ForksOverKnives.com, the website of the 2011 documentary, piqued my interest a few months ago with a recipe for “Chickpea Omelet.” No, it’s not lumpy with garbanzos. The dish is a savory thick pancake using flour ground from the bean.
The chickpea flour sometimes is found in the gluten-free section of supermarkets or natural food stores, but it always has a shelf spot in Indian or other Asian groceries. There it’s also known as gram or besan flour. It has earned a spot in my pantry.
Nor can the beans sit still with just two names, as they’re also known as chana or ceci.
I’d been missing frittatas and omelets since going vegan in spring 2013. Scrambled tofu doesn’t appeal. (I am a 95 percent vegan — rarely, I’ll order huevos rancheros at a TexMex cafe, and I never interrogate any host on whether their cookies or cakes contain milk and eggs because they likely will.)
This recipe and similar ones have a common problem — it tends to be dry. My experiments have found two remedies. The first is to serve the entree with green tomatillo salsa. Or (vegan) mayo. The second is to make the batter on the thick side so the middle will stay moist; this implies I prefer a 1/2- to 1-inch thick frittata — cut into squares or wedges — instead of a folded thin omelet.
Here is my adaption of the FoK recipe. The first fix is that it’s halved in quantity. My recipe is perfect for two people. It will fill a medium (10-inch) skillet. I’ve kept fiddling: A picture here shows how I cooked it in the center of a large (12-inch) skillet so I could add farmer’s market bok choy around it.
You can flavor any which way. The Seasonings section has suggestions. I always use nutritional yeast, then either the Italian spice blend or curry. Yes, once my garden’s basil grows bushy, it will be my sole herb – a loosely filled half-cup or more roughly chopped, mixed into the batter.
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1 Tablespoon powdered egg replacer OR ground flaxseed
- 2-4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt OR 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon baking powder OR baking soda
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup quick-cooking vegetables cut in a small dice (zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, green onion, as examples), about 4 oz.
- 1-3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, panko or matzo meal (the Jewish panko)
- Oil for skillet
- Green or red salsa and/or vegan mayo as sauces at the table
Suggested seasonings (use one or a few but NOT all):
- 1-2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hing (asafoetida) powder
- Pinch of chipotle powder or 1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce
In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, optional egg replacer/flax, baking powder (soda), salt, pepper, turmeric and chosen spices. Stir in the water. Let sit to thicken 5-10 minutes while cutting vegetables. Add vegetables to bowl. Add breadcrumbs or meal 1 tablespoon at a time to make the batter the consistency of a thick milkshake.
Grease a 10- or 12-inch skillet and preheat on medium for 4 minutes.
Spoon or pour the batter into the pan. Cook about 6 minutes. Turn and cook the second side about 6 minutes. The frittata until cooked long enough will stick, so be patient. Putting a lid on the skillet is optional.
Cut into 4-6 pieces. Serves two. Fruit and toast on the side makes the brunch.
The vegan frittata is excellent as a leftover, served warm or room temperature, and makes a great sandwich.
The optional egg replacer or flaxseed can add body to the batter.
Instead of adding raw, soft vegetables to the batter, already cooked fibrous veggies such as broccoli works well; less seasoning may be appropriate.
The batter makes a faux falafel: Spoon out about six scoops of batter arrayed across a large (12-inch) skillet, greased. Fry as above, but they may need a minute less cooking on each side.
April 2020 Update: The Crepe or Dosa Version
Inspired by the Sunday brunch menu of Khana Indian Grill in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I’ve turned this recipe into a version of dosa, a south Indian crepe. Make the batter as above but skip stirring in the vegetables and breadcrumb/panko. The veggie mix now will be the filling added to two dosas, at the end. There’s no need for the crumbs.
Increase the mixed vegetables to 2 cups; including in it some cooked rice or cubed potato is nice. The mixture should warmed before use.
Prepare the batter as above, minus veggies and panko. Allow to thicken for a few minutes as before. Add a little water by the tablespoon so the batter has the consistency of a well-melted milkshake. It will be about 1 cup. For convenience, pour half the batter into another measuring cup or small bowl.
Heat a medium (10-inch) non-stick skillet on medium. Swirl 1 teaspoon oil to coat. Pour in one of the portions of batter and QUICKLY rotate with the handle so the batter covers the bottom. Cook 3 minutes. The top of the dosa will dry from the outside in and darken reddish. When a wide spatula can slide under the dosa without tearing, flip and cook another 2 minutes. Remove dosa to a plate. Cook the second dosa as above, starting with coating the pan with a teaspoon of oil.
Turn off the heat but leave the skillet on the burner. Place the second dosa atop the first. Put about 1 cup of the warmed vegetable mix on the top dosa and fold the pancake over that in half or thirds. Carefully with spatula and fingers place it on the skillet, then fill the bottom dosa and move it to the other half of the pan to rewarm a bit.
Serve each dosa with salsa or chutney.
August 2020 Update: Ugandan Rolex
From when I saw “Meera Sodha’s Vegan Recipe for Ugandan Rolex” in August 2020, Sodha being the London Guardian’s vegan columnist, this is the chickpea eggy dish I’ve made. The others are still in my lineup, but this is my go-to.
It’s a wrap, in short. Rolex refers not to the watchmaker but a portmanteau of “rolled eggs,” a street vendor item in central Africa and elsewhere. Made with eggs in a crepe-shaped scramble but apparently often enough with a plant-protein batter. It goes atop a similarly sized flatbread like a tortilla then some grilled veggies in the middle, rolled before wrapped in paper or foil for the customer.
My adaptation makes four rolexes, serving two with only one side or four people with several sides, like fruit and salad or cup of soup. This is a thin batter compared to the above recipes, similar to that for crepes and cooked that way, more or less, as well.
- 1/2 cup chickpea (gram) flour
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon diced minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- Dash cayenne pepper flakes or chipotle powder
- 1 cup water
- 4 6-inch (small) tortillas, corn or wheat
- 2-3 cups variety chopped or sliced vegetables perhaps including bell pepper, mushroom, tomatoes, zucchini
- Salsa, picante or similar spicy condiment
- Mix the batter’s dry ingredients (up to the water) in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in water, taking care to dissolve lumps.
- Heat medium (10-inch) nonstick skillet on medium. As the dry pan heats, heat in it the tortillas 30-60 seconds to soften, placing them on a small plate and covering with another small plate, inverted, to keep warm.
- Heat a small (8-inch) nonstick skillet on medium, adding a little oil only if needed (if the nonstick coating is not trusted).
- Sauté vegetables in the medium (10-inch) skillet, using a little oil only if needed, about 5 minutes. Turn off the burner and leave the mixture in the skillet to keep warm.
- Stir the batter. Using a quarter-cup measure, all at once pour 1/4 cup of it to the hot small (8-inch) skillet, tilting quickly to cover the pan’s bottom evenly. Cook like a pancake for 2-3 minutes, then with a spatula loosen, lift and flip. Cook 1 minute on the other side. Remove to a plate.
- Cook the remaining three 1/4 cup portions as in Step 5, placing when done on their plate.
- To assemble, place a tortilla on a plate or other surface, place the rolex on it then some of the veggie mix in the middle. Roll in a tube (not with ends folded in like a burrito). Optionally cut the roll in the middle. Serve immediately.
- The batter in Step 1 can be used immediately, allowed to rest a few minutes, or covered and stored in the refrigerator to use in a day or two.
- Rolex would be good with plain unsweetened yogurt instead of the salsa, nondairy or otherwise.