Oct 17, 2013

Chickpea Flour Pizza

Chickpea flour (Hindi: Besan, Tamil: Kadalaimaavu) is flour that is prepared by grinding chickpeas or split peas. Note that this may be different from garbanzo bean flour.
Ten days ago, the Penn State Vegetarian Club announced a vegan pizza competition. I had an unopened bag of coarse chickpea flour (besan) in my kitchen that I had been meaning to use up and this sounded like a good opportunity. Long story short, I ended up making a fairly good vegan pizza that also happened to be gluten free, but I was late in starting the preparation so I never made it to the Vegan pizza event :( 
Still I enjoyed it for dinner as well as a nice lunch today.

       Chickpea flour                                    Flour Batter                             Vegetables being sauteed
                                             batter in the skillet,      one side cooked, other side on

Daiya "cheese" shreds             pizza in the oven
"Dressed" pizza crust
Final Product - Delicious veggie pizza that also happens to be vegan, gluten free

Here is the recipe, adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe from Food and Wine.

It is a gluten free alternative to wheat flour and especially a great alternative to "refined" white flour. Note that I made double the recipe (actually I messed up and added 1 and 2/3rd cup flour, so I had to increase the water and ended up making almost double of everything!) but I kept the salt low though.

Ingredients                           Recipe

  1. 2/3 cup chickpea flour
  2. 1/3 teaspoon salt
  3. 1 Cup water
  4. 1/2 teaspoon basil leaves or oregano
  5. 3 TBLSP extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 4 TBLSP chopped tomato
  7. 1/2 sliced red onion, sauteed
  8. A few sliced mushrooms, sauteed
  9. 1/3  each of red, orange, green peppers, sliced and sauteed
  10. Handful of vegan cheese. I used Daiya brand mozzarella flavor
  11. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  12. 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  1. 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 (if not strain out the clumps, keep them on a plate and press them, then add back to batter). Whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup of water and let the batter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then stir in the basil leaves.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick (optional ovenproof) skillet. (At this time, also Preheat the broiler.)  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 (Be patient, otherwise you will break the crust like I did with the first one). Burst any large air bubbles with the tip of a knife. It is optional to flip it and cook the other side or keep a lid on and let the top steam cook. I sprinkled some basil on the batter just after pouring it on the skillet.
  3. An optional step, suggested by my awesome friend Alicia from Florida, was to add a layer of hummus or pesto on top of the crust now.
  4. Then, sprinkle the cheese, tomato, sauteed vegetables on top and chili/pepper/oregano powder, place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the pizza is golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. I did not have an oven proof skillet, so I oiled a cookie sheet and then placed the crust on top, then added cheese etc and placed it under the broiler in the middle rack. Keep an eye to avoid burning it.
  5. Slide the pizza onto a work surface, cut into wedges and serve hot.
NOTES Chickpea flour is available at Indian and Middle Eastern markets, at health-food stores or on Amazon

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