This recipe comes from a vintage classic, Diet for a Small Planet (1971, Frances Moore-Lappé). This book, joint published by Friends of the Earth and Ballentine, is one of the first which pulls together environmentalism and nutrition, and has become short-hand for a certain kind of eating associated with the 1970s – all brown and fibrous, all the time.
The theory behind this book is that combining certain vegetables proteins gives equivalent nutrition to eating meat (more about that here). Various substances not normally found in my kitchen make frequent appearances in this book: skimmed milk powder, brewer’s yeast, soy flour. The recipes are grouped into protein matches, some of which sound more appetising than others: rice and yeast, peanuts and sunflower seeds, potatoes and milk.
About 2/3 of the recipes in the book are inedible to my taste, the names will tell you all you need to know: soy bean croquettes, nutty noodle casserole, sesame dream bars. However, there are some genuinely delicious recipes, the baked granola is the version I grew up eating (n.b. the brewer’s yeast included in this recipe is unnecessary for healthy development), the enchilada bake looks like a great mid-week family dish and I am informed that the cornbread recipe is excellent. A few of the recipes are actually fine, just scarily named – crusty cornbean pie is a vegetarian chilli, topped with corn bread and cheese.
- I don’t own onion or garlic salt, so I added more garlic and a big pinch of sea salt.
- I used black sesame seeds as I already had some around (their flavour is
a bit like burnt toast crusts, which I loverather more savoury and smokey than golden sesame seeds).
- I wasn’t sure if the recipe meant ‘1 cup of cooked chickpeas’ or ‘1 cup of dried chickpeas, which you then cook’, I decided on the former. The chickpeas I used were tinned and very small.
- I used mustard and chilli for flavouring, because ginger and chickpeas is an abomination.
This recipe didn’t work but was still very tasty. I don’t know if hotter fat (probably a butter and vegetable oil mix, rather than pure butter) would have fried the chickpeas until they were crispy, but following the recipe, I ended up with cooked, slightly golden chickpeas, but not crispy ones which could be picked up and eaten like crisps or popcorn, which is what I imagined. Perhaps the chickpeas I used were too wet (although I drained them and dried them in a tea towel)? Perhaps roasting them at a higher temperature would have worked.
In the end, I ate a portion of them with a fork. They were delicious and savoury and incredibly filling. In fact, after I had finished about a half a cup’s worth, with some bread, grilled courgette and carrot and feta salad, the whole lot sat in my stomach like pile of shrub prunings for the rest of the evening and I haven’t been able to look at a lentil since. Approach with caution.
Chickpea’d by Elly