Humans have cultivated chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, for quite some time. According to Wikipedia, the remains of 7,500 year-old chickpeas have been found in the Middle East. Today, they’re popular in many parts of the world, including Spain where garbanzo beans have been all the rage since at least the 15th century when Sephardic Jews of Iberia were making a dish called “adafina.”
After some extensive Googling, I haven’t found anything that says “and then, the Spanish brought garbanzo beans to Mexico in year XXXX,” but considering Mexican food is a fusion of indigenous foods with, primarily, Spanish food, I think it’s safe to make that leap. Today, Mexico is the 10th largest producer of chickpeas.
Despite their popularity, I hadn’t heard of chickpea flour, also called besan or gram flour, until recently when I was perusing vegan and vegetarian food blogs like this one (I’m trying to cut back on our animal-product intake). Apparently, while popular in India, using garbanzo beans to make flour is just not that common of a thing in Mexico or Texas. That’s a shame, because it makes a nice pancake that goes well with things like salsas and guacamole. It’s also a good source of vegan protein. Below is a quick comparison of chickpea flour to all-purpose white wheat flour:
|1 cup||chickpea flour||all-purpose white wheat flour|
After some experimenting, I believe I have developed a solid chickpea pancake ideal for my favourite Mexican toppings.
Ingredients (makes 4-6 pancakes, feeds 2 as main dish):
- 1 cup of chickpea/gram/besan flour
- ¼ teaspoon of baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne (optional – adjust up or down depending on spice tolerance)
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tbsp of your favourite oil (like coconut or sunflower) for your pan/griddle
- Stir all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add the water. Whisk briskly with a fork until most of the lumps are gone.
- Heat a large skillet or flat griddle on medium-low. Oil the pan with half of your favourite oil – I usually use coconut oil because it handles heat well
- Pour about ¼- 1/6 of the mixture onto your pan for each pancake depending on how large you like the pancake.
- Cook the pancake on the first side for about 5 minutes. Normal pancakes you flip when they bubble in the center, but these take a little longer
- Flip and cook for another 5 minutes until the pancake is golden brown
- Halfway through cooking, add the rest of the oil to the pan if it’s starting to look dry.
- Top with guacamole, pico de gallo, your favourite salsa, sour cream, cheese, scrambled eggs, chili or anything else your heart desires.