paler so that they are slightly crisp on the outside but have a custard-like consistency on the inside.

7.  Place on a paper towel-lined plate and top with a little more salt, pepper, and minced garlic.

Taste profile: crisp, light, creamy, custardy, warm, subtle spice.

Tahini Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup sesame tahini

1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1/2 of a lemon

Directions:

1. Mix ingredients until smooth and a palish-tan color.

Taste profile: cool, creamy, smooth, slightly nutty.

*I don’t usually measure my sauce.  I play around with the quantities until it tastes good to me.  Most recipes call for more yogurt than tahini but I like tahini to be the stronger note in my sauce.  I leave it up to you and your taste buds, my dear foodies.

Cheers,

Sarah D.

Sources: [1] whfoods.org

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