Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce

I first made this stew after I kept seeing blog posts about shakshuka, which is a dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. I’ve never actually had shakshuka but I tried to imagine a vegan version, and whenever I think egg replacement I think chickpea flour. Of course these dumplings are nothing like eggs — and you definitely wouldn’t want to undercook them to dip your toast in the middle — but I liked this stew so much that I decided to share the recipe anyway. I’ll have to look for vegan shakshuka elsewhere (Terry Hope Romero has a recipe I’d love to try!).

I’ve made several versions of the sauce (some with just onions and peppers and another with quartered cherry tomatoes added in), so if you’re not an aubergine/eggplant fan you can just leave it out. If you’re like me and spicy food makes you cry, don’t be a hero; just take the seeds out of the chillies. Maybe we’ll get there someday.

I’ve written the recipe the way I prepare it, which is by adding the vegetables to the pan as I’m chopping them, but if you like mise en place of course you can chop everything in advance. I think it makes for a good one-pot meal on its own, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to some fresh bread on the side.

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers and aubergine in tomato sauce

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, quartered and sliced
1 medium aubergine/eggplant (or a handful of smaller ones), quartered and sliced 1/2 cm (1/5 inch) thick
3-4 yellow bell peppers, in 2-cm (1-inch) pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 red chillies, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika is great, sweet paprika is cheap; I use a mix of both)
500 g (about 2 cups) passata (smooth tomato sauce)
Fresh coriander/cilantro and/or parsley (optional)

For the dumplings:
100 grams (about 3/4 cup, packed) chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
about 75 ml (5 tablespoons) water

1. Place a large frying pan or sauté pan over low to medium heat and add in the olive oil. Quarter and slice the onion and add it to the pan. Keep stirring occasionally as you add the other vegetables.

2. Depending on the size of your aubergine, halve or quarter it and cut it into 1/2-cm (1/5-inch) slices. Add it to pan with the onion. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, roughly chop them, and mix them into the onions en aubergine. Mince the garlic and thinly slice the chilli (removing the seeds if you want to), then add both of those to the pan as well.

3. Add the cumin, paprika, and tomato passata to the frying pan, stir to coat the vegetables, turn the heat up, and cover the pan to bring it to a simmer while you make the dumpling batter.

4. To make the dumplings, mix together the chickpea flour, salt, baking powder, and oregano in a small mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and mix in the water a little at a time, starting with a few tablespoons and mixing until smooth — I find that this helps to prevent lumps. The batter should be thick but quite smooth.

5. Once the sauce in the frying pan has come to the boil, turn the heat down to low and add in the dumplings by dropping teaspoon-sized blobs of the batter all over the sauce. Put the lid back on the pan and let it simmer until the vegetables are soft and the dumplings are cooked; I’ve found this can take 10-20 minutes depending on the tightness of the lid. When you press on a dumpling with your finger, the surface should spring back; if it just forms an indentation, you should let it cook for a bit longer.

6. Ladle the sauce and dumplings into bowls, sprinkle it with fresh herbs (if using) and serve it on its own or with bread.

Chickpea flour dumplings with yellow peppers in tomato sauce

Chickpea flour pancakes with cumin and fresh coriander

(Nederlandstalige versie)

Chickpea flour pancakes

Chickpea flour is one of my favourite ingredients because it’s so convenient for quick, filling meals that don’t require many other ingredients. A while back, one of my favourite simple one-serving meals was a kind of mini quiche made from chickpea batter with herbs and cubed vegetables. I made this a couple times a week, until one time I took the batter out of the oven too early so the inside was still undercooked. After one bite of raw chickpea flour I was done with those quiches for a while. I don’t know how something so delicious can taste so vile with only a few minutes’ difference in cooking time. Anyway, since then I’ve switched to thinner pancakes for a while. There’s definitely no raw chickpea flavour in these!

I like to have these pancakes for lunch (the ones in the picture are rolled up with hummus and carrot spread) but they also make a good side dish with a curry. They taste best fresh from the pan when the edges are still crispy, but you can also eat them cold or briefly reheat them in a frying pan.

Chickpea flour pancakes with cumin and fresh coriander (makes 6 pancakes)

1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more to cook the pancakes, if needed)
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 cup chickpea flour
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro

Toast the cumin seeds in the olive oil in a (preferably non-stick) frying pan over low heat until the seeds become fragrant and slightly darker in colour. This step brings out the cumin flavour while also ensuring that the pan is hot enough by the time you start cooking the pancakes. Meanwhile, make the batter (but keep an eye on the cumin so that it doesn’t burn take the pan off the heat in time).

In a bowl or large measuring cup, mix together the chickpea flour, salt, and turmeric. Add the water, a little at a time, and stir to form a smooth batter. The cumin seeds should be ready by now; pour them into the batter along with the oil and stir to combine. Finally, stir in the fresh coriander/cilantro.

Make sure the frying pan is coated with a thin layer of olive oil — add a little extra if necessary — and return the pan to medium heat. Scoop about ¼ cup of batter into the middle of the frying pan and tilt the pan to spread it out. Wait until the pancake is completely dry on top and you can easily slide a spatula underneath (1-2 minutes), then flip it. Cook the pancake for at least another minute on the other side (longer if you want crispy pancakes) and repeat this for the rest of the batter. Add extra olive oil to the pan inbetween pancakes if necessary (I like to use a spray bottle).

Roasted carrot spread

Here I was thinking I was making up my own spread recipe until I went to write down the ingredients and realised I had almost exactly made the Curried Carrot Dip from Veganomicon but with roasted carrots instead of boiled ones. In case you’re still curious, this was my version:

Preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F). Place three sliced carrots (about 230 g), one thickly sliced red onion, and three unpeeled cloves of garlic in an oven dish and mix with olive oil, curry powder, and salt. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the vegetables with a large handful (about 1/4 cup?) of sunflower seeds. Return the dish to the oven for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the sunflower seeds are slightly toasted.

Let everything cool for a bit, remove the skins from the garlic, add a tablespoon of lemon juice and puree everything in a food processor or blender to form a spread that’s more or less smooth. Add salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice to taste.