Originating in south-east Turkey, chickpeas have become an integral part of the cuisine in Asia, the Middle East and a few areas in Europe. While whole dried chickpeas are the most common form used in the Middle East, India and Iran also process it into chickpea flour. This ingredient has also found its way to Liguria in Italy and parts of provincial France where it is incorporated into foods such as thin rustic pan bread. Traditionally it is baked in wood ovens, where high heat tinges the edges with a characteristic burnt smokiness, difficult to mimic in regular kitchens. The Italian farinata and the French socca, are usually made with regular unroasted chickpea flour which is pale yellow in color.
In India this flour is often made by first slightly roasting the chickpeas, creating flour known as besan, garbanzo or gram flour. The texture and flavor of chickpea flour changes when it is roasted and although similar, these two types of flours are not always interchangeable. Both are high in protein, dietary fiber and folate, an important part of a balanced vegetarian diet.
Roasted chickpea flour is preferred for making gondi, a traditional Persian dumpling made with a hint of cardamom and served in rich turmeric colored broth. Used in place of kneidlach, these dense and chewy dumplings are gluten free and an exotic addition to classic chicken soup. It can also be used in place of bread crumbs or flour in a variety of other meatballs which lends a lovely nutty flavor to the dish.
Although I read that falafel can be made with chickpea flour, in the Middle East it is usually made from dried chickpeas that are soaked and then ground to a sand-like consistency. In Israel chickpea flour is used mostly by the Indian and Persian communities to make traditional dishes like gondi, pakoras, cookies and flat breads.
This recipe is from Iranian cooking by Gideon Kalimian. It is often garnished with boiled carrots and whole chickpeas.
150 roasted chickpea flour without salt, coarsely ground
1/2 kg ground chicken breast
2 onions, grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 vegetable oil
4 teaspoons rosewater
About 8 cups of chicken soup using your favorite recipe. This is my basic recipe:
I usually use an entire chicken, cut into eight or more pieces which I cover with water. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to barely a simmer (vigorous boiling will cloud the soup). Remove scum with a slotted spoon. After about 1 1/2 hours add the vegetables; a few whole peeled carrots, an onion and a couple of celery sticks. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, salt and a teaspoon of turmeric (saffron can also be used here, a pinch is enough). Simmer, gently for another hour or until the vegetables are soft but not disintegrating. Strain the soup.
For the dumplings
Combine all the ingredients except for the chicken soup and mix well, kneading with your hands. Traditionally the mixture is rolled into a tennis size ball but I like smaller dumplings, the size of ping pongs. Bowling ball size are too big.
Add the meatballs to the soup and let them simmer for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through.
Here is Miriam Kresh’s Gondi Recipe
And if you have not already, please enjoy my silly Barilla video.
Mediterranean Vegetables: A Cook’s ABC of Vegetables and Their Preparation By Clifford A. Wright