Tag Archives: protein

Crepes!, with savory chick pea flour

In fishing out a recipe for a fushion crepe dish I had posted earlier, I realized I had never actually specified how to make the crepe batter. I want to rectify that now, especially since this batter uses chick pea flour and is nutritive-ly far superior to its French counterpart.

I had hesitated in providing that recipe because it was from a cook book. However, today, I was sans cook book due to an apartment repair job which required us to pack up all of our books from one wall. It is for a traditional Indian dish called “cheela”. 

So, I called my mom and promptly forgot most of what she told me. I did remember her saying that outside of the salt and pepper, all else was free to experimentation. So here are the results of my delicious experiment:

  • 1 cup chick pea flour (also called Besan, in indian stores)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (I used yellow)
  • 1 medium green chili pepper (these are long and slim), chopped
  • at least 1 Tbls Fresh coriander (or more if you’d like)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt 
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper

Optional:

  • Garam Masala (1/4 to 1/2 tsp) (I only used this because I had it, not because its imperative to the dish)
  • ground coriander (1/2 tsp)
  • ground cumin (1/4 to 1/2 tsp)

Toss and mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Then, add water, starting with one cup of water. You want to make it about a pancake like consistency in the batter. If needed, add up to 1/4 cup more. Whisk together to create the batter for the crepes. Then follow the cooking instructions in my previous post–that post describes how proten-acious this crepe is and how it barely takes any oil to cook! I made up to 7 crepes using this recipe, could have possibly stretched it to 8, to feed 3 adults. Enjoy!

A side note on the amount of spices: Note, when I don’t have a specific measurement in mind for a basic spice such as salt or pepper, I basically sprinkle the salt over the surface of the other ingredients in a left to right manner until I have the surface at least lightly coated. In this case, because chick pea flour has a strong taste, I decided I was use just a pinch or dash more salt. Same with the black pepper. I sprinkled until the surface of the flour in my bowl was fully coated because I love black pepper. Otherwise, I added some ground cumin because I LOVE it and I used ground coriander because I didn’t have fresh.

Enjoy!

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A bowl, a whisk, a spatula, and a frying pan; or my first fusion dish ever!

I had fun with a new creation this morning. Its made with Indian crepes called cheelas. I was inspired to make it because I had made a savory filling for a tart over thanksgiving that I never ended up making. (Plus, though I brought the filling home, I left the crust in my sister’s fridge!) Cheela batter is healthier than regular crepe batter. Here I fused it with a traditional French (Provencal) based savory filling of red cabbage and onion.

The filling was for a cabbage and red onion tart from the Martha Stewart Living website (i provide the link here). I was nervous about serving a cabbage filling (kind of a departure for me i guess) but it came out wonderfully..sweet and a touch of vinegar-y. They ended up being a perfect compliment to the indian crepes (cheela(s)). Marvelous, and my first fusion concontion to boot! There are a few reasons why I thought it was valuable to share.

  • Indian crepes are made out of chickpea flour (besan) so they are full of protein.

I checked the nutrition data tool (LOVE THIS!) and it says one cup of chick pea flour contains 21 grams of protein. I made 8 crepes which meant about 175 calories each for my husband and I, just for the crepes without the filling. The total distribution from these crepes are about 61% carbs, 25% protein and 14% fat. That is from the flour alone. It also seems to contain thyamine and is a good source of manganese and folate. So good for all you pregnant woman right?

  • The batter does not contain fat. It contains spices, chopped up chili peppers and herbs (like cilantro) and it is thinned with water. Chick pea flour can be tricky to make tasty (I used to find it so) but with a few standard Indian spices, it is getting easier. I used the recipe from American Masala (of course) for the crepes (cheela). I am not going to duplicate the recipe here since I definitely encourage people buying this lovely book. I did add black pepper to the batter since my filling was something based in French flavors and i wanted to compliment that. But I also added garam masala and cumin seeds since I did not have some of ingredients on hand that he recommended. My mom has her own recipe but it saved me a phone call. I did want to say that over time, you will evolve your own mix of spices to add to the batter. You basically whisk the batter together to a thin pancake like consistency.
  • Using Sarvan’s technique, I used only 1/4 tspn of oil for each crepe during cooking. As I progressed I was able to use less and less since the oil from the previous crepe would remain at the bottom of the pan to assist with the next one.
  • Notes, tips and observation on cooking the crepes. I originally made the mistake of putting in way too much batter…i also subconsciously thought i had to put oil in the pan to cook the crepes. The whole thing just stuck together to the bottom of the frying pan like bad eggmaking can sometimes do. I had to scrape the whole thing off and start over! The second time I used a non-stick pan and heated it with no oil at the bottom. I was careful to use about 1/4 cup of batter like Sarvan suggested and quickly circled the batter from the center out to make it as large as possible. Once I did that I drizzled a 1/4 tsp of oil over it. and then I let it cook until the bottom turned golden brown. Now, I still have room for improvement. I need to learn to make the circles thinner and wider quickly. My crepes were likely smaller than they needed to be. The heat has to be right because the chick pea flour cooks quickly and while you want to get the bottom golden brown, you also want the get the whole thing dry on the top too. Still, i’m so happy with my first batch. I have never succeeded in getting them off the pan and these turned out to be eminently flippable.

Thanks to both Sarvan and Martha Stewart for my first fusion creation! This was a perfect breakfast/brunch dish coming home from Thanksgiving.

