Saturday, March 20, 2010


Best Blog Tips

I love chickpeas and chickpea flour. One of the tastiest, cheapest, easiest snacks (or sides) in the world is an ancient recipe from Southern Italy, called panelle or panelle di ceci (panelli or paneddi in Sicily). They are also popular in Southern France, where they are known as panisse. They are basically a street snack, often eaten inside of a bread or roll.  The recipe is of Arabic origin, which makes sense when you think of the origins of chickpeas and the influence of Arabic cooking on Southern Italian cooking.

Wouldn't it be great if this kind of a snack became popular here in North America as a "takeout" snack instead of "popcorn chicken"? Well, we can dream! Upscale restaurants have been serving these, but that's not really where they belong. They are so easy to make and so delicious, and so open to different seasonings that they would make great street cart food.

In the meantime, make them at home. They are basically chickpea flour (besan in Indian stores) and water, with a few seasonings. My version is pan-fried, but with much less oil than usual. They still have a nice crust and the lovely olive oil flavor.

Printable Recipe

Double or triple this if you like.

2 cups water
1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
smoked paprika
crushed garlic
dried red chili flakes
chopped Italian parsley
chopped fresh herbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
lemon wedges for squeezing
vegan mayonnaise with some vegan pesto whipped into it
vegan aioli (garlic mayonnaise)
a good, simple homemade tomato sauce
Romesco sauce (this is Spanish, not Italian, but yummy)

Oil an 8" square pan lightly with olive oil and set aside.

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the chickpea flour so that it doesn't form lumps. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the oil, salt and pepper. Cool for another minute or so, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens.

Spread the hot mixture evenly in the oiled pan, smoothing the top. Refrigerate until the mixture is solid.

Loosen the edges and turn the square out onto a cutting surface.

Slice the square into 16 "fingers".

Heat the last tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Brown the "fingers" in the last 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high to medium heat until browned on both sides. Sprinkle with salt, if you wish (or other seasoning of choice) and serve. Best hot, but even good cold.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
148.7 calories; 49% calories from fat; 8.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 487.3mg sodium; 194.6mg potassium; 13.3g carbohydrates; 2.5g fiber; 2.5g sugar; 10.8g net carbs; 5.1g protein; 3.2 points.



Lou said...

Bryanna, you're a mind reader! I was searching for alternatives to tofu earlier, (my stomach doesn't seem to like soy any more), and I found this: which seems like a more complicated version of your recipe here. On a related note, have you ever experimented with making a 'tofu' from peanut milk or any other type of beans/nuts?

Lou in Sligo :)

Flax Seed Meal said...

Great idea - i didn't know you could get Chick Pea Flour! - I am one of these people who don't do well with wheat flour and it is tricky to get/make snacks that aren't wheat or wheat free bread over and over again....!

Quite high in sodium i think - why is that because the ingredients don't say to add any - but anyway, if using for a snack occasionally then it is hardly going to be much of a challenge to our bodies:)

Possibly could add some flax seed meal in with it to get some essential fatty acids and a slightly different taste.

Kalyn Denny said...

I just had something very similar to this at a restaurant in SF called Frances, and they were fantastic. Saving your recipe to give it a try!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Lou, this might work as a kind of "tofu", but you might want to use a little less water and salt and make it a little firmer. I haven't experimented with making tofu out of other milks, although I inadvertently made a kind of curd out of hemp milk once (see: )
It only made a very small amount, however, and therein lies the problem with non-soy milks-- they don't have enough protein to make a product like tofu or dairy cheese.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Flax Seed Meal: I don't know where you live, but I can easily find chickpea flour in my small shopping town here on Vancouver Island-- both in supermarkets in the Indian foods section, or in the health food store. But you can purchase it online from a number of venues.

The recipe does have salt in it, but you can lower the amount to your taste. And, yes, I will try adding some ground golden flax next time-- good idea!

Lou said...

Thanks for taking the time to respond Bryanna, I know you're busy at the moment. I didn't know that about the protein you've likely saved me a lot of googling :)

Virginie P. said...

I love the Panisses. In France it is popular ony localy. In South East France, you will find them in supermarkets, while in even know about them. In Corsica, they can also put them in stews, which is less fatty. I didn't know about their Arabic origin, thanks.

Lovlie said...

What a great recipe! I'm sure they can be used in salads and a lot more once fried. Yummy!

Patty said...

Yum these chickpea fries sound so good I'm going to go try to make them now, wish me luck!

