Fries made of chickpea flour. Did I even know there was such a thing as chickpea flour? No, I did not. But I do love a chickpea so I felt compelled to try these out right away.
I was reading one of my favorite food blogs by Mark "The Minimalist" Bittman yesterday on the New York Times website and I stumbled across his ode to the chickpea fry, apparently easily found in France and Italy. Always looking for new ways to use chickpeas, I ran out to the Indian grocery down the street (easy to do in Northeast Minneapolis!) where I found myself face to face with about a thousand different kind of flours. I never knew they made flour out of half of the things I saw there, and it was quite overwhelming. After eying up fifty pound sacks of rice and vegetables I'd never heard of, I found the chickpea flour right next to the gram flour (whatever that is). I got in line with lots of Indian folks with great accents and paid $2.99 for two pounds of flour, a bargain at twice the price I'm sure.
Chickpea fries couldn't be easier to make, it starts out like preparing polenta. I whisked the chickpea flour with water in a saucepan over medium heat and added some salt and olive oil. At first it seemed super liquid-y and I was worried that I'd done something wrong, but as it heated up it thickened into a porridge. All I did after that was pat the dough down on an oiled cookie sheet and chilled it for a couple of hours. Then came the tough part, for me anyway. I have never really successfully fried anything, and I'm not sure I did tonight. I think I put too much olive oil in the pan and then turned the heat up too high. After I cut the chilled dough into strips about one inch by three inches, I added a few of them to the hot oil. They immediately began frying, and also smoking. Soon my tiny home was filled with a haze that the vent above my stove couldn't handle. I opened the window and, thankfully, it wasn't bad enough to set off the smoke alarm, but it was annoying and made Hakeem spend a lot of time sniffing the air. I fried the dough on both sides for just a short time till they turned brown and then transferred them to a paper towel-lined plate where I dusted them with kosher salt. I only made four of them so as to prevent a visit from the fire department tonight, and because I have a fear of frying. I'm going to try to fry more of the dough tomorrow in less oil and at a lower heat to see if that makes a difference, although I tend to believe that almost any kind of frying short of frying an egg is not meant to be done in 689 square feet of home.
When the fries had cooled enough, I took a bite. The texture was excellent, crispy on the outside and tender creamy on the inside. There is a taste of chickpea, but not overpoweringly so. It's more like an earthy French fry. It was a little bland, so I mixed up a quick dip in the form of light mayonnaise blended with a little Nando's Chickenland Hot Peri-Peri Sauce from one of my favorite cities in the world, London. Nando's is a little chain of Portuguese chicken restaurants that I think is regarded there as kind of silly, but by which I am enchanted. Roasted chicken truly makes me swoon. The simple dip was perfect for the fries, and I'm thinking for a turkey sandwich in the future as well. I think some simple additions to the dough before cooking would be great, too, like garlic or herbs or more salt than I mixed in. It's also possible that a bigger house and even a tiny bit of knowledge about how to fry food would be helpful. I'll keep trying.