Archive for March, 2008

Much chickpeas are consumed chez foodmonkey. I’m on a temporary no-hummus regimen due to rehab-related issues. That doesn’t mean I can’t work chickpeas in here and there in other ways.

Today I tried something I’ve been meaning to make for a while: “Lablabi” a blended chickpea soup out of Olive Trees and Honey. I gather it’s a North African thing. I normally don’t post recipes straight out of cookbooks out of respect for the author, copy right and such. I thought I’d break that rule here, because I can’t imagine there aren’t a thousand versions of this already on the internets.


It’s sort of like hummus soup minus the tehina (hummus is the Arabic and Hebrew word for “chickpea,” so I guess it is in fact hummus soup). Very very tasty. Totally hit the spot for me. I suppose you could eat it with a few toasted wedges of pita if you were feeling ambitious, but I was lazy so I didn’t. I think the more “authentic” way is to leave more whole chickpeas in there, I think I will next time. Trust me, there will be a next time.

Here goes:

Lablabi — North African Chickpea Soup

2 1/2 cups dried chickpeas

olive oil

1 onion

3 carrots

1 small celeriac

3 big cloves of garlic

10 cups of water

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp harissa

1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin

freshly ground black pepper


juice of 2 fresh lemons

1 bunch of parsley, chopped


Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and throw out any bad ones. Soak over night in a bowl of water. I’m a bit pedantic and like to change the water a few times, but that’s just me). Also, I like to add a tablespoon or so of baking soda to the soaking water, this helps the chickpeas get tender later on.

Now for the actual cooking:

Chop the onion. Fry in a large heavy bottomed pan in the oil over a low heat until transparent and soft. In the meanwhile, chop the carrots and the celeriac. Crush the garlic. Add to the onions and fry for a while longer until everything is soft and aromatic. Rinse the chickpeas, add. Pour in the water and add the bay leaves. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until some of the chickpeas begin to break and they are soft enough so that they make a non-grainy mush when you crush them with a spoon. Add the harissa, pepper and cumin. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. Fish out the bay leaves.

Let cool a little. Blend quickly in a food processor or blender (I like to leave a little bit of chunkiness.) Add salt to taste and stir in lemon juice. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and eat.


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Chickpea Farinata is a recipe from Cranks’ Bible that has become a standby in my kitchen. It is super easy to make and makes a nice change from bread. It’s all chickpea flour and water, but it turns out sort of like a frittata or a thick pancake. I like to eat it fresh or heated for breakfast.

I believe it is Southern Italian or Sicilian in origin. Nadine Abensur gives a few suggestions for toppings, tomatoes, olives and eggplants among them. I’ve tried all of the above and they are very tasty. The version pictured is my own though, and grew out of the fact that I have a huge amount of za’atar at home and want to use some of it up. Even though it’s an Italian recipe I think it works nicely with more Levantine spices and accessories.

250 g chickpea flour

750 ml warm water

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup za’atar


3 tbsp olive oil plus extra for the za’atar and for the dish

Whisk the water into the chickpea flour a little at a time so as to avoid lumps. Add the salt and the cumin. Nadine Abensur’s recipe says to let stand for at least 2 hours. This time I let it stand over night, but I’ve made it without letting it rest and to be honest I couldn’t really tell the difference.

Set the oven to 450 farenheit.

Mix the za’atar with some water and olive oil.

Add the olive oil, red pepper flakes and the black pepper to the chickpea batter.

Stick a casserole dish or oven-proof skillet in the oven with a little olive oil in it to coat. When the oil is hot and sizzling pour the batter in. Sprinkle with the za’atar and olives, or whatever toppings you want to use.

Let bake for about 15 minutes or until the batter has set and the top is golden brown.

Let rest for a while and then eat.

I like it about 1 inch thick. I have no idea if that’s authentic or not, but it’s damn tasty.

Chickpea Farinata

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I try to stay as seasonal as possible and mostly shop for vegetables at the farmers’ market. In New York City in March, this means pickings are rather slim. The most well-stocked farmers’ market is the one on Union Square, but even there we’re talking mostly different types of roots. I’ve pretty much done beets, carrots, parsnips and turnips to death at this point, so I figured I’d try a recipe based on celeriac.

I made the Celeriac Soup with Bouillabaisse Seasonings out of Cranks’ Bible and served with rouille as suggested.

Celeriac Bouillabaisse

The rouille recipe in the book was based on egg yolks, I figured I’d take a stab at egg-less rouille. Basically I used the same recipe but substituted silken tofu for eggs. I used 4 cloves of garlic, but think next time I will cut down on the amount of garlic, my rouille was very garlicky, probably because the tofu isn’t as fatty as egg yolk and thus doesn’t cut the garlic as much. It was still tasty though. Also, my rouille didn’t float on top of the soup as well as the rouille pictured in the cookbook. Next time I will try adding some tehina. I think that might help make it creamier and more bouyant, but then again, the flavor might be a bit off. A third option that I will try in the future is blending some white bread into it, I noticed many traditional rouille recipes involve bread.

As for the soup, it involved 1 carrot and about 1 kg celeriac, leeks, saffron, orange peel, lots of garlic, plenty of wine and a bunch of herbs. Next time I will add a little more carrot and maybe a potato and use a little less celeriac. It had sort of a bitter celeriac undertone that was ok, but not my favorite.

Here’s the recipe for vegan rouille:

Egg-less Rouille

1 packet of silken tofu (not the vacuum packed kind)

1 tsp paprika

a few dashes tabasco

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp tomato purée

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper

juice of half a lemon

a few tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Chop the pepper and garlic. Throw all ingredients in the blender. Blend. Add a trickle of oil while blending.

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Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and I was feeling happy and healthy for the first time in almost two weeks after a nasty run in with the flu. Mondays are normally my work at home day where I get freelance work and school stuff out of the way, but in celebration of my health and the weather I decided to play hooky a little. After a failed attempt at some reporting in the city I gave up and went to Sahadi’s instead.


For those who don’t know, Sahadi’s is a gourmet food store on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn that specializes in Lebanese and other Middle Eastern foods. They have a bulk section that is out of this world. Every kind of spice, nut, grain, and bean you can imagine. Pickles and olives of every description, dried bananas, strawberries… you name it, Sahadi’s has it. And, the prices are noticeably lower than most other stores, which is surprising considering the quality and range of their merchandise.

Long story short, it is my idea of a good time and I try to make it there about once a month or so to stock up on high quality staples and specialty items I can’t find elsewhere.

Yesterday I bought frozen large fava beans, mini dried fava beans to make fool mudamma, kasha at a fraction of the price of Arrowhead Mills, Italian tomato paste in a tube (can’t stand the canned stuff) vinegars, oils and more. All for little more than $10. I hope to chronicle my kitchen exploits with these items on this blog in the near future.

Then I went home and made egg-less vegan rouille to go with a soup I am planning to make tomorrow. More on that in next post.

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