Saturday, November 13, 2010

Karentika, Garentita

**Post Factum:** 
This is one of a series of posts for Vegan MoFo 2010; my theme was a 'Virtual Random Road Trip', where I used'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 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 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 mouth just waters when I see a selection of savory legumes and veggies spread out across a big piece of I was hoping to land in Ethiopia for this stop...

But no.

At first glance, it looks like Slovakia, but when I zoomed in, I saw that the pointer was in Hungary.

Next stop Hungary.


  1. "......get a much better idea of what you'd be aiming for, as opposed to what you see in this post."

    ohhhhh thats sounded so sad! i love the golden color you got! i have been having lots of trouble with too dense baked foods lately.

    i loved my trip to Algeria!

  2. Oh my god, this is so right up my personal alley. I hardly had a post on my own blog yesterday because your wonderful Algerian soup inspired me to make something similar, though more Spanish and with dumplings, and I frankly ate way too much of it and was too carbed-out to post. I do think that pure chickpea flour would have got you a lighter product, though I'm sure yours was delicious. Hungary...ooh, this is a first class road trip!

  3. They look beautiful, Rose! I love the colour as well, and the seeds and harissa on top look pretty. I'd love to try one.

  4. Mmmm... these look perfectly wonderful! I love foods like this, I'm going to have to make these for sure! I haz no ramekins though, do you think a regular sized muffin pan would work or would it be too small? What size ramekins did you use?

    I love the delicate red blossom on the plate, it goes prettily with the harissa. (And aren't those your infamous butt-sniffing birds I see in the background?) ;-)

    LOL re: "I'm crap at this conversion stuff." Me too, and I'm even worse at reading French! (Are you fluent, or are you using a translator thingy?)

    I've really enjoyed Algeria, and look forward to exploring Hungary with you as our ever-trusty guide. (Landing in a country named Hungary for Vegan MoFo is awfully appropriate, you must admit, but perhaps the Gods of Randomness will smile on you yet and land you in Ethiopia before the month is over!)

    And hasn't your blog's URL been just perfect for your fun MoFo theme? "Fly Away Vegan" indeed!

  5. These look really good, Rose! Chickpea flour gives things such good taste. Yum! The seeds on top are a very nice touch, too.

  6. Interesting.. those are really similar to my besan flabread, just baked... also known as socca in French cuisine... which makes sense given history.. ( how fun would it be to take a food history class! I wanna ! )

    I can't wait to see what you come up with for hungarian food.

  7. I agree, these do look really good. I love different breads. They do look like sweets with the red topping - you would have to warn me it's harissa!

    Hungarian food should be fun. Plus, nobody's stopping you from doing Ethiopian...

  8. They really do look like little sweets. I really like the flavor of cumin, and these look really interesting.

  9. So you would consider them a side dish? They look like something Mr. SV would enjoy.

  10. DirtyDuck

    It was a little sad, but my husband ate them all with I guess the color/texture didn't turn him off. I enjoyed Algeria too, probably me fav place so far. :)


    I hope you took pics of your rechta/dumpling version: I would love to see it and know what tweaks you gave it! Sounds really good. Thanks for the info on the pure chickpea flour too.


    Thanks, they were certainly interesting to make...I have cooked with chickpea flour before, but never baked with it as the only type of flour.


    Muffin tins would be fine for these...or even a large baking dish...I think if I made them again, I would only fill each ramekin with about 1 or 1.5 inches worth...most of the photos I've seen make it look like a 2-inch high cake thing.

    Can you believe have two different pairs of butt-sniffing birds? I hadn't thought of it that way before, but maybe I have some sort of problem with that...(not really, ? lol)

    As for the French, I took 4 years of college French, like a class every quarter for 4 years, so I can still read it pretty well. I used to be fluent speaking it, but I've gone a bit rusty...

    Glad you liked Algeria, it has been my favorite destination so far. Still hoping for Ethiopia soon. Good point about the URL...I can't remember why I chose that...must have been prophetic LOL. :)


    I agree about the chickpea does give a nice flavor.


    This totally reminded me of your besan flatbread! I have some of the batter left over and I think I'm going try using it for a besan flatbread wrap...I still want to try your batter recipe too though!

