March 7, 2009

Chickpea Flour Pizza

Chickpeas (also known as garbonzo beans) are very common in Indian cuisine. This is a very ancient food, first cultivated in the Middle East around 5400 BC, and from there they spread eastward to India and westward throughout the Mediterranean. Oddly, their spread seemed to stop there, as they are rare in Oriental dishes and rarer still in Northern European fare.

As we are huge consumers of Indian food, chickpeas are a staple in the Evolution Kitchen, and so is chickpea flour, which is a main ingredient in our gluten-free breads. You may have trouble finding this in your local Safeway, but health food stores and gourmet groceries should carry it (Bob's Red Mill has it). You can also find it in Indian markets, usually by the name besan.

Or you can buy it here from Amazon: Besan Flour - Chickpea Flour

The following dish is an incredible delight that we have made twice this week. It is actually an Italian recipe called Socca Farinata, a morning food for the working class in Nice and Genoa. We originally got this recipe from the wonderful book "World Vegetarian" by Madhur Jaffrey, but we have made some modifications to simplify things.

Note that this is not your typical American pizza. The dough is soft, almost like a polenta, and probably should be eaten with a fork. Another important point is this needs a large skillet that can both sit on the stovetop and go under a broiler. We used our cast iron skillet, but we did have some trouble getting the pizza out afterwards.

Chickpea Flour Pizza


2/3 c chickpea flour
1/2 t salt
1 c water
2 T olive oil
1/2 t dried rosemary, finely crushed
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 t garlic powder, or 1 garlic clove minced
1 small plum tomato, seeded and finely chopped
3 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
ground black pepper to taste


1. Stir the chickpea flour and salt together in a bowl. Slowly add half the water and stir into a fine paste, breaking up any lumps. Add the rest of the water and mix into a thin batter. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, and garlic.

2. Use a 12-inch non-stick skillet that can be put under the broiler. Heat skillet on stovetop over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Give the batter another good stir and pour into skillet.

3. Cook the batter for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle on the onion and tomato. Add a good dose of black pepper. Continue to cook until it begins to set, another 5 or so minutes. Get your broiler going.

4. Remove the skillet from the stove and place about 5 inches from the broiler. Broil for another 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden all over.

5. Remove from oven. Gently losen the pizza from the skillet. Depending on how deep your skillet is, you may have to cut the pizza first to get out, or invert on a plate. Serve immediately.


  1. I love chickpeas...they call them kikärtor in Sweden. They are my all time favorite in salads in some kind of vinaigrette.

    They do have their downsides though. Chickpeas, more than any other "bean", give me serious wind problems. Since we share a common genetic making, how do they affect you? Jaffrey gives some various traditional remedies, but I have not really tried any.

    Brother Thomas

  2. Couple tricks:

    1) use bay leaves when cooking beans in a pressure cooker.

    2) a pinch of asafoetida (sp?) will also take the wind out of beans

    I haven't tried #2 yet, although I have a bottle of the smelly stuff. #1 seems to work pretty well with me. You got to soak your beans overnight and rinse really well, too.