Chickpea Fries with Yogurt Tahini Dip are a magical combination of crispy and creamy ~ this Middle Eastern appetizer is always a hit!
I don’t know about you, but some of the best food I’ve ever had, I’ve had in bars. That includes wine bars, tapas bars, pubs, any drinking establishment that also serves food. God bless ’em. You feel like you’ve had a night out without spending too much, and, I don’t know, maybe it’s the proximity to all that booze, but food just tastes better in a bar. We first had crispy chickpea fries several years ago in our favorite little tapas bar tucked down a winding brick alleyway in Portsmouth New Hampshire. It was interesting, though, because the European concept of tapas, where little plates get passed around the table and shared by everyone doesn’t seem to work so well when it comes to these fries…these fries inspire an everyman for himself mentality — basically a grab fest. But that’s not an issue since we’ve moved to LA. I haven’t seen them on any menus out here, and so I make them myself. I make plenty to go around. and everybody gets their own plate.
They’re called panisses in Provence, panelle in Tuscany. They are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. You’ll need chickpea (aka garbanzo bean) flour to make these, and luckily there’s been an explosion in the popularity and availability of specialty flours. Lots of large grocery stores and most high end and whole foods stores carry them these days. Chick pea flour has a beautiful, finely ground silky texture. I use it to make Indian pakora, too, so a bag never goes to waste.
What is chickpea flour?
Chickpea flour is flour made from chickpeas! It’s naturally high in protein and fiber, and it’s gluten free, as well. Chickpea flour is a traditional ingredient in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. I use it to make Indian pakora, both chicken and vegetarian. You can bake with it for gluten free recipes, but you can also replace up to 25% of the all-purpose flour in regular baking recipes with chickpea flour for an added flavor and nutrition boost.
You can cut the fries and stack them between waxed paper ahead of time and then refrigerate until you’re ready to fry. This is a good idea because they taste best straight out of the oil.
If made properly these are to die for. As with all frying, getting the oil hot enough is essential for success. You need an inexpensive clip on thermometer to do this properly. The result will be glorious—crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. Traditionally the batter for these fries isn’t heavily seasoned, but my recipe has a Middle Eastern kick to it, You can serve them with all kinds of dipping sauces, but I made a simple yogurt tahini sauce because it’s the way we first had it at the tapas bar.
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- vegetable oil for frying
- parsley and sea salt for garnish
- 1 cup Greek style yogurt
- 1/2 cup tahini
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- For thin matchstick fries like the ones I made, use two 8x8 inch square pans. For a little thicker fries, you can use a 9x12 inch pan. Line the pan or pans with parchment paper, letting the ends extend over the sides of the pan so you can easily lift the chilled dough out for cutting.
- Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, and spices.
- Heat the water and oil to boiling in a saucepan. Turn down the heat and slowly whisk in the chickpea flour, stir until it thickens and is smooth, about a minute. It will look like a thick oatmeal.
- Spread the mixture in the pan, smoothing it with a spatula. Take another piece of parchment and lay it over the top and continue to smooth it out as evenly as possible.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour until fully set. It will set up just like polenta.
- Meanwhile make the dipping sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Chill till needed. If you like a thinner sauce you can whisk in a little water.
- When the dough is completely chilled, carefully lift it out of the pan and cut into 1/4 x 4 inch strips for matchstick style, and 1/2 x 4 inch for thicker style.
- Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet till it reaches 350-360F. Be patient, this takes a few minutes, and you want the oil to be hot enough to crisp the fries and not soak into them. Fry the chickpea strips in batches, if the oil is the right temperature they should be golden in 2 minutes.
- Season with a little fresh ground sea salt, dust with parsley and serve right away.