Friday, January 9, 2009

24 Cans of Chickpeas

Back when the CH and I first started buying from the Foreign Buyer's Club (FBC), they only sold food in complete cases and a lot of the items they offered were not available in Japanese markets. With access to food we hadn't seen for awhile came a lot of purchases of huge quantities of items. More often than not, canned items that we'd enthusiastically embrace at first would languish under our shelves for years until they grew rusty and outdated. I hate to imagine how much money we wasted on food that was thrown out.

These days, the need to buy an entire case of some food has been greatly lessened by the plethora of imports in run-of-the-mill Japanese shops and the FBC's changed shopping options which allow you to frequently buy single items. We try not to buy a case of anything unless we're sure that we'll eat it regularly enough to finish it off. In some situations, however, there is such a vast discrepancy between the cost of an item as a single unit in a Japanese market and the per unit price when buying a case from the FBC, that I'll leap in and buy more than I think I can make.

That is where this post comes in. When I decided to make hummus for some guests awhile back, I picked up a can of chick peas (garbanzo beans) for a whopping 400 yen ($4.39 USD). The hummus was a huge hit, and I wanted to make it again for a more reasonable price. I also wanted to be able to make Chana Masala occasionally, but not at such a high cost for something which is so low on the food chain and really should be part of a cheap, vegetarian meal. The FBC carries a store brand of garbanzo beans for about 160 yen a can, but you have to buy 24 cans at once. Before I allowed myself to buy so many, I had to make a commitment mentally to using them at regular intervals, even if it meant making a special effort and trying a variety of new recipes. The situation, incidentally, is complicated by the fact that my husband won't eat chick peas.

The first new recipe I tried was Butter Chickpea Curry, though I modified the original recipe a bit as it includes condensed tomato soup and I both do not have it available and don't like using pre-prepared food if I can avoid it. It turned out very well, but I want to make something other than hummus and Indian dishes. It's not that I don't like them, but rather that I'd like to use a variety of flavors.

I'd tried making chick pea patties once before with pretty bad results. They tasted okay, but the texture was gummy and unpleasant. This time around, I got a much better result, one that is worth keeping around and making again.

Chick pea (garbanzo bean) patties:

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 very, very small green pepper (piman), finely diced
1/2 large tomato, diced
1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans/chick peas
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper (to taste)
1/4 tsp. cilantro
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. parsley
1 egg
1/2-3/4 cup dry, unseasoned bread crumbs
canola oil and butter for cooking

Heat enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a skillet. Saute the garlic over medium heat until softened and fragrant. Turn up the heat to high and cook the onions until softened. Add the peppers cook them until softened. Finally, add the tomato and cook the mixture until most of the moisture has cooked away. It'll resemble a coarse paste when finished. Stir the salt and pepper into the vegetable mixture. Keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't burn. Turn the heat down if necessary. The moisture of each added ingredient should keep it from burning.

Put the vegetable paste in a small bowl food processor and add the parsley, cilantro, and oregano. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Add them to the food processor and process it into a rough mixture. You may need to scrape down the bowl a few times. Add the egg and process until the mixture becomes a wet, loose paste. Turn this mixture into a larger bowl and stir in bread crumbs. Mix in 1/2 cup at first and allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes and see if it is firm enough to form patties. If it's still too wet, add another 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. It shouldn't be sticky, but it should be soft and hold its shape.

Separate the dough into 4 parts and make a flat patty from each part. Heat butter in a skillet (use oil if you like, but it'll brown and taste better with butter) and fry each patty over medium-high heat on each side until cooked through and nicely browned.

I ate mine with fresh homemade bread and butter. I think that they'd be good with mayonnaise and mustard in a sandwich, too.


Kelly said...

You have no idea how i love you at this moment Orchid!

About a month ago there was a chickpea sale on at the supermarket and i bought a few cans of them, thinking i would make some nice recipes (i was on a health food kick at the time) and i've never ever touched them.

Yasu is not very receptive to chickpeas either, probably because he's never eaten them and is not game to try them. I think i'll use your recipe tonight!! I know Yasu likes patties, so hopefully we can get rid of those chickpeas in this way...

Thanks for the post!

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Kelly, and many thanks for your comment! Also, I'm sorry that I haven't e-mailed you yet. Things have been a little busy lately.

I hope you enjoy the recipe. I had another patty later as a snack, this time with mayonnaise on a sandwich and it reheated well. In fact, I think I liked the reheated one better!

In the future, you can probably expect a few more of these recipes (if I'm successful). I've only used three cans so far and I have a long way to go! ;-)

Shawn said...

The timing of this article is funny (although I knew you were planning the attempt), as I had just decided that I wanted to make an attempt at some homemade hummus myself this weekend. Is the link you listed in this post the recipe you used? Would you suggest any changes? I found one from the Kitchn, but I'm happy to find modifications that sound interesting :)

Orchid64 said...

The link is the recipe I made and the only thing I did differently was not garnish it with olive oil as I feel my oil isn't fresh enough. I also didn't use any spice for presentation as my dexterity wasn't up to doing it attractively. I garnished mine with pan toasted pine nuts.

I think I may have used one more small clove of garlic, but nothing very different. The Desert Candy recipe is fabulous. However, I think it'd be interesting to try Hummus bel Snoobar(Hummus with Pine Nuts) because pint nuts are so good, but also the name is cool. ;-) She lists a bunch of variations without recipes at the bottom and you could try any one of those. Good luck and I look forward to your results on your blog!

Helen said...

I have no idea why, but every time I see the title of this entry I keep singing the song "24 hours from Tulsa" which has NOTHING to do with chickpeas!

Sorry. (Slinks away, hanging head in embarrassment!)

'badmoodguy' is mike said...

With two dozen cans of chickpeas, you should open an Indian restaurant! That'd be a trip ... an Indian restaurant in Japan run by an American.

Now I'm in the mood for Indian food.