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Recipe Tue Jan 26 2010
I started exploring Persian cooking this year with one of the most authoritative books on the subject: Najmieh Batmanglij's New Food for Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies. Until recently, I had tinkered only with savory dishes like fesenjan. But then I found myself looking for a simple and gluten-free dessert to bring to a dinner party.
I decided to make a version of bereshtook-e nokhodchi or "Roasted Chick-pea Cake." Unlike many gluten-free cakes and cookies, which require more than one type of alternative flour, starch and a gum (e.g. xanthan or guar), I was drawn to the Persian dessert because it called for a mere five, easy-to-find, relatively inexpensive ingredients. I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry from my last visit to Al-Khaymeih Market (4738 N. Kedzie). The recipe also did not require any baking.
I adapted Batmanglij's recipe for what is now one of my favorite gluten-free desserts.
Persian Roasted Chickpea-Cardamom Cookies
Makes 36+ cookies
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: None apart from stir-frying the chickpea flour and cooling the final cookies
1 cup corn or other neutral oil
2 cups of confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 tablespoons rose water
3 1/2 cups sifted chickpea flour (also known as gram flour or besan)
Heat oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet until very hot. Add the chickpea flour and stir fry for 5-10 minutes, breaking up any clumps that form, until all of the flour is golden brown. Remove from heat and in the same skillet add the confectioners' sugar, cardamom and rose water. Mix thoroughly and pack firmly into a 9 x 13" baking pan. (I used a back of a spoon to level the surface of the dough.) Cut into squares (or rectangles if you are geometrically challenged like I am).
In the final cookies, the roasted flavor of the chickpea flour was more pronounced than I expected. It had a woody profile that may be an acquired taste, but which I enjoyed, especially offset by the notes of cardamom and rose water. The texture was moist and crumbly, a cross between a bar dessert and shortbread, which I am guessing is why bereshtook-e nokhodchi is sometimes translated as "chickpea cake."
Bereshtook-e nokhodchi is nearly identical to laddu, an Indian dessert of which I am fond, made from ghee, chickpea (or other) flour, sugar and cardamom. Whatever the name, I am happy to be able to make these simple, celiac-friendly treats at home.
Got chickpeas and don't want to make chickpea flour? Make Garbanzo Bean Brownies.