Panisses

Chickpea “French Fries”

This is one of Nice’s oldest recipes. Each morning, pasta and ravioli shops sell panisses freshly made and displayed on dozens of unmatched saucers. Every family saves a precious collection of chipped saucers for the panisse preparation. These chickpea sticks are the children’s favorite lunch, favorite snack, and, when sprinkled with sugar, favorite dessert. Fried panisses seasoned with freshly ground pepper are delicious with broiled chicken, leg of lamb, or plain hamburgers.

Ingredients

  • cups chickpea flour
  • 3 cups cold water
  • salt
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • peanut oil for frying

Method

Oil 6 to 8 saucers or 2 dinner plates. Put the chickpea flour in a large bowl and stir in the cold water, beat with an eggbeater or wire whisk for 1 or 2 minutes, or until you have a smooth paste. Stir in the salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Pour into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over a medium flame, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. After 5 to 10 minutes, the mixture will thicken, then become lumpy, and finally form a mass. Remove from the flame and beat until the dough is very smooth. Spoon into the oiled saucers or plates and allow to cool. (You need not spoon out equal amounts.)

When the panisse dough is cool, cut it into little sticks (½ inch wide and about 2 inches long) as you would potatoes for French fries.

In a heavy pot, heat 1 inch of peanut oil, and when it is very hot fry the little sticks in the same manner as you would French fries, not cooking too many at one time. When they are crisp and golden, turn them very carefully with a spatula. (They will be done in about 4 minutes.) Remove and drain on paper towels. Put them on trays in a slow oven (250°) while you fry the remaining panisses.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, if you like, a little grated Parmesan cheese and serve.