Super Fly Fries

While poring through cookbooks for cocktail-nosh inspiration, I got sidetracked -- thank goodness. The culprit: a recipe for panisse, also known as chickpea fries. Yes, you read that right; you can make fries from chickpea flour, and once you do, you may never want fries of the potato variety ever again. They’re THAT good. Common in the south of France, panisse are also known as panelle along the Meditterrean coast of Italy.

(Kim O'Donnel)

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of my first panisse experience at Kinkead's in D.C., overcome by their deliciousness while pondering how one actually makes fries from chickpea flour. With the help of pastry chef Francois Payard’s gem of a little book, “Bite Size,” now I know: You cook the chickpea flour with liquid until it becomes a paste, which is poured into a pan and allow to set up in the fridge. Within an hour, the paste takes on curd-like properties, resembling tofu. It’s thick enough to slice into “fries” which are crisped in oil and within two minutes, the panisse swooning will commence.

Panisse out of the fridge, now curd-like and able to be sliced. (Kim O'Donnel)

Eaten by their lonesome with salt and pepper or with your favorite condiment, panisse bring a whole new meaning to the word “fry.” Super fly is more like it.

P.S. Still looking for that cocktail nosh for the Easter dinner we’ve been invited to…

Panisse Fries
Adapted from “Bite Size” by Francois Payard

1 quart chicken stock (KOD: I used water; you could also use veg stock)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste (I recommend at least 2 teaspoons)
ground white pepper (black pepper kinda sticks out like a sore thumb)
2 ½ cups chickpea flour
1 quart vegetable oil with high smoking point, such as peanut, safflower or grapeseed


Line a 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper (KOD: with an overhang to help lift out of pan). Place liquid and olive oil in a small pot and season with salt and pepper. Warm liquid slightly over low heat; then whisk in chickpea flour until mixture is smooth. Turn heat to high and whisk continuously until flour is cooked and turns into a thick paste, 4-5 minutes.

Remove from heat and spread evenly into prepared pan. Refrigerate until batter is completely chilled, at least one hour.

When ready to fry, pour oil in a deep skillet or wok. Clip a deep-frying thermometer to the side of the pan and heat oil to 400 degrees.

Carefully lift panisse out of pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch-long strips. (KOD: the texture will be curdlike, resembling tofu.) Gently drop strips into oil in small batches and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Do not crowd the pan and maintain oil at a steady 400 degrees (KOD: Don’t stray from pan; the fries cook very quickly and easily burn.)

When done, remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

By Kim ODonnel |  April 10, 2009; 8:00 AM ET Entertaining
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Hm... I have a cooking magazine from Italy with this in there, though I've never tried it (it had a whole section on chickpea flour cooking). I'll have to dig it out and look at it again and try it out.

Do you have any recommendations on the type or brand of chickpea flower? I think I've seen bags of it at My Organic Market by Bob's Red Mill (?).

I have tried to make socca (aka, soca or farinata or ???), but it never seems to come out quite right. Do you have any experience with this?

Posted by: ArlingtonSMP | April 10, 2009 9:07 AM

ArlingtonSMP, as you may know, I made Indian-style chickpea crepes a few crepes a few weeks ago, and they came out great. Not quite as thin as socca, but delicious nonetheless. Yep, the Bob's brand will do you just fine; you can also try your nearest Indian grocery for the flour.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | April 10, 2009 11:08 AM

Hi Kim -
I have cooked chickpea flour as suggested but mine became something much more like polenta, even after refrigerating It was very good, but am not sure how to get to be a curd. Also, I made your crepe recipe - it was completely terrific!
Hope your new chat site is working out - am always at a meeting then so will look after/before live time.
newton mom

Posted by: NewtonMom | April 10, 2009 2:01 PM

Your timing couldn't be better! I just had panisse for the first time at Bouchon in Vegas and they were so good. I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

Posted by: ArlingtonAllison | April 10, 2009 2:43 PM

When I went looking for chick pea flour (for another recipe -Spanish seafood pancakes -maybe that's your cocktail food?) all I could find is a combination chick pea/ fava bean flour -would this work?

Posted by: amelie11 | April 10, 2009 3:00 PM

amelie11, i know of what you speak but have yet to try this combo flour. it *should* work, but i don't know 100 percent. anyone w/ experience using combo chickpea/fava flour?

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | April 10, 2009 3:25 PM

amelie11 - I can't quite remember but I believe a reader on the NYT Bitten blog (he wrote about panisse a few weeks back)tried it with the fava/chickpea combo and it did not work at all. I think it needs to be purely chickpea flour due to the water amount. Similar to what would happen if you tried to make polenta with a flour/corn meal mix. Hope this helps!

Posted by: FormerDC1 | April 10, 2009 8:27 PM

This sounds fascinating! For that Easter nosh... how about Scotch Eggs! Don't forget the Branston Pickle. :)

Posted by: tresa_mie | April 11, 2009 5:31 PM

Can these be pan fried or done as oven fries? [Probably not. DFF is so good and so bad.]

I love tresa's suggestion. Branson pickle and cheddar is still one of my favorite sandwiches.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 13, 2009 12:29 AM

I am so sad! I tried to make these fries and followed the recipe exactly. I was so excited to try them. I love chickpea crepes so these looked delightful. But these fries came out awful. The mixture was really thick when it went into the refrigerator, but it came out a goopey mess. Nothing curd like. I tried to cook the sludge, but it didn't work. I wasted a very expensive bag of chickpea flour and a box of veggie stock. Normally I love the blog and have little trouble with any recipes. Any idea what went wrong?

Posted by: rrayasam | April 13, 2009 7:06 PM

Rrayasam, I'm really sorry to hear this. Curious about that flour -- was it a mix of chickpea and fava bean, by any chance? This could be the culprit, based on what you describe. Incidentally, chickpea flour is fairly inexpensive at Indian groceries, where it's known as besan or gram flour, should you decide to try again.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | April 13, 2009 8:34 PM

We're giving this one a go tonight (says the bleary eyed Blade working on his taxes). Just gotta figure out to pair it with something.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 15, 2009 12:20 AM

Ok, these little puppies rock.

I think I overcooked the masa a bit (it reminded me of making tamales), so the mixture didn't entirely coat the bottom of the pan. No biggie, but I didn't get flat bottoms. The other tricky bit was getting the oil temperature right. I was heating the oil when I discovered I needed a candy therm to keep an eye on the oil temperature. The oil was a bit too cool for the first batch (remedied by giving them a second dip

They're terrific with mayo or ketchup. The owner of my favorite wine store (Unwined in Alexandria) recommended a Chenin Blanc which was a perfect match. A white Rhone wine would work well.



Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 15, 2009 9:54 PM

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