Have you ever tried sprouting beans? I hadn’t until about a month ago. I was intimidated, with all the times I had forgotten beans into their soaking water and they fermented, by the expensive and complicated looking sprouting kits at the organic store, and, last but not least, by the fact that some sprouts are poisonous. I have never understood how sprouting works, other than it is an incredibly complex process, involving structural changes in the biochemistry of a seed, which means that what you eat is going to be different. In most cases, better.
At any rate, so far I have sprouted mung beans and chickpeas. At the beginning I tried sprouting for novelty, because beans taste different once sprouted, but I did not expect this trend to last. I don’t even like eating sprouts in general, apart from the occasional cress garnish here and there. Well, I sprouted them once, I sprouted them twice, and now somehow every week I find myself with a batch of something sprouting around. Is it spring approaching, despite of the cold? I found the whole process fits quite well into my food schedule. It is just a matter of fitting sprouting times into your schedule, and not vice versa, like Elizabeth David taught me to do with bread. Once sprouted – which takes two days – you just stick your chickpeas into the fridge and use them when you need. They cook quickly – a mere ten minutes steaming – so it is very convenient to pick a handful, cook them and add them warm to lunch salad or dinner soup. I like the way they taste, somehow sweeter than normal chickpeas, and crunchier, because they are cooked for a shorter time.
Or, for a very special Friday night dinner, save yourself half an hour, or a tiny bit more, and make falafel. I’m sure you already love falafel. Well, according to recent estimates, home-made falafel are reported to be ten million times better than any store-bought ones. And, with this recipe at least, they are less fussy than what I remembered. My house did not even smell of fried stuff! The last time I made falafel I must have been in high school. It was an experiment with my girlfriends: we started with canned chickpeas and ended up throwing away more than a batch, totally melted in the frying oil. These little beauties are very easy to work with, however they do absorb quite a lot of the frying oil, so no fooling here, this is not health food. But worth each and every of its calories.
How to sprout chickpeas:
You can sprout as many or as little as you like. I usually find that a good quantity is 200 gr for my weekly food needs. I’d like to point out that the variations in timing are there for your convenience – I have surely explored both ends of the interval, and even stretched them considerably, and never had a problem.
1) Wash and soak the chickpeas for 8-12 hours. Choose a relatively shallow and large bowl: the chickpeas like to sprout with a lot of air. Watch your room temperature: if it is very hot they may start fermenting and smell a bit, in which case you may want to change the water with fresh cold one. In my quite cold apartment I have soaked them for up to 24 hours with no harm.
2) Drain and rinse in a large colander. Put back on the same bowl you used for soaking. Repeat every 8-12 hours for a total of 3-4 times. In between keep the chickpeas in an aerated space – I found that a corner of my kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, works well. I’ll let you know what happens in summer where there is much more light.
3) Give the chickpeas a final rinse, then let them dry well by leaving them half an hour on the colander, or using a kitchen towel. Put in a smaller container or even a food plastic bag and store in the fridge for up to five days.
Makes about 20
200 gr sprouted chickpeas
1 large onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 small bunch parsley, chopped
2 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a few tablespoons of sesame seeds, mixed with a bit of breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoon yogurt (leave out if you want a vegan meal, and add a bit more lemon juice)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
Whizz the sprouted chickpeas, raw, using a handheld blender or a food processor. Grind the spices together. Add chopped onion, garlic, spices, baking powder, lemon juice and chopped coriander or parsley. Taste seasoning, then whizz again until smooth. Chill for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the tahini sauce: whisk all the ingredients together, adding a bit more water or yoghurt depending on how creamy you like it. Take the chickpeas out of the fridge, and make little balls with about 1/2 tablespoon of the mixture each. Pat into flat disks, and roll them in sesame seeds and breadcrumbs. Put on a dish. When all the mixture is rolled, put on the fridge to chill well (this is important or they will break more easily when cooking). Let them rest at least half an hour, but overnight works too. When ready to eat, heat the oil in a shallow pan and fry them on medium heat, until they are golden, turning them once. Drain and absorb the excess fat using kitchen paper, and serve with the tahini sauce, some pitta bread and mixed raw vegetables.