Sunday, November 3, 2013

Z is for: Za'atar Chickpea Fries

Ladies and gentlemen... I present to you:

The Original French Fry. 

Or at least that's what I'm calling them.

These fried little morsels are called "panisse" in the South of France (specifically Marseille). I don't believe I ever tried them during my travels, but like socca, they are made with chickpea flour. (I do remember eating socca in Nice with my mom, which is more like a pancake.)

Instead of potato, these fries are made with chickpea/garbanzo bean flour. 

(BTW... these are also similar to panelle, which is served in Italy as a patty or fritter and often served in a sandwich.)

























You can find chickpea or garbanzo bean flour at specialty markets or places like Whole Foods (or even online). Bob's Red Mill is a good source for these types of products. Another bonus... since it's just ground garbanzo beans, it's gluten free and high in protein! 



I bought this Za'atar spice mix at the Spice House while I was visiting my friend Kasey in Chicago last summer. I specifically bought this because it started with "Z" and I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration for my alphabet-themed food blog. For some reason though, I didn't get around to using it last time around, so I made a point to use it now.

Za'atar is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. As noted on the Spice House website: "It is often mixed with olive oil and spread on bread; sometimes this is done at the table, other times the mix is spread on the bread rounds which are then baked. Za'atar also serves as a seasoning to sprinkle on vegetables, salads, meatballs or kebabs. Much like sausage seasonings, each country has a distinctive style of Za'atar, and each family develops its own special blend."


Of course, traditional panisse recipes don't call for any seasoning beyond salt, but I thought a Mediterranean spice would go well with a Mediterranean snack, so that's how these chickpea fries came to be. (If you wanted to try making your own, this blend uses sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, hyssop, and oregano). Mix za'atar with chickpea flour.



In a medium-sized pot, heat 2 cups of water, salt and olive oil until hot, slightly before it starts boiling. Mix flour and za'atar and pour into the water in a steady stream and whisk quickly until all of the water is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. (It will be the consistency of polenta or oatmeal). Take the pot off the heat. 

A quick note... most recipes will tell you to stir "until the lumps are gone." I'm here to tell you this is not possible. It's going to be lumpy, folks. I would just aim for any big lumps to be eliminated and you'll be left with a bunch of little lumps. Which is totally fine.


IMMEDIATELY Spread mixture into prepared pan, and top with a piece of cellophane or waxed paper. The reason I just all-caps-yelled-at-you is because this is actually my second batch and I learned from my mistakes. On the first try, I was so busy trying to get the lumps out that the mixture started to cool and by the time I poured it into the pan it wouldn't spread very well. I ended up with very crumbly panisse.



Put the pan in the fridge for at least one hour (and up to 24 hours), until chilled and solid. Flip and turn out on cutting board. Gently cut the hardened mixture into rectangular pieces (however big you want your fries to be). I've seen them cut thicker in a lot of the recipes I saw online, but I decided I wanted more of a traditional french-fry look.



Technically, I guess you can bake these. I actually attempted baking them the first time around, but they were kinda dry and crumbly. I even did a few test pieces on the second batch to make sure the results weren't a product of my faulty batter in round one. They were decidedly less crumbly. They tasted fine, however, the texture was a little off and they turned a dull brown color.

Here's the truth, and I'm not telling you anything you don't know. 

Frying is better.

Not as in better for you. As in, it tastes a million times better, and you'll be left with gorgeous golden fries. You don't need a deep fryer for these, simply pour enough olive oil in the pan to get the job done. (A generous amount.... deep enough to cover half of the width of your fries). Turning them once should give you the results I'm talking about without a messy deep frying situation. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt.



I decided to do a dipping sauce for these, though I also enjoyed them plain. This was a super quick sauce, similar to tzatziki, basically using what I had on hand in the kitchen. Greek yogurt, garlic, chives, lemon juice, salt & pepper. That's it!



Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon and the dipping sauce or all alone. They are perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It was really difficult not to eat all of them in one sitting. (By the way... doesn't my pile of fries sorta look like a hashtag? #delicious).

Za'atar Chickpea Fries (Panisse)

by Jaymee Sire
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Keywords: fry appetizer snack side gluten-free vegan vegetarian chickpea garbanzo bean za'atar French

Ingredients (30 fries)
    For the fries:
    • 1 cup chickpea flour
    • 1 teaspoon Za'atar
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 teaspoon salt. plus more for seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for frying
    • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
    For the dipping sauce:
    • 6 ounces Greek yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • juice from 1/2 lemon
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    Instructions
    For the fries:
    1. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, waxed paper or aluminum foil, allowing some to hang over the edge. Mix the Za'atar with the chickpea flour.
    2. In a medium-sized pot, heat 2 cups of water, salt and olive oil until hot, slightly before it starts boiling. Slowly pour flour mixture into the water in a steady stream and whisk quickly until all of the water is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. (It will be the consistency of polenta or grits). Take the pot off the heat.
    3. Immediately spread mixture into prepared pan, and top with another piece of parchment paper. Put the pan in the fridge for at least one hour (and up to 24 hours), until chilled and solid.
    4. When ready to cook, flip pan and turn out on cutting board. Gently cut the hardened mixture into rectangular pieces (however big you want your fries to be).
    5. Heat 1/4-1/2 inch of olive oil in a skillet. When hot (a small test piece should immediately start bubbling), fry in batches, taking care not to crowd in the pan. Once the bottom is nicely browned and crisp, turn with tongs, and fry until they are deep-golden brown on each side.
    6. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels, sprinkling them with sea salt. Continue frying the rest, heating more oil in the pan as needed.
    7. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon and dipping sauce or on their own.

    For the dipping sauce:
    1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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    2 comments:

    1. Great post, but just fyi I think you meant to write tzatziki, the greek yogurt sauce, instead of tahini, the sesame paste.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. LOL. You are correct. I definitely meant that. That's what I get for blogging after a full day of work. Thanks for the catch! All fixed.

        Delete

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