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Gram Flour


Joy
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I can't remember whose recipe we use. I want to say Patrcia Wells from The Food Lover's Guide toi France. Can that be right? Anyway, we must have a dozen recipes in the house including Joanna Weir. None of them are particularly fancy. Chickpea flour and water.

The toppings for little socca pancakes are endless. French cheese with tomatoes and basil are terrific. It's the consistancy of the socca that's tricky. When you get it in France, it is cooked in a wood burning oven and the bottonm of the socca is slightly charred and the edges are burnt. Hard to approximate that at home in the oven. Maybe if I use a pizza stone. But that's no good because the batter will run off the sides.

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If you flip through the Coleman Andrews or Fred Plotkin books on Riviera cuisine, it's remarkable how similar the cuisines are, dishes often just seperated by a name. There is even an Italian equivelent for Bouillabaise, the name of which is escaping me for the moment.

Do you mean buridda, which Plotkin compares to bourride? He also has a Ligurian recipe for a fish soup called ciuppin, a much simpler version of San Francisco cioppino.

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I can't remember whose recipe we use. I want to say Patrcia Wells from The Food Lover's Guide toi France. Can that be right? Anyway, we must have a dozen recipes in the house including Joanna Weir. None of them are particularly fancy. Chickpea flour and water.

The toppings for little socca pancakes are endless. French cheese with tomatoes and basil are terrific. It's the consistancy of the socca that's tricky. When you get it in France, it is cooked in a wood burning oven and the bottonm of the socca is slightly charred and the edges are burnt. Hard to approximate that at home in the oven. Maybe if I use a pizza stone. But that's no good because the batter will run off the sides.

Joanna Weir's recipe uses quite a bit of olive oil. I cook them in shallow, oiled cake pans in hot oven and try to put in only a thin layer of batter. The amount of oil she calls for gives them a nice layered texture.

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You mean farinata which is what I believe it is called in Italy. The food of Liguria is very much similar to the food of Nice. A few big distinctions I can put my finger on. Much greater reliance on meat in France. I can't think of the Italian equivelent of daube or a poulet Nicoise. But Liguria has things based on chestnut flour like trophie. Actually, I think you need to get to Genoa before you find trophie. If you flip through the Coleman Andrews or Fred Plotkin books on Riviera cuisine, it's remarkable how similar the cuisines are, dishes often just seperated by a name. There is even an Italian equivelent for Bouillabaise, the name of which is escaping me for the moment.

Farinata is just one regional name in Italy (has some funny name in Sicily., I will have to look it up).

The only Trofie that I have had in Liguria, have been made out of wheat flour, but it is likely that some primative forms of pasta were made from chestnut flour (still exists in some parts).

I think that new world maize largely replaced chestnut, chickpea and buckwheat in polena/bread type peasant dishs.

Anyway I will try to keep this one topic as I also have a 3 pound bag of gram flour to use this weekend.

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The obvious question is why someone would be silly enough to buy a 3lb bag of gram flour in the first place......?

Anyway, I find it is also good for dusting fish or chicken before shallow frying

It makes great gram flour pancakes and, of course, you could always make some more bhaji if you can avaoid making lumpy batter :wink:

S

I think the obvious question (so that I don't have to keep going back and editing my orig post) is how the eff you spell bhaji(a)?

To answer the other question posed to me:

To get Simon to cook a huge meal for you and 6 of your friends, you need to lure him over with a big slab of bacon and some hot chocolate. Once in your kitchen, if you can endure his berating, abuse and insistence that you call him "Chef," he turns out a fairly good, however meager meal.

If I had one criticism of his cooking, it would be that my guests had embarrassingly empty stomachs and had to stop for a slice of pizza after dinner. He seems to think that 3 appetizers and 5 main courses and 3 desserts constitute dinner. :hmmm:

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Adam - In Sicily it is Panelle. They make some great Panelle at Ferdinando's Cafe in Brooklyn. You can get a plate of three of them, light as feathers topped with a mound of lovely ricotta and grated parmegian. Yum. It's a dish right out of wheat free heaven.

It's Ferdinando's Focacceria - on Union St.

But I've heard that the pannelle at Joe's of Avenue U are even better.

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The obvious question is why someone would be silly enough to buy a 3lb bag of gram flour in the first place......?

Anyway, I find it is also good for dusting fish or chicken before shallow frying

It makes great gram flour pancakes and, of course, you could always make some more bhaji if you can avaoid making lumpy batter :wink:

S

I think the obvious question (so that I don't have to keep going back and editing my orig post) is how the eff you spell bhaji(a)?