    Food history is so interesting! Sounds like a great idea for a class, and you'd be an excellent teacher! I'd sign up.


    Ha ha, so true: it's my blog and I can go Ethiopia if I want to! :D


    I know I thought the harissa on top would food the eye a little...when I saw the pics in the recipe I used, it fooled me too...I thought they were sweets at first.


    Sure, these could be a snack or a side seems that sometimes it's even put in bread and eaten like a sandwich. Maybe it's a guy thing: I wouldn't be over-the-moon about these but my other half did like them.

  11. I think your pastries look much more beautiful on the outside than the ones in the pictures you recommended. The inside seems similar. I think I may not be a total chickpea flour fan but I'm working on it. :} I very much enjoyed your post. (I have a good recipe for pierogi.)

  12. I think I would love those chickpea cakes!

  13. Andrea

    Oooh, pierogi, now that is something I have never made, but would love to....I've seen them served with sauerkraut (is that right?). Hope you post your pierogis when you get a chance.


    The cakes are quite mild; the harissa really made a good taste combo with them.

  14. Thank you for stopping by Nuestra-Cena Vegan Cuisine, I truly appreciate your comment, but the pretty lady on the picture with the pumpkin chocolate cookies is not me...that's my friend Jennifer from Gildingliliesjournal. You have a beautiful blog and I am going to add you to my blogroll.

  15. Millie

    I've had you in my blog roll for quite some time, but never commented until now! I love your cookie recipe swapping project! It's great!

    Oh, and you and Gilding Lilies are both lovely ladies as far as I can tell!

    Thanks for stopping by! :)

  16. You have the best mofo theme ever!! I can't wait to see what you make next...

  17. Thanks for the info about ramekins/muffin tins, I will try these in my muffin tin then! I'll also be trying them with unsweetened applesauce instead of oil, and we'll see how that works. Works well in all our bread and muffin recipes, don't know why it wouldn't work with these as well.

    You know, even though I know better, that harissa really looks like raspberry jam. That would be quite a surprise if you bit into these expecting raspberries!

    I read a disturbing article recently about butt-sniffing bird hoarders. Be careful! ;-)

  18. I haven't used chickpea flour yet. I have a ton of recipes that calls for it, but my local grocery store doesn't carry it....ugh
    Those little cakes sure do look good!
    I can't wait to see what Hungary has in store for us!

  19. Thanks Nicole. :)


    I think the applesauce will probably improve the recipe to be honest. They are on the bland side as they are...let me know what you think of them.


    Bummer about the chickpea flour. Maybe they could order some special for you. :)

  20. I've never had harissa before but it's so bright and vibrant!

  21. Oh these look really good and so different from the types of desserts I normally eat.
    You also only take daylight food pictures? I am the same way. It's always a rush to finish cooking in time and now with the time change, its getting dark at 4:30!

  22. Mo

    I agree, it is really vibrant color...I had never had it before recently my neighbor gave me a jar as a gift; I'm new to the world of harissa too.


    I know! In the summer it was so easy to catch the natural it's getting difficult. I've been getting up early to cook and take photos before work...the upside is that dinner is all ready when I get home!

    When I started blogging, I used to take really dark photos in my kitchen...the photos were not good, but I had no idea what a difference natural light makes!

    Oh, and it's not really a dessert, but meant as a savory be honest, after having eaten it, I could totally pass on this, but it was weird that my hubby really liked it...he's usually the pickier one.

  23. Hi,

    I really like your culinary pictures and I'm quite impressed by the appearance of your header images, as well as what they demonstrate.

    As someone allergic to gluten, I have recently discovery chickpea flour = besan (flour) = gram flour = cici flour = chana flour = garbanzo bean flour as a reasonably priced, when available, alternative to white mixes. Because of this I have been experimenting with many ways to use it, yesterday I made a tomato and herb stuffed French socca, so I can vouch for 'Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day' that they're similar, except in how they are cooked.

    In other recipes for Karentika I have seen that it is supposed to result in a dense custard; where as your recipe, while elegant and ethical, being sans egg is probably closer to an Italian farinata (which, as one person rated them as their favourite food, I assume I have failed in making) and if you did want to try to recreate the texture you would probably need some replacement agent. If your husband wants you to make it again I hope you can create one you enjoy as well.


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