Even though I’m not a breakfast eater and I don’t eat eggs, I love omelets. Tofu omelets, that is. I can eat them morning, noon, or night; plain or stuffed with as many veggies as they can hold. My Vegan Omelette for One and all my “Eggless Eggs” recipes are, to me, the definition of comfort food: flavorful, filling, and familiar. But they all depend on tofu, and I know some of you reading this can’t or don’t eat soy. So what do you do if you crave an omelet and can’t have tofu?
Enter the chickpea. Second only to the soybean in its culinary flexibility, the chickpea is definitely The Little Legume That Could. Take this salad. It could be tuna salad but it’s actually chickpeas. Meatballs? Could be, but actually they get their protein from chickpeas. And how about these cheesy crackers? It’s chickpea flour that gives them their nutty flavor and crunch.
Indian, Pakistani, and Bengali cooks have been using unroasted chickpea flour–also known as besan or gram flour–to make omelet-like pancakes for centuries. (Technically, gram flour is made from a relative of the chickpea, chana or chholar dal, which I often use instead of yellow split peas.) If you have an Indian grocery store nearby, you can buy a nice, big bag of gram flour for a very low price. I prefer the superfine grind because I’ve actually had to strain large pieces out of bags of coarser flour. And when you’re cooking something for such a short time, as in this omelet, you don’t want to run the risk of uncooked lumps.
So about these omelets. In truth, they are more like flatbreads than omelets, though they hit the spot when I’m craving comfort food. And while they won’t fool anyone who is expecting eggs, they have a nutty and almost cheesy flavor all their own. Plus, they’re even easier to make than tofu omelets; because you mix the ingredients by hand, there’s no blender to clean afterward.
Since I wanted to fill them with roasted asparagus, I added herbs that I thought would complement the filling–basil and chives–plus nutritional yeast for cheesiness and black salt for the slightly sulfurous flavor of eggs. But you can use any seasonings and fillings that you like. The traditional Indian chickpea pancakes called pudla or chilla are fragrant with cumin, ginger, chilies, and cilantro and are incredible with spinach and kale fillings. Check out the seasonings in the recipes linked at the end of the post.
- 8 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup superfine chickpea flour (besan or gram flour)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon ground flax or chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon salt–or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)–optional, but gives an “eggy” flavor
- generous grinding of black pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, snipped (or 1 tablespoon minced onion)
- 1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small tomato, chopped, or handful of halved grape tomatoes, optional
- Cook the asparagus until it is tender in any way you like. (I roasted it in a 425F oven for about 10 minutes.) Sprinkle with salt to taste, if you like, and set aside.
- While the asparagus is cooking, mix the chickpea flour with all dry ingredients (nutritional yeast through black pepper) in a medium mixing bowl. Add the water, chives, and bell pepper. Allow to stand and thicken while the asparagus cooks or about 10 minutes.
- Check the batter and add water by the tablespoon if it is not a pourable consistency. It should be like thick pancake batter.
- Preheat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over high heat. Once it’s hot, reduce the heat to medium and pour half of the batter (about 2/3 cup) into the center of the skillet. Smooth it with the back of a spoon until it’s a circle about 6 inches in diameter. If you’re using tomatoes, sprinkle half of them on top. Cover tightly and cook for 4 minutes or until the top begins to look bread-like rather than liquidy.
- Add half the asparagus to one side of the omelet and fold the other half over it. Cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Repeat with remaining ingredients for one more omelet. Serve warm.
7 Incredible Chickpea Flour Omelets:
- Tastespace’s Savoury Indian Chickpea Pancakes (Besan Chilla)
- Holy Cow!’s Eggless Vegetable Omelet (Besan Chilla)
- Julia’s (Vegan) Kitchen’s Chickpea Flour Omelette with Black Salt
- Sketch-Free Eating’s Chickpea Omelette
- Vegan Richa’s Chickpea flour Omelette with spinach, onion, tomato, bell peppers
- Triumph Wellness’s Chickpea Flour Omelette
- Cake Maker to the Stars’ Pudla of the Moment
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