To answer the other question posed to me:

To get Simon to cook a huge meal for you and 6 of your friends, you need to lure him over with a big slab of bacon and some hot chocolate. Once in your kitchen, if you can endure his berating, abuse and insistence that you call him "Chef," he turns out a fairly good, however meager meal.

If I had one criticism of his cooking, it would be that my guests had embarrassingly empty stomachs and had to stop for a slice of pizza after dinner. He seems to think that 3 appetizers and 5 main courses and 3 desserts constitute dinner. :hmmm:

Thanks Joy!!! okay Simon, next time you are in town... DC is the place to be.. the meal sounds delightful!! Simon sent me the names of the recipes he made, I got hungry just reading about them!! Joy, you are truly lucky... although apparatenlty still hungry!! :biggrin::biggrin:

Joy, let me know if you try the brocolli recipe. I do not normally eat brocolli, but this really was quite good

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Adam - In Sicily it is Panelle. They make some great Panelle at Ferdinando's Cafe in Brooklyn. You can get a plate of three of them, light as feathers topped with a mound of lovely ricotta and grated parmegian. Yum. It's a dish right out of wheat free heaven.

Has been bugging me, it is also known as "Calda calda". (warm warm) in some parts of Northern Italy. Sounds like this name is in reference to the street criers calls.

Light as a feather? I'd like to know how they did that.

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I believe that when they make the dough, they roll it out to be paper thin. Then they cut sheets and fold them into little packets that are the size of a credit card. The when they throw them into the hot oil, they sort of puff up and the outsides become crispy but still chewy and the inside is basically hollow.

Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)
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To get Simon to cook a huge meal for you and 6 of your friends, you need to lure him over with a big slab of bacon and some hot chocolate.  Once in your kitchen, if you can endure his berating, abuse and insistence that you call him "Chef," he turns out a fairly good, however meager meal.

And one has to pretend not to know certain G&S references in order to make Simon feel like a big, big man.

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To get Simon to cook a huge meal for you and 6 of your friends, you need to lure him over with a big slab of bacon and some hot chocolate.  Once in your kitchen, if you can endure his berating, abuse and insistence that you call him "Chef," he turns out a fairly good, however meager meal.

And one has to pretend not to know certain G&S references in order to make Simon feel like a big, big man.

for one who does not know her Pirates from her Iolanthe, you certainly have a big, big gob

perhaps the only person I have ever met who could put a lamb shank in her mouth sideways

S

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Simon or Scottish Chef - would you care to share your recipe(s) for onion bhajis, please? I have made them a few times but always been very disappointed with the way they turn out and end up buying them from M&S. Thanks!

Here's one you might enjoy, too. I sell this in my takeaway.

Ingredients -

4 onions medium diced

Gram flour

Water

Heaped tablespoon of finely chopped coriander - use stem only for a more intense result

2 tablespoon of lemon juice

teaspoon of salt

teaspoon of cumin powder

teaspoon of turmeric

teaspoon of dhania powder (coriander)

teaspoon of garam masala

oil for deep frying

Method

Mix all of the ingredients except the gram and water in a bowl. Squeezing the mix together with your hands works best.

Add a good handfull of gram flour and continue to squeeze into the onion mix.

Add water, whilst continuing to squeeze the mix together, until you have a thick, gloopy mix. Much thicker than Simon's yorkshire pudding suggestion.

Drop a generously heaped tablespoon of the mix into hot oil and fry for 2 minutes.

Remove the bhajee, drain and flatten out into a patty shape.

Place back into the oil and fry until dark, golden brown.

Great served with tandoori raita and raw onions in lemon juice with chopped coriander leaves.

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I think this must be a regional thing. In calcutta the Bhaji is in a much lighter batter ( somehwere between what ASC is suggesting and a tempura style ) and uses slivers of onion to make small bite sized bhaji that are sold on street corners in newspaper wraps

That being said, ASC's recipe sounds pretty good and definitely worth a try

S

Edited by Simon Majumdar (log)
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Mostly all over India the onions are sliced for street side preparations.

Piazi is the Bengali word for Bhajia. It is the old language word I am told. The family that owns Ananada Bazar Patrika has a chef that like Panditji has been in the family for eons and comes from a family of chefs. The Piazi they serve are light, crisp and crunchy. And yes street side versions come somewhat more greasy but just as tasty and over paper or leaf plates.

ASC's version reminds me of the northern Indian home style recipes. These are bhajia/pakoras with a greater tooth, heartier and also more bold.

