Friday, May 23, 2008

Dangerous Substance

Just this past week, I was introduced to a dangerous and habit-forming substance. It was such a luscious experience that I have found myself feverishly longing for it morning noon and night. My mind has been seized on it and can think of little else.

It all started when Ben, yes the one with the chickens, came over to my place with sack of chickpea flour in hand. “Have you ever had Madhur Jaffrey’s chickpea pizza?” he asked innocently enough. What do chickpeas have to do with pizza? I wondered silently, the crinkle in my brow disclosing my doubt. As I watched Ben sift, whisk, and stir the batter to a watery consistency, my eyes did a poor job of concealing their informal query, How was this watery paste going to form a crust?

Moments later, and a twist of Ben’s wrist, and the batter was gasping and squirming under the heat of the pan, unleashing a captivatingly nutty fragrance. We covered the pancake-like dough with whatever we could find in the fridge: cheese, bacon, sweet potatoes, pepadews, and pickled garlic, then stuck it under the broiler for a final blast of heat.
By the time this peculiar concoction was ready for consumption, the spell had already been cast. The crust was toasty and crisp and at the same time, delicate and buttery - a cross between polenta, pastry, and a freshly pressed tortilla.

As I finished my first piece, I was already planning future pizzas: Green Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, and Sweet & Spicy Tomato Chutney, Spicy Black Beans with Shredded Mandarin Pork, garnished with Fresh Lettuce and Avocado, Spicy Lamb Sausage with Wilted Watercress, Golden Raisins, and Roasted Red Peppers, not to mention an infinite number of something-out-of-nothing recipes. My mind was racing.

My pizza rampage- though imaginary at the time - did not end there, for when I visited my mother upstate this past weekend, what do you suppose I brought with me? “Have you ever had Madhur Jaffrey’s Chickpea Pizza?” I asked her eagerly as we discussed the menu for the weekend. My mother was soon hooked on the stuff and every night we happily satiated our vice with a newly invented pizza, forgetting all about our previously planned menu.

It was on the third night that I sent this e-mail,
My mother and I have made chickpea pizza every night I've been here. I just tried to sign into my gmail account as gourmetpizza (instead of gourmetpeasant.) I'm afraid may have started something very very dangerous!

It was pretty bad. I was beginning to crack up under the pressure of my infatuation and nearly vowed to never touch the stuff again. It was then that I realized, there's nothing sinister at all about the Chickpea. I was getting bent out of shape for no reason at all. Of course you will have to decide for yourself whether or not dreaming day and night about pizza is a potential problem. For myself, I've decided to embrace this new devotion as a positive development, for what would life be like without obsessive zeal for the garbanzo in all its forms?

Madhur Jaffrey's Chickpea Flour Pizza

  • 2/3 cup chickpea flour (see Notes)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat the broiler. Sift the chickpea flour with the salt into a medium bowl. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the water, whisking constantly to form a paste. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup of water and let the batter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then stir in the rosemary.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet. Stir the batter once, pour it into the skillet and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Cook the pizza over moderately high heat until the bottom is golden and crisp and the top is almost set, 2 to 3 minutes. Burst any large air bubbles with the tip of a knife.
  3. Sprinkle the tomato, onion, Parmesan and pepper over the top, then place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the pizza is golden and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Slide the pizza onto a work surface, cut into wedges and serve hot.


Emily said...

Oh wow -- this looks fantastic! You may have just inspired me for dinner tonight, as I know I can get chickpea flour at our local supermarket (thank god for Wegmans)...


Kara said...

I love polenta. I love tortillas. And we all know I love pizza - so this might be my dream come true!