Monday, May 25, 2009

Chickpea Crepes with Ginger and Hot Chiles (Chilla)

I always have chickpea flour (besan) in the cabinet - often for socca, sometimes for Indian dumplings, other times for breading okra before frying. When reading through Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking, I found my new favorite for breakfast - chilla. According to Sahni, "chilla is a spicy delicacy, a delightful breakfast treat form the eastern regions of India"

She had me at spicy and breakfast.

I mixed these together and pulled out our warped crepe pan for lunch Saturday. According to Sahni, "to best enjoy chilla, serve them with a lot of hot steaming tea, Indian-style," so I put a pot on the stove for my favorite chair recipe while the crepes cooked.

I adore this cookbook and am only through the tiffin section, but still need some urad dal in order to make the other recipes I'm interested in. Several of you asked for the recipe when I told you about it, so here it is as it appears in Sahni's book:

Chickpea Crepes with Ginger and Hot Chiles (Chilla)

1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
1 T chopped ginger
2 hot green chiles, chopped
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
1 t coarse sea salt
2 T light sesame oil or light vegetable oil*
extra oil for frying

1. Mix the chickpea flour and water and make a smooth, lump-free batter using processor, blender, or wire whisk. add all the other ingredients except extra oil mix well.
2. To cook the crepes, heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat until very hot. Then brush the pan lightly with 1/2 to 3/4 t. oil.
3. Pour about 1/4 c of batter into the pan. Tilt the pan to coat it evenly with the batter. Cook the crepe until the underside is browned (about 2 min) Turn and cook the other side for 30-45 seconds. Pour on 1/2 to 1 t. oil during cooking to give the crepe a fried taste and texture. Remove and serve immediately or keep warm, while you make more crepes with the remaining batter. For a crispier taste, use 2-21/2 t. oil per crepe.

*Sesame oil is the Indian kind - light - (Til, I think it's called) - not the darker one found in Asian aisle of stores.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

num pang, banh mi. asia dog.

I gripe a lot about not liking vegetarian sandwiches with their days-old roasted eggplants and slimy zucchini slices and bread pink with red pepper. I thought I would never eat a sandwich again after years of this, until I got into the idea of finding banh mi.

Then I read two articles about the banh mi craze, and found some answers.

On a very hot recent Sunday, we went to Num Pang near Union Square to have the peppered catfish (pictured) and pork. My catfish choice was the best - spicy and peppery and sweet and concentrated and briny and all that cilantro.

We were hooked.

When our movie at the cinema across the street burnt out the following weekend, we grabbed the sandwiches and sat upstairs to enjoy as we spied on the goings on at the theater - have they fixed the film? Were those people in the movie with us? Do people still look angry? and we finished our sandwiches and corn covered in spice, chipotle mayo and coconut.

Today I found myself at Brooklyn Flea picking up a lost earring from a fabulous jeweler.
Liam and I split ways after the greenmarket so I was cruising the aisles alone and figured I'd snack before I took off. Red Hook pupusas weren't up yet, so I passed along until I saw asiadog. All kinds of hot dogs covered in all kinds of asian toppings. Brilliantly difficult to choose, so I went with the Vinh - a banh mi topping-ed veggie dog.

The Smart Dog (my personal favorite for veggie dogs - it doesn't have that liquid smokey flavor of Tofu Pups) was charred and then popped into a toasted bun with veggie 'pate,' pickled daikon and carrot, jalapenos, cilantro, and my own squirt of sri acha sauce. It burned deliciously. I can't believe no one has thought of this before?!

My faith in sandwiches (and veggie dogs) has returned.