I make both.. depending on where, when and for whom I am preparing them.

Thanks ASC for your recipe. The coriander stems you add are that touch that many a chef will never share... thanks for writing it for us all to know. Very kind of you. I also love how you add lemon to the mix. I had an aunt that did that... And actually she claimed it was the lemon juice that made her pakoras so light and the breading so crisp. :smile:

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Piaza or piazi ( in some cases Piaj or Piaz depending on dialect) literally means onion but has come to be synonymous with Bhaji

Do piaza ( as in Chicken Do piaza ) is another example of the word where it means "two onions" I think. Onions are used at the beginning to form the base of the dish and then again at the end when deep fried onions are added to the dish

S

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Try this simple recipe.. delightful

-- Marinate some brocolli florets in a ginger garlic paste for about 20 minutes.

--- dust with gram flour and deep fry

-- Sprinkle with a mix of (amchoor, red chili, coriander powder and salt) and serve as a perfect appetizer with cold beer

enjoy!

Monica,

That method sounds wonderful, I'll definitely give it a try and report back.

j

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ASC's version reminds me of the northern Indian home style recipes.  These are bhajia/pakoras with a greater tooth, heartier and also more bold.

I was given this recipe and method by Babu (or more properly Moin). Mr Uddin is from Pakistan and he spent nearly four months of his life to train me and help me understand his methods.

I should talk more of this man. He is a remarkable Chef. I don't like to take credit for the recipes he gave to me. This is all his work and my changes are minor and respectful.

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It's the consistancy of the socca that's tricky. When you get it in France, it is cooked in a wood burning oven and the bottonm of the socca is slightly charred and the edges are burnt. Hard to approximate that at home in the oven. Maybe if I use a pizza stone. But that's no good because the batter will run off the sides.

Even when socca is cooked in ovens (vendors often put the oven on a wheeled cart and roll it into place, then fire it and cook delicious socca for sale at outdoor markets), it's done on a thin copper or steel tray, like a cheap "pizza pan". When it's cooked over coals or a gas fire, as with some of the vendors in old Nice, it is also on a round tray. Otherwise, as Steve says, the batter would run.

At home, I have had success with the following methods:

- start the socca in a flat pan (a round griddle) over a medium flame, then finish it under a grill (broiler) for that charred effect Steve describes -- which goes perfectly with the taste of the gram flour

- pour the batter into a thin pizza pan and cook this in a woodburning oven

- same, except in an electric oven with a pizza stone which has been pre-heated for 30 minutes.

Socca is wonderful, as is its thicker French cousin, the panisse (no relation to the restaurant) which is often sold shaped and ready to grill at traiteurs' shops. Italian farinata is also good, but in my experience has a different texture to the French version. The small branch of the traiteur "Ernest" in Cannes, just before the Rue Meynadier, often has socca aux cebettes -- served very simply with chopped green onions. Another tick in Robert Schonfeld's "simple/good" box.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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ASC's version reminds me of the northern Indian home style recipes.  These are bhajia/pakoras with a greater tooth, heartier and also more bold.

I was given this recipe and method by Babu (or more properly Moin). Mr Uddin is from Pakistan and he spent nearly four months of his life to train me and help me understand his methods.

I should talk more of this man. He is a remarkable Chef. I don't like to take credit for the recipes he gave to me. This is all his work and my changes are minor and respectful.

Would love to hear more about Babu.

So yes if he is from Pakistan, it explains the Northern Indian touch of your recipe. It is superb. My sister made it today... I am sure she did not follow your recipe exactly, but I did leave it with her. She seemed happy.

My life in Denver is also becoming all about food. :rolleyes:

Would you share more about Babu? Also about your own business... I would love to know more. Please. :smile:

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ASC, did Babu teach you how to make Bread Pakoras?

They are a great snack to sell in a stall, cart or a snack type of space. I hope I am not far from the truth in understanding that you own somekind of an Indian establishment. I think somewhere recently, you had mentiond it to be a cart or a stall.. am I right?

If you want the recipe for bread pakoras, I can try and write one for you... I make them often.. in fact, if my dad is up for taking a bite of one, I shall volunteer to make it in the near future.

It is simply a slice of bread that is dipped in spiced chicpea flour batter (similar consistency as for a pakora/bhajia/piazi/bora batter). And then the besan dipped slice of bread is deep fried like a pakora. They are heavenly.

In our home Panditji would fill the bread with stuff and then dip it in the batter and then fry. They were amazing.

