3/4 cup chickpea flour (also known as besan and as gram flour; available at some regular grocery stores, at Indian grocers, and on Amazon.com)
1/2 cup water
1 sweet potato (Shivani recommends organic), peel on, rinsed
1 bread slice (Shivani recommends vegan or sprouted bread)
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. red chili powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
~2 Tbsp. olive oil
You'll Also Need:
mixing bowl, whisk, deep skillet or karahi, tongs, paper towels for blotting
3. Pour the olive oil into the skillet or karahi, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat on a low-medium to medium flame.
Serves 4 as an appetizer.
The AHH Factor: You know how panko is so trendy? Any recipe that calls for breadcrumbs is suddenly being reinvented with these Japanese breadcrumbs to lighten its texture. Well, as much as I love panko (and I love it a lot), now that I've cooked with chickpea flour, I am Team Chickpea Flour. I so want it to be the next big thing in the category.
I can't speak for what makes panko so great (except for its texture), but I know what I love about chickpea flour. First is the smell. As soon as the pakoras were in the skillet for all of about 60 seconds, the nutty smell filled our kitchen. It reminded me of when my mom would make all sorts of bhajas (fried foods) when I was growing up. I always sort of wondered how she got that smell, since I sometimes coat items in regular flour and never noticed any smell resembling it, but now I realize it's straight-up coming from the besan (what chickpea flour is usually referred to as in Indian culture). I think I could have made these pakoras without any of the seasonings, and Nick and I still would have gobbled them up just because of the flavor of the chickpea flour. Second, it has impressive nutritional stats compared to other flours, including sizable amounts of protein, fiber, and iron. Third, it's even gluten free. What's not to love?
Pakoras are traditionally deep fried. When my friend Shivani Agarwal posted a photo on her Facebook page captioned "healthy pakoras", I had to ask her about them. Turns out she uses olive oil for the frying, commenting "pakoras don't soak up olive oil as much as other oils." She also uses organic vegetables. (She used regular potatoes to make hers, but since I'm not a fan of those, I substituted sweet potatoes. You can use any vegetables you like.)
I'm not sure how much olive oil she uses, but I thought shallow frying instead of deep frying would be a great way to safely use the oil. Olive oil has lower smoke and flame points than the oils typically used to make pakoras, so I didn't want to risk deep frying it and having it burst into flames. (If you insist on deep frying these, I'd recommend canola oil, which can withstand more heat than olive.) I still blotted them off at the end, though there wasn't much excess oil to remove.
Now off to make more recipes for Team Chickpea Flour.
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