By Annick Dournes & Frédéric de Poligny
February 10 will be the “World Pulses Day” and a good opportunity to travel the world through exotic recipes where these staple and versatile foods have the place of honour.
Pulses also known as legumes have been part of our diet since the dawn of time. These edible seeds are packed with nutrients particularly rich in proteins. Our ancestors who were not able to eat meat every day cultivated beans, chickpeas, broad beans or split peas to make hearty nutritious food and get their fill of protein. Today they are unfairly dismissed from our daily menus. The “World Pulses Day” invites us to rediscover their great properties as well as ancient or new ways to enjoy them.
So many good reasons to eat legumes
Rich in soluble fibre and low in fat they can help us control cholesterol and blood sugar. As a great source of plant-based protein they are the very best friends of vegetarian recipes. They are also rich in iron, potassium and folate. As low glycaemic index foods they should be included in the diet of people with diabetes or for those who aim to loose weight. Not to forget that they all are gluten free making them great alternative foods for coeliacs and gluten intolerants.
Touring the world with pulses recipes
Eating pulses shouldn’t always come down to canned baked beans or humus. There are countless recipes from around the world that can make a tasty change in our daily meals. Here are some of our favourite.
This is a classic Greek recipe and a must on all Taverna’s menu. Fasolada or fasoulada simply means fava bean in Greek. This very popular dish actually is a soup made with fava beans or white beans, olive oils and vegetables. You will find plenty of fasolada recipes on the net and fins out that this slow cooking soup is very easy to make. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you have at hand to create your own recipe.
Dahl undoubtedly is a staple food in India and every chef has his own recipe using lentils, beans or chickpeas cooked with vegetables and spices. Quickly made, you will enjoy it on its own as a main vegetarian dish or as a side dish. Once again there are dozens of recipes on the net to inspire you, just add your choice of spices to get one in tune with your taste.
Iranian baghala ghatogh
Baghala ghatogh (pronounced bogolo goto), is a very popular dish from Northern Iran. It’s made with peeled fava beans simmered in water with olive oil, garlic, turmeric and a lot of dill. Once cooked and still very hot you need to break eggs on top of it and let them cook without stirring. Often served with rice it is a delicious complete vegetarian dish.
Russian pea balls
This recipe uses split peas just boiled and put in a blender with marrow, caraway seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, pine nuts, cow berries or cranberries. The paste is simply turned into balls and covered with a horseradish sauce and sprinkled with roasted pine nuts.
This is the national dish in Egypt. When travelling in Egypt you will often see fool street vendors and their picturesque cart supporting a big “qidra”, the big caldron where the foul slowly cooks. Made with fava beans, oil, lemon and cumin it is usually eaten with pieces of bread called baladi that is used as a spoon. This ancient kind of street food is eaten on the banks of the Nile since the time of the pharaohs. It is now becoming more and more trendy and served in good restaurants where you can enjoy it without being afraid of ‘tourista”!
This meat and chickpea stew is very popular all along the Andes Mountain range. It is traditionally made with a local variety of potato named “papa chola” said to give the dish a unique flavour. But you can of course make it with any other potato. The recipe mixes veal and pork meat slowly cooked with chickpeas, potatoes, chorizo cut into slices and plenty of herbs and spices such as garlic, sweet paprika, red chilli flakes, oregano, cumin, scallions, lemon juice… Only for large appetite!
Socca undoubtedly is the iconic dish of the Niçoise cuisine but it’s been a traditional southern dish known under various names all along the Mediterranean coasts. It’s called Farinata in Italy, panisse on the Riviera, cade in Toulon, calentita in Spain or karantita on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea in Algeria. Although they may differ from one another they are all basically made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil and a little salt and pepper. The socca from Nice is a large and thin savoury pancake cooked on a copper baking-tray in a pizza oven. While baking the socca takes on an appetizing golden colour and is taken off the oven when the first burnt spots appear on top. It is a perfect snack street food and can also be eaten with taramasalata or aubergine dip… with a glass of rosé.
Mediterranean vegan pâté
This vegetarian pâté is a perfect example of the healthy Mediterranean diet. You will easily make it with red kidney beans, avocado, tahini and olive oil. Add any herb or spice you like. It will make a nice change to the usual guacamole.
Lets end our list that is far from being exhaustive, with two legume-based sweets. Legumes are great to make gluten free desserts.
Red bean chocolate fondant
This is a healthy high protein and gluten free dessert. This chocolate fondant is nicely soft and doesn’t taste like bean at all. A real treat! Mix together 9 oz cooked red bean, 7 oz melted chocolate, 2 oz butter, 3 eggs and 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Bake for 15 minutes in a moderate oven and treat yourself!
Chocolate and chickpea cookies
Mix well 9 oz cooked chickpeas with 5 oz peanut butter, 3 oz sugar, 2 oz fresh cream, 3 oz chocolate chips, 1 tea spoon baking soda, 1 oz flour and a drop of vanilla extract. Bake your cookies for 15 min, oven to 360° F. Time to ask your friends if they can guess what ingredients you used to make these delicious cookies!
More about World Pulses Day and plenty of recipes at: www.un.org/en/observances/world-pulses-day
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Annick Dournes and X.