Janet said...

Y-U-M that is the coolest thing I've seen in a while!

Rio said...

I made this and wanted to like it.

But, it tasted like eggs and had the same texture, even the colour as the flour is kinda yellow. I didn't let it cool all the way after but cut and fried it up as soon as it set as I was eager. Perhaps that made a difference?

But, I'm thinking of whizzing some in the blender and pour directly into a frying pan with some fried veggies for an omlette. I bet that would work and be very close to the real thing.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Rio, I don't think you let it set enough for this particular dish.

But no need to cook this and then blend it. There is already an easy Indian chickpea "omelet' recipe on this blog here:

Isabella said...

Very interesting!
I never heard before about panelle! And I spent every vacation and holiday in Sicily with my family. Must be popular in the more "arabic" region around Palermo.

Kat said...

I made this recipe last night, it was delicious! I can see endless possibilities with different spice mixtures. Thank you for sharing!

Mother Rimmy said...

I have to try these! They look like a lot of fun!

Abby Bean said...

I wonder if you could add crushed chick-peas to the "batter"?

Beth said...

these chick pea fries look delicious!

Zoa said...

I made this, and it was great! I've been making chickpea flour omelets for years, and this was similar, but kewl in a different way. The wonderful golden crispiness of the fried sticks on *all four sides*, ooh! I put little pieces of green onion and some chopped garlic in mine, yum.

Unknown said...

I just made this an it turned into a big pile of sludge. I let the mix cool for a good couple of hours and it seemed solid but as soon as I started cooking it, it 'melted'. Very disappointing. What did I do wrong?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Tamzen, I honestly can't imagine what happened. Could you have been sold pea flour instead of chickpea flour or something?

The Compassionate Hedonist said...

Amazing!! I love these...

Big and Tall Mens Clothing said...

I love all of your makes it so much easier to actually work with the dough. I also appreciate the nutrition facts...keep up the good work!

italian kitchen decor said...

I like the Italian feel in this post! I love to make its.

Maija Haavisto said...

I had the same problem as Tamzen and I know what I'm using is 100% chickpea flour (besan). Originally I was worried you couldn't mix the chickpea flour into the boiling liquid without lumps, but I tried. It did fail, however - the result was very lumpy despite vigorous whisking, so I threw it away and started anew, only now I mixed the chickpea flour with the water while it was still cold and then boiled it until it had thickened.

I let the thickened chickpea sludge cool completely, then sliced it and started cooking it, but it just started to melt and I ended up with a mess - an edible mess, mind you, but still more like a crossover between porridge and an omelet.

I suspect the mixture may have been too wet (e.g. not enough chickpea flour), though I did follow the measurements in the recipe. Perhaps some chickpea flours require less liquid than others?

I hope I could get this to work, as the taste was alright. I was worried it would taste too "beany", as chickpea flour does when raw (I made the farina from Nonna's Italian Kitchen and it tasted a bit too beany, while this didn't).

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Maija, I'm now wondering whether some chickpea flours contain more starch than others do. They could vary, just like wheat flour varies in gluten and starch content. If so, you could use less liquid with your flour.

Vegan Digest said...

I made these over the weekend with Swad brand gram flour and they tuned out delicious. I did decrease the water amount to get the right consistency. Thanks for the great recipe, which is featured as Vegan Digest's Recipe of the Day today.

oliverslay said...

Thanks.. I had made this once and have been looking for the recipe...

I have been looking at various vegan foods around the world.. including different types of vegan jellies and tofus..

Bettina said...

Bryanna, these look amazing!

This also gives me the opportunity to ask one question that's been bugging me for years. People always seem to tell folks to use one tablespoon of oil to pan fry a whole lot of food. In my experience, one T does not begin to be enough. I have tried all different heat settings, adding the oil to a hot pan, to a cold pan, you name it . . . I always end up adding more. Now things always taste great, but I do wish I could eliminate some of the oil along with its calories. Can you shed light on this dilemma? What am I doing wrong?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Bettina, you can use a nonstick pan, or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or a hard-anodized skillet, but the secret is to use medium-high heat, not high heat. I discovered this with my Breast of Tofu. If you use lots of oil you can brown things quickly on High. If you use less oil, turn the heat down a bit and let them brown more slowly. I let the pan get hot on High, add the oil, turn it down and add the food. If it isn't crispy enough, you can always stick them in a hot oven for a few minutes, or under a broiler (watch it carefully!).