Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Curried Vegetables over Chickpea Pancakes

Savannah has a new South Indian vegetarian restaurant! Dear Daughter and I visited there just a couple of weeks ago and loved it! Tonight, I decided to replicate my dinner which was a pancake made from chickpea flour and studded with onions and veggies and chopped fresh cilantro, with delicious curried vegetables and chick peas in a tomato sauce to put over the pancake.

The chickpea flour is difficult to find here, but my handy dandy Vitamix came to my rescue - I just ground up dried chickpeas into flour in about 90 seconds. How did I live without a Vitamix? Once that was done, I was able to put the pancake batter together and let it sit to thicken while I got the veggies sauteed and simmering in the crushed tomatoes. Once the veggies were going, I covered them and let them simmer without any further interference from me, and cooked the pancakes.

The curried veggies were very tasty, but the star of the meal is the chickpea flour pancakes, or Pudla. These were so fantastic - both dd and I absolutely love them. We've already thought up different combinations of veggies and spices to try, and different ways to serve them. We both want to make a number of pancakes, with their crunches edges and creamy innards, cut them into triangle slices, and serve them as an appetizer. They were THAT good - just eat them plain......

Really, give these a try, even if you don't like chickpeas, or they sound strange to you. You will be amazed at how delicious they are!

South Indian Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Pudla)
5 oz by weight chickpea flour, sifted (called Besan in an Indian store)
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 small onion, minced
5 - 6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs very finely chopped fresh cilantro
9 oz water
2 inch piece of ginger, minced (optional)
2 - 4 jalapenos, minced (optional AND fiery!)
If not using jalapenos, add more cayenne to taste

Put the chickpea flour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add 9 oz water, stirring to make a smooth batter. Stir in all the rest of the ingredients and let sit to thicken for 15 minutes. Using a wide non-stick frying pan with 1 tsp of vegetable oil, or a good spray of Pam, heat over medium heat till very hot. When water sizzles on the pan, give the batter a quick stir and then pour 1/4 cup of the batter in the pan, tilting the pan in all directions the way that you do for crepes, spreading the batter to make a pancake about a 7 inch pancake. Let it cook till medium to darkly golden on the bottom, at 3 minutes, and then flip it for another minute. Remove from heat and keep warm while you make the rest of the pancakes. Be sure to stir the batter EVERY time right before you ladle the batter into the pan.

Notes: This makes about a half-dozen pancakes. The batter can be covered and refrigerated if you don't want to make all the pancakes at once. Just stir well, check for consistency, and then cook away. But once you taste the first pancake, you will want to just keep eating and eating, so there won't be any leftovers. At least there weren't any in our house!

DD says this is one of the best dishes I've ever made in my entire life. I guess that means 5+ stars!

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