Have you ever wondered how a certain dish can bear similarities, not just in various regions of one country but all over the world? One time I was going to make some instant Dhoklas-(a steamed fluffy bread made of chick pea flour/besan), and I realized I had no citric acid/fruit salt, without which the instant Dhokla was not going to happen. But I did mix in some onions, hot peppers, tomatoes, spice and herbs and made a crepe out of the chick pea batter. This version is also called a “Vegetarian Omlette” or “Chila” in some parts of India.
I have this 10 years old well seasoned skillet. No its not a non stick, it is a cast iron skillet. And chick pea is a very versatile legume. The chick pea batter could also be cooked in this skillet to make Farinata – The Ligurian chickpea flatbread . Aren’t they about the same thing? Chila or Farinata … all of them are savory crepe like snacks made of chick pea flour. Farinatas are actually thicker than crepes, thinner than pancakes, and are cooked in wood-burning ovens and sold in slices, streetside, like pizza in the northwestern part of Italy. It might be seasoned with a little rosemary or sage or topped with onion.
Out came my chick pea flour again. No rosemary… I will do it with a twist I thought. I added some cilantro/coriander chutney, topped it with onion, tomatoes, Black pepper and more fresh cilantro and walla! it was one the most gorgeous looking & best tasting snacks ever!!
This is going to the Event-Sunday Snacks
Here is how I made it:
- 1 cup chick pea flour/besan
- 1.5 cups of tepid water
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil to mix with chick pea batter
- kosher salt
- 2 Tomatoes sliced
- 1 Onion thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro/coriander
- 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil for the skillet
- Freshly & Roughly crushed Black peppercorns
- Well seasoned cast iron skillet
For the Coriander/Cilantro Chutney:
- 1 cup of chopped cilantro leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin/jeera seeds
- 2 green chilies
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Preparing the Chutney:
Blend all ingredients for the chutney in the blender in pureed consistency. Add little water if it gets too thick. This can be store in the refrigerator for a few days.
Preaparing the Farinata:
Mix the water and the flour with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps, add salt and mix again. It should have the consistency of a crepe batter. Let it sit for atleast 4 hours( Or even better overnight. I waited overnight).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 1 tablespoon of Olive oil in the skillet, swirl it around to coat the pan, and put it in the oven for it to heat up.
Now time to look at the batter. If any foam has surfaced on the chickpea batter, remove with a spoon. Add 2 tablespoons of Cilantro/Coriander chutney and 2 tablespoon of oil to the chickpea mix, and stir. Slice tomatoes, and onions and chop the fresh cilantro/coriander leaves.
At this point divide all the ingredients in to 2 halves unless you have 2 skillets which can go in the oven. The farinatas needs to be done one at a time.
Take out the skillet from the oven and pour half of the batter in the skillet and turn it around quickly so it is evenly spread out in the pan. It should be about an eighth of an inch thick. Top it with Tomato and Onion slices and chopped cilantro/coriander leaves.
Put it back in the center of the oven and reduce the temperature to about 375 degree F, and bake for about 20 -25 minutes till the sides/edge start to brown slightly. The center should be toothpick clean.
Out came the skillet
Remove carefully with a spatula, and sprinkle plenty of pepper. Cut in to wedges and serve tepid.
While you enjoy this one, prepare the other half and put it in the oven for another round!
Note:The pan should be perfectly flat, and leveled when placed in the oven, otherwise one of the corners will be thicker and will be undercooked when the opposite corner starts to darken.
Also, if you want the farinatas crispy like a cracker, just add less batter in the pan.