This is one of a series of posts for Vegan MoFo 2010; my theme was a 'Virtual Random Road Trip', where I used random.org's random geographic location generator to select locations around the globe, I then attempted to cook a few dishes from the traditional cuisine of that place. I didn't have a lot of time between generating the locations and coming up with recipes (~ 1 day). So, lacking time to do proper research, I can't vouch for the authenticity of anything I came up with. However, they are what they are, and it was a fun theme.
Although Algeria boasts many wonderful sweet pastries and desserts, I just wasn't in the mood for more sweet stuff. So, the last taste of Algeria is a savory one. This is called either Garentita or Karentika, depending on how it's pronounced. According to what I read, this recipe is prevalent throughout Algeria.
It's sort of a soft cake/pastry made with chickpea flour and lightly flavored with cumin. According to the recipe I used, the basic formula does not vary too much, but everyone adds their own personal touch. Mine was a sprinkling of nigella seeds over the top before baking. It's common for this to be baked as one large cake, but the recipe I found baked it in individual-sized portions. I thought that was a good idea, so I followed suit.
Here's the basic recipe (you can find the original recipe here):
200g chickpea flour (I don't know how many cups because I'm crap at all the conversion stuff...it was probably about 1 generous cup worth)
600ml water/ 3 cups (that was easy because the conversions are right on my liquid measuring cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt (you could probably bring it up to 3/4 teaspoon if you wanted it a little saltier)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
harissa to garnish
Ad Hoc Note: Looking over a few more recipes online, I see that many call for milk ...so if you do make this you might want to try subbing in all or part of the water with a non-dairy milk, it would probably turn out a little tastier.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Put the chickpea flour in a large bowl and add half of the water (1.5 cups). Whisk very well, or blend with mixer until smooth. Add the salt, cumin, and add the rest of the water until you get the consistency of crepe batter. (I ended up using only 2.5 cups instead of 3.) Continue to mix until smooth. Finally, incorporate the oil and pour the batter into ramekins. Bake for ~ 30 minutes. A nice crust forms around the outside.
Allow to cool and remove from ramkins. Garnish with harissa.
In an effort to get pictures taken before the daylight faded too much, I took them out of the ramekins while they were still warm, and they crumbled a bit. I don't think that would happen if you allowed them to cool completely first. Although, on second thought...the recipe says to eat them warm out of the oven, so the crumbling was mostly likely just me.
What are they like on the inside? Well, let me try to find the words...they're sort of dense and soft. The flavor is mild and is very nicely complimented by the harissa. I thought they were ok, but to my surprise, my husband really liked them; he ate 3 all in one go.
I think if I made these again, I would mix them longer and with an electric mixer instead of a whisk, in hopes of a slightly fluffier texture. And I would only fill the ramekins 1/2 full instead of 2/3 full.
The cakes came out a bit darker than the pictures I saw, perhaps it was due to the fact that I used a combination of chickpea and fava flour...but I couldn't say for sure.
Do check out some these photos to get a much better idea of what you'd be aiming for, as opposed to what you see in this post.
Now for the next destination.
It seems like I've been seeing so many wonderful MoFo'ers whipping up delicious Ethiopian meals lately...my mouth just waters when I see a selection of savory legumes and veggies spread out across a big piece of injera...so I was hoping to land in Ethiopia for this stop...
At first glance, it looks like Slovakia, but when I zoomed in, I saw that the pointer was in Hungary.
Next stop Hungary.