The beautifully haunting solo cello suites of Bach simultaneously soothe and disturb. The perfection of the compositions is utterly satisfying and yet, a yearning is nonetheless experienced. For brooding types such as myself, Bach is often an occasion for reflection.
Consider the act of nourishment that paradoxically can become more complicated when you suddenly find yourself alone. As much as I like to cook, there is less incentive involved when the diner is just me, the cook. Not that I don’t enjoy the fruits of my labours, but I don’t relish the idea of eating the same dish for more than 3 days, yet cutting corners with bread and cheese and simple egg dishes quickly loses its appeal. Still, there is a certain satisfaction in indulging in whatever you wish, without witnesses, no matter the time of day or method of execution.
Craving something different and indulging my passion for Indian savory pancakes, I decided to make these gluten-free and dairy-free Chickpea Flour Pancakes (Pudla). I used some fresh chives, hot chilies and cilantro from my backyard potted garden and served them with sun-dried tomato chutney, but really, they are so tasty, you can just eat them without a condiment. I enjoyed these pancakes for a light dinner but they are good anytime of day and make for a great and tasty nourishing breakfast or brunch too. Though I usually read the newspaper or a book when I am eating alone, I declined to do so on this occasion because I wanted to concentrate on the delightful combination of flavours.
The recipe can be doubled or tripled with ease if you have dinner guests and your husband is not working late or on an extended business trip. The leftover chutney will keep in the fridge for a few days and is excellent with a variety of baked or fried savories and also a great spread for good quality crackers.
Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crushed Peas and Cilantro
1 cup of chickpea flour
2/3 teaspoon of ground cumin
generous dash of ground coriander
generous dash of turmeric
generous dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of water
2/3 cup of frozen peas, boiled for a few minutes and lightly mashed
2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
1 – 2 teaspoons of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
sesame oil for frying
In a medium bowl, sift together the chickpea flour, cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon, pour in the water, taking care to remove any lumps. Stir in the mashed peas, chopped chili peppers, ginger and cilantro. Set aside for 20 – 30 minutes.
Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a small nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, ladle 1/4 – 1/3 cup of batter into the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook for another minute or so, or until browned. Transfer to a plate and fry up the rest of the batter, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.
Serves 1 – 2
Sun-Dried Tomato Chutney
12 sun-dried tomatoes
2 – 4 dried red chillies, broken into bits
2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Begin by soaking the sun-dried tomatoes and dried chilies in hot or boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a food processor along with the chopped tomatoes and salt. Process until smooth. Heat the oil over medium-low heat. When hot, fry the paste for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until it is slightly thickened.
Yields roughly a scant cup.