Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Arabesque: Chickpeas & Zucchini Pancakes

That was one of the strangest, most fantastic things I've ever made: Chickpeas with Toasted Bread and Yogurt (Fattet Hummus Bi Laban) from Claudia Roden's Arabesque

You cook chickpeas until tender and toast some pita. Mix yogurt with tahini and fry a handful of pine nuts. Then spread the pita on the bottom of a dish, pour over the hot chickpeas along with some of their liquid, and top with the yogurt and pine nuts. 

I was struggling to describe this myself, but I'll quote Roden: It "may sound heavy but it is surprisingly light and delicate in the eating, and the mix of textures, temperatures, and flavors is a joy."

Beautifully put. An incredible dish. 

Also: easy.
On the side we had zucchini pancakes. My mother used to make zucchini pancakes that were just egg and shredded zucchini, and after we got over being fooled by the word "pancake" my sister and I turned against them. 

It would be hard to turn against Roden's messy, delicious zucchini pancakes because of all the mashed feta cheese and herbs (dill and mint) which, to quote Roden again, "lift what is an otherwise bland vegetable."

Having said that, I'm not sure my children even tried them, but I am trying to avoid screaming fights and dinner table power struggles. So I let it go.

For dessert: Milk Ice Cream with Gum Mastic and Rose Water.

Here's Roden's headnote: "A brilliant white milk ice cream with a chewy texture made with sahlab, the ground-up root tuber of  a member of the orchid family, is very difficult to make successfully at home, so here is a modern version that I also love. It is without sahlab, so not chewy, but the traditional flavoring of mastic and rose water give it a special appeal."

I saw gum mastic at the Spanish Table the other day, bought a little jar to make this ice cream. I was hoping for something exotic, rosy, and maybe just a tiny bit chewy. This wasn't it. This was a "brilliant white," superrich ice cream with no discernible flavor of rose or gum mastic (whatever that tastes like.) And it was wonderful.

I still wish it had been chewy, but for that I may have to go to Beirut.


  1. Melvil Dewey10/8/08, 12:47 PM

    That looks and sounds fantastic! On a related note, I think that before George W. Bush leaves office you should do some cooking from "Cuisines of the Axis of Evil."

  2. I beg to differ. My zucchini pancakes contained egg, fresh crushed garlic, salt, pepper, grated parmesan cheese and often random addition of herbs. Still love them. Last time added fresh corn, which was even more amazing.
    And not at all sloppy!!


  3. But how much grated Parmesan, Mom? A teaspoon? A tablespoon? These are basically feta pancakes with zucchini. Just served another batch tonight. Yours were healthier, but these are wicked.