I am looking forward to reading about Babu and also to know more about your own enterprise. :smile:

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Would you share more about Babu?  Also about your own business... I would love to know more.  Please. :smile:

No problem, Suvir.

There is a lot to tell about both Babu and how I eventually bought his business from him, so I'll probably do this in chunks.

Perhaps the first meeting we had would be a good place to start as it was during those ten minutes that I was to learn of the mans quite astounding generosity.

In late 1988 it was clear that my time in Glasgow was coming to an end and I had constant urges to return home to the highlands, I had been away so long that I felt little confidence I'd be able to find work. I'd known Babu from being a customer of his takeaway, regularly enjoying his food. His Raja Tandoori naan stuffed with chicken tikka and coriander served with a simple curry sauce being a particular favourite :smile:

Anyway, never having suffered from shyness, I went in one evening to talk with Babu and offered to work for him for nothing on a trial basis. I said I hoped it would either lead to a job working for him and, if not, I would be happy to work for nothing to learn about Indian cuisine. That's when I got my first talk about the vast differences in Asian cuisine and that it was most improper to refer to it only as Indian :laugh:

He gave me my chance and after the first night he offered to pay me. It wasn't much, but it was a start and he'd clearly seen enough to know that I was a Chef. I'd shown him my City and Guilds cooking qaulifications and he famously remarked, "Should this mean something to me?" It was a sobering and charmingly funny moment.

As the weeks rolled by Babu really worked me hard. I had the majority of the preparation work to do as he was very keen to ensure I had the basics under my belt as quickly as possible. I'd have to make ginger garlic paste, his masala blends of pastes, yoghurt and spices, chilli pastes, naan mixes, chapati mix, pakoras, bhajias, marinades for the tandoor, garam masala, popadoms (making dozens of these day after day quickly gets you up to speed) and of course I'd have to chop a 20 Kg sack of onions for the basic curry gravy almost daily. Then, he would make me clean and clean and clean some more. I remember one busy evening as it neared midnight feeling absolutely shattered and Babu said to me, "I know you are tired, I can see it. But you must still do the onions and then wash the floors. I need you to be strong." Of course he meant that I understood I'd have to be fit to do what after all is a very demanding job. I wonder if people understand the heat in an Indian Kitchen when a fully fired Tandoor burns for hours on end :wacko:

One of my favourite memories of Babu was his prayer regime. No matter how busy we were, or at what stage of preparation, every evening around eight pm he would ask us to leave the kitchen so he could pray. He would move a table, lay out his prayer mat to face Mecca and spend ten minutes praying and offering his devotion. It was kind of weird being out in the front of the shop with customers waiting, but I had and still have total respect for the mans dedication to an element of his life he saw as utterly vital.

I'm sure this spirituality underpinned a large part of Babu's gently charismatic calm. He would tell me time and again how important it was to remain calm when cooking food for others and he would assert this in the kitchen at madly busy times by simply saying, "Be calm, no rush, be calm." It always had the desired effect.

It was quite a revelation to me having previously worked with Chefs who make Gordon Ramsay seem like some kind of peacenik :biggrin:

Edited by A Scottish Chef (log)
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One of my favourite memories of Babu was his prayer regime. No matter how busy we were, or at what stage of preparation, every evening around eight pm he would ask us to leave the kitchen so he could pray. He would move a table, lay out his prayer mat to face Mecca and spend ten minutes praying and offering his devotion. It was kind of weird being out in the front of the shop with customers waiting, but I had and still have total respect for the mans dedication to an element of his life he saw as utterly vital.

I'm sure this spirituality underpinned a large part of Babu's gently charismatic calm. He would tell me time and again how important it was to remain calm when cooking food for others and he would assert this in the kitchen at madly busy times by simply saying, "Be calm, no rush, be calm." It always had the desired effect.

It was quite a revelation to me having previously worked with Chefs who make Gordon Ramsay seem like some kind of peacenik  :biggrin:

Since I was a young boy, this deeply spiritual element of Indian cooking has fascinated me.

It is the same across the regions and religions.

The Hindus, Moslems, Jews, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains of India have all found spirituality an easy way of dealing with food and life. And what is amazing is how they have all adopted very similar routines. The differences between these new world and old world religions dissappears in the kitchens.

And my grandma always said you must cook with great peace of mind. Any tensions in our minds can be a poison in the food. And it is that angst that will give people a stomach ache after eating food cooked by one that is not at peace with themselves.

Babu seems to have give you a lot to think about.. and it is wonderful to see you give him so much in sharing his views and experiences. Thanks ASC. :smile:

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