Cost per serving: Chick pea flour and cabbage and onion. Oh my god, this is like the mother of all staples. I am going to the math quickly on this, rather than too precisely. I included the price of the cabbage, red onion, 1 cup of besan flour, the thyme in the cabbage red onion filling, and the oil in the whole recipe for four servings (each serving is 2 stuffed crepes). I come up to $0.40 cents a serving

Great tool

This is a shout out to a valuable tool I found on the internet. I haven’t fully analyzed it yet but it has a boat load of nutritional information on most generic foods. It goes beyond the traditional “food label” (it has that too) and provides useful charts and graphs. My favorite right now is the amino acid structure of a food and how to complement it in order to receive your full protein in-take. Does that rock or what? it also highlights the wealth of vitamins and other nutrients that your food may have. It works for me at the ingredient level, rather than what I’ve made out of that meal.

Making lentils manageable

Cooking lentils, for my friend Suzan! I have already written about the powers of the lentil on my “Getting Healthy” page, as a fat-free source of protein. However, getting to a place where I could incorporate this most traditional of Indian foods into my daily American lifestyle took a while! I don’t see too many of my friends cooking lentils on a weekly basis and I thought writing about what works for me may make it more accessible.

Getting started
Now, I do rely on making traditional indian dal, which is quite flavorful and can be eaten like soup. It requires indian spices, but only a handful, and once you establish a stock, you don’t have to think about it anymore. These are: tumeric (halthi), cumin seeds (jeera), asofetida (heeng), cayenne pepper, and small green chili peppers (mirch). I have seen jalapenos substituted effectively for the latter. Salt is key. There are several lentils to choose from and for the most part, I am able to flavor them similarly. Most common for me is yellow split pigeon peas (toor dal), masoor dal both with skin (brown on the outside, disc shaped) and without (orange on the inside), and sometimes split yellow pea and dehusked mung bean (moong dal). There is also a French green lentil that I have cooked with this summer. There are many other types (Wikipedia can tell you). The easiest way to get started is to get started is get one-half pound of the orange washed masoor dal in at Whole Foods, in the bulk section.

Speaking of which, I love how cost-effective this food is. I just called Whole Foods. They sell this dal for $1.79 per pound! When you consider that typically, it only takes a half-cup to feed two peopel for a meal, this is a food that stretches your dollar. Also, water is the main ingredient required to cook lentils. This increases the volume considerably and comes from the tap. If you find you can handle a bigger quantity, you can purchase them in bags from an Indian grocery store (they sell 1 pound, 2 pound, etc.). As I got better at making dal and eating it a couple of times a week, I found myself going through more of it. But even getting a pound at Whole Foods in bulk can easily last 6-8 weeks in my two person household.

Cooking
Now, cooking it. Note, most people are told to pre-wash their lentils before cooking it. Me…I don’t have time for things like this so I only tend to use those lentil types that don’t necessarily require it. (this is the philosophy of Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!). The ones I noted above fit that category. I also used to be told to make the dal in a pressure cooker. BIG MISTAKE for me. For whatever reason, this really held me back from making good dal for a long time. It was messy, hard to clean the pressure cooker afterwards, and I would have to keep cooking it for an undetermined amount of time afterwards to really make it come out. Yuck.

There are two techniques that have worked for me. My mom and sister told me get a $8.99 slow cooker from Walgreens. It has an OFF, HIGH, LOW and WARM setting. (Can you believe it?) It is small but does the job and then some for the two of us. I then place a half-cup to one cup of lentils, three times the water, a half-teaspoon salt and about one-quarter teaspoon of tumeric in the slow cooker, set it to low, and go out the door to work. I come back home to find the daal cooked. (I then transfer the dal to a small pot on the stove to flavor it.)

The funny thing is, after all that wrestling with a pressure cooker, you can actually cook some dals on the stove in about 30 minutes, depending on the type of dal and the portion. So no more day to day use of the pressure cooker for me and good riddance. Now, its strictly me against the heat (or should I say “with” the heat) without the added pressure (hah, another pun!). Here, one way to go is to duplicate the steps with the slow cooker except with a pot on the stove. That is, you still mix the lentils, with three times the water, and the tumeric and let it boil on the stove until the dal has cooked (is all soft). Now, I’m at the same point as if I had used the slow cooker and came home. I still have to flavor it which I do by using a butter warmer. In it, I heat up grapeseed oil with cumin seeds, asofetida, cayenne papper and cut-up green chili peppers. I heat over a low flame until the cumin seeds start to sizzle. Then I pour it into the dal and cook another 20 minutes until that flavor has made its way through the whole pot. This is the most basic way to make dal.

I just learned another way from my new face cook, Survir Sarvan. (More on him later) In his book, American Masala, he has a recipe for “Not So Dull Dal.” In it, he develops the flavor first–heating jeera, tumeric, jalapeno and even salt with onions in oil (he has other flavorings too which I’ll post when I get home)–then allows the lentils to roast in that heat for a few minutes (with a splash of water) and then adds the lentils with the water. It only takes about 35 minutes for it to cook after that but the flavors are nicely diffused through the entire pot and its DELICIOUS.

I bet my next step will be to cook the flavoring first, dump that mixture into the slow cooker, then add the lentils and water so that its slow cooked thoroughly by the time I come home. Slow cooking does seem to increase the flavor for most foods, and the slow cooker frees up that wait!

Cost effectiveness of Cooking:
Cost per serving (with oil, without spices): sixteen to eighteen cents a serving (?)(will update when I measure out).

From my cost per serving spreadsheet:
Masoor lentils: $0.22 per serving, including grapeseed oil and salt, but not indian spices.