legumes

Trending Now: Aquafaba (Liquid From Cooked Chickpeas)

My first attempt at making a chickpea curry was a disaster. At the end of the evening, my aunt gently reminded me to pre-soak the beans before cooking them. Ever since that rock-hard-chickpea incident, I’ve resorted to using canned cooked chickpeas, and generating a lot of discarded liquid in the process. Until now. Aquafaba, the residual liquor from cooking chickpeas, works perfectly as an egg substitute – a boon to those with an egg allergy or a vegan with a sweet tooth.

Aquafaba, from the Latin aqua (water) and faba (bean), is a more attractive name to give the liquid from a legume. This viscous amber-colored liquid is rich in starch and protein plant material that is drawn out from the legume during cooking. Aquafaba whisks into a binding agent for use in cakes or froths up as foam in drinks. Its neutral flavor doesn’t compete with other ingredients when substituted for eggs in mayonnaise or meringue. Goose Wohlt, an American software engineer, is widely recognized as the person responsible for both the name and making the first stable vegan meringue in 2015.

Aquafaba can be made from canned chickpeas. However, using dried chickpeas eliminates the added salt and preservatives found in the canned version.

Aquafaba

Dried chickpeas – 2 cups

Salt – 1 tsp

  • Wash the dried chickpeas with several changes of fresh water.
  • Drain in a colander.
  • In a fresh bowl, add the chickpeas, 6 cups of water, and salt. Leave it to soak overnight or for about 13-15 hours.
  • Pour the contents of the bowl into a cooking pan.
  • Boil the chickpeas for 1¼ – 1½ hours. Check the chickpeas halfway into cooking time for the frothy scum that rises to the top. Using a spoon and in one continuous motion, scoop out as much of the froth as possible.
  • Chickpeas are ready when they have no crunch but are firm to the touch.
  • Strain the chickpeas, reserving both the chickpeas and golden-colored liquid or aquafaba.

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One of my new favorite drinks is the Peruvian Pisco Sour – but the cocktail was hard to make for a large holiday party. It would have been a challenge to separate so many eggs and keep the egg whites at an optimal temperature. Substituting aquafaba for egg whites addresses these concerns, and is suitable to serve both vegans and worriers (regarding raw eggs) alike. Cheers!

Pisco Sour

Pisco – 3 oz

Aquafaba – 2 tbsp

Simple syrup – 2 ½ -3 tbsp (depending on taste)

Lime juice – 4 tbsp

Crushed ice – ¾ – 1 tbsp

Angostura Bitters – 2-3 drops (optional)

  • Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
  • Add the crushed ice. Shake vigorously.
  • Pour in thirds (to create as much foam as possible) into a short glass. Serve immediately.

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Note: Use the cooked chickpeas to make a simple Italian appetizer with garlic and chili powder, chickpea curry, or process into a smooth hummus.

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Paleo Diet: From Stone Age to Modern Age

I have never followed a diet successfully, mainly because I enjoy food too much to give it up. I’ve noticed that every diet has the naysayers who point out the flaws of what they see as a passing fad. Yet when a friend explained about Paleo diet, I was intrigued by the notion of going back in time to find healthy options.

A Paleo diet, an abbreviation for Paleolithic diet, is one that closely follows what our Paleolithic/Stone Age/caveman ancestors ate. The present day version of hunting or foraging translates to eating free-range animals and sustainable seafood, and enjoying a rotation of seasonal vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

When A. said that she was substituting rice with cauliflower in a recipe for fried rice, I realized that this represented a perfect Paleo concept. I recognized that it would be my biggest challenge since I love rice. A Paleo diet is similar to the low-carbohydrate/high protein diet, but the types of carbohydrates allowed in each are different; In a Paleo diet, carbohydrates from grains, cereals, and legumes are excluded and come primarily from vegetables and fruits. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle that predates our agricultural past also means that dairy is excluded from the diet. While the Paleo diet is good for those with wheat and dairy allergies, the diet is tough for vegetarians to follow. Legumes, a major source of proteins in a vegetarian diet, are not allowed. However, no one can complain about the health benefits of excluding refined sugars and oils, processed foods, and salts.

I can do without refined and processed products, but I wondered how the bland cauliflower taste would stand in for both texture and crunch as a replacement for rice. I substituted cauliflower in an abridged version of my mother’s recipe for aromatic rice pilaf.

Cauliflower Pilaf

Cauliflower – 1 medium, separated into florets (use about 10)

Mixed vegetables (peas, beans, cabbage, carrots) – 1½ cup

Coconut oil – 3 tbsp

Shallot – 1, minced

Garlic – 3 cloves, minced

Ginger – 1-inch, minced

Serrano pepper – 1, minced

Green Cardamom – 3

Whole Cloves – 5

  • Put the cauliflower florets in a food processor. Pulse three times, or until the florets are the size of rice grains.
  • Heat the oil in a wok or sauté pan.
  • Add the minced shallots. Stir until they turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, Serrano and stir for about a minute.
  • Add the cloves and cardamom.
  • Add the cauliflower, mixed vegetables, and 3 tbsp water (or stock).
  • Lower the heat, cover and cook for about five to eight minutes.
  • Remove the whole spices before serving.

 

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I didn’t expect the substitution (cauliflower instead of rice) to work, but its crunch and appearance in the dish was deceptively close. I won’t be giving up rice anytime soon, but every time you encounter the familiar in unexpected new ways, you might just surprise yourself!