Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crispy Paneer and Lime Pickle


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crispy Paneer and Lime Pickle

My discovery of Indian food many years ago had an enormous effect on my kitchen, transforming the way I cook and the way I eat. The variety of ingredients — pulses, vegetables, spices and seeds — is without doubt nutritionally beneficial to vegetarians, but it was the array of flavors and techniques in Indian cuisine that really captured my imagination.

Among my favorite Indian foods — and something I always order on the rare occasion when eating out at an Indian restaurant — are savory flatbreads, paneer cheese, and Indian pickles. Indian cooks are wonderfully creative when it comes to flatbreads, using a variety of different flours and seasonings to come up with countless textures — light or substantial — and flavors. Paneer cheese is creamy and delectable, holds its shape when cooked or fried, and absorbs the flavors of the spices or seasonings in which it's cooked — I always keep a few blocks in the freezer for when the temptation strikes.

But it's the mustard-cured pickles that might have been the greatest revelation. Completely unlike pickles in North American or European traditions, Indian pickles brined in mustard oil with a pungent blend of mustard seeds, spices, salt and vinegar — known as "achar" — are unbelievably vibrant and bursting with sour and spicy flavor. If you've never tried them, you must the next chance you get at an Indian restaurant or when shopping at an Indian grocer where they are always available in jars — mangoes, chilies, limes and mixed are the most commonly found. But be careful not to eat too big a mouthful on your first try — they are very potent and do take a bit of getting used to for many. After a little while, you might find it an essential way to finish off an Indian meal.

Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Paneer and Lime Pickle

This recipe combines the best of all of these worlds — spicy chickpea flour pancakes are covered with cubes of paneer cheese that are fried in Indian lime pickles and garnished with chopped fresh cilantro and dill. It's a very simple dish to make, and has all the flavor that a devotee of Indian food could wish for. It makes for a great lunch or light dinner at any time of year, and you'll want to make it again and again.
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Blackberry Chia Jam Breakfast Bars

Blackberry Chia Jam Breakfast Bars

My breakfasts most often consist of oats or other rolled grains soaked overnight in plain whole fat yogurt in the muesli tradition and then topped with fresh or dried berries — it's a very healthy and filling way to start the day. But there are times when I like to prepare something a little different ahead of time but without sacrificing nourishment or convenience. So I often will make pans of breakfast bars filled not just with oats but also with nuts, seeds, and fruit.

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Hummus Bread {Gluten-free, Vegan}

Hummus Bread

Made with hummus and tahini added to the dough, this is one of the most captivating breads I have made for quite a while, and it's quite filling too even though it is a fairly light bread. The flavors of hummus and tahini don't overwhelm the taste of the bread but add the lovely Middle Eastern savor of chickpeas and sesame. It is very easy to make, is yeast-free, and does not require a lot of kneading, and once it is cool, one slice is quite substantial. Its earthy flavor is nicely enhanced with butter and a sprinkle of mixed seeds, and the bread toasts well too. I believe that this bread will become a staple in my kitchen.

I haven't been making gluten-free breads for very long, but the more I experiment, the more I enjoy the gluten-free baking experience even though I do not have an intolerance to gluten myself. I used a combination of sorghum, buckwheat and brown rice flours in this loaf, but it should work well with any gluten-free grain flour. The leavening comes from baking powder and baking salt instead of yeast.

Gluten-Free Hummus Bread

For this recipe, I made a batch of hummus with za'atar, but any basic hummus recipe will do, and it is a great way to use up any leftover hummus. The za'atar can easily be left out of the hummus recipe, though I did add some for some extra flavor because this bread is open to a multitude of seasonings.

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Fudgy Chickpea Tahini Brownies {Vegan}

Fudgy Tahini Brownies

I usually resist labeling a recipe as "best-ever", but I am tempted to say that these really are the best-ever fudgy brownies I have made to date — which is a tall order, considering how many tempting brownies recipes I have made over the years. And they take little time at all either — really a fuss-free fudge.

Sweetened only with dates and a small amount of maple syrup, the perhaps surprising ingredient is cooked chickpeas, but the blended chickpeas are what give these brownies a delightfully creamy texture that it just the right density — not too heavy and not too light, with just a little extra bite from dried cherries. And it doesn't hurt that the chickpeas give you an additional boost of protein too. Tahini is another ingredient that I have found works wonders in desserts not only to bind ingredients but also to add the distinctive earthy and nutty flavor of sesame. And the only flour used in these brownies is almond flour, making them gluten-free as well as vegan.

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