Category Archives: Vegetarian

Savory Chickpea Pancakes

I’m kind of a connoisseur when it comes to pancakes. Pancakes have been a Saturday morning staple since I was about ten years old and learned to make them on my own. If I had to name my top comfort food, it would be blueberry pancakes smothered in butter and  maple syrup. Who could resist? Alas, my love of carb-y, starchy goodness had led to a spare tire. I recently dropped 15lbs (and counting!) by vigilantly counting calories and eating a low-glycemic diet. That means no more sugary pancakes for the time being.

I live nearby a wonderful Indian/Pakistani grocery on Devon Avenue, here in Chicago. It is everything a market should be, primarily fresh fruit and vegetables with only a few spare shelves of dry goods and plenty of bulk grains, flours and spices. Every week I feel like I’m going on an adventure and discovering new and wonderful foods. This week I was inspired by some beautiful oyster mushrooms and peppers and decided to make savory chickpea pancakes.

Almost too beautiful to eat.

Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour or besan, is made from dried, ground chickpeas and has been used in Southeast Asian cooking for centuries. It’s high in protein, with a deep, nutty umami flavor it makes a wonderful substitute for grain flour. It’s also completely gluten-free for people who are watching their gluten intake.

Savory Chickpea Pancakes

1 1/4 cup Chickpea flour

1 cup water

1 small egg (optional)

2 Tblsp oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1/2 tsp black pepper

Oyster mushrooms (about 1/2lb or 8oz)

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped small

1 large scallion, diced

1 small garlic clove, minced

Mix the spices with the chickpea flour. Add water and egg and beat until smooth. Set aside.

On medium heat, saute vegetables in butter, gee or a little oil for 3-5 minutes until tender crisp. If you are making these cakes for breakfast or brunch, this step can easily be done the night before. If you dice everything up small enough, the vegetables can be added directly to the batter without pre-cooking, however, I find that it makes for a less watery batter if you cook off some of the water in the vegetables first.

Many recipes for chickpea pancakes do not call for an egg. I find that it makes the cakes fluffy and adds flavor. If you do not want to add egg, simply make sure to let your water/flour mixture sit for about 15mins to thicken.

Add veggies to batter. In a hot, well-oiled skillet, add small dollop of batter. The batter will be somewhat thin, so make sure to not pour in too much. Cook for about 2-3 mins on each side.  (makes about 5-6 small pancakes)

This was my first time making these pancakes and they were so delicious I didn’t miss the sugar! I have a stack of them in the fridge for a quick snack or lunch. Here’s to losing the next 15lbs. I’ll be fitting into my old skinny jeans in no time.

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Beluga Lentil “Caviar” or How to Make an Elegant Appetizer for less than $5


Meet beluga lentils. A vegetarian’s best friend, these protein packed little gems are easy to cook, and uncannily similar in appearance to caviar. Beluga lentils or “black lentils,” can transform your next soiree into an elegant affair. Who needs to plunk down $100 for a can of salty fish eggs when you can have a heaping jar of nutty, flavorful lentils for around $2?

I’m the queen of thrifty eating. I’ve been known to get out the calculator and tally up the per serving cost of my daily meals. As far as deals go, lentils are a huge bang for your buck. They’re cheap and nutritious, high in protein, iron and vitamin B1, and (in my opinion) they taste great.

Beluga Lentil  “Caviar”
1 cup lentils
4 cups salted water
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Lentils require a 1:4 cooking ratio. This makes quite a lot of lentils. To half the recipe, simply use 1/2 cup lentils and 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, add salt to taste. Add lentils and cook covered for 20-25mins. After lentils have absorbed the water, add vinegar and olive oil.

This simplest of recipes also works great on top of salads, as a side dish for fish, or mixed with rice.

I made this dainty appetizer with the lentil caviar, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sliver of sundried tomato as a garnish. Elegant enough for a dinner party, easy enough for every day eating.



Whether you’re vegetarian or simply on a budget, there’s no reason to feel like you’re skimping.

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