This article was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, April 20, 2006.

Garbanzo pancakes

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

15.5-ounce (439g) can garbanzo beans or the equivalent in reconstituted dry beans
1 or 2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons (60g) white flour or cornmeal (see below)
1 egg
Black pepper
Other spices to your liking (see below)
1 tablespoon olive oil, peanut oil or vegetable oil


1. Drain and rinse the beans and drain them again, unless you're more fond of that slimy canning liquid than I am. Peel the garlic cloves, and measure out the other ingredients. Separate the egg, discarding the white or, if you're extremely thrifty, save it for another purpose.

2. Put the beans and the garlic into a saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for a few moments, until they're warmed through. Drain off all but about 1/4 cup of the water, and buzz the beans to a thick puree.

3. Stir in your choice of white flour or cornmeal. Using flour makes a lighter pancake with the garbanzo flavor evident; cornmeal plays more of a leading role in a heavier, coarse-textured pancake that resembles polenta with a touch of garbanzo flavor. I like it both ways, and wouldn't rule out experimenting with other flours, like rye or buckwheat.

4. Stir in the egg yolk, and add salt, pepper and your choice of spices to your taste, choosing flavors that will complement whatever you're serving with the pancakes. In one white-flour version, I used cumin and Madras curry powder; in a cornmeal pancake I used Coleman's dry mustard and a pinch of cayenne. Let your imagination be your guide, but don't overdo - unless you're making an Indian-style curry, any time you you more than two or three spices and herbs together you're probably going to end up with muddled flavors.

5. Put a large, flat, preferably non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, and when it's hot enough to "bounce" a few drops of water, grease it lightly (and carefully) with a little oil on a paper towel. I generally use olive oil or peanut oil or a neutral vegetable oil depending on the spices I've chosen for the pancake and the flavors of the accompaniments. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter (which should be about the texture of thick polenta) onto the skillet, and coax them into approximate rounds. Cook on one side for two or three minutes, until the bottom is firm, then turn them very carefully, using a thin spatula. (Because the pancakes are mostly bean and only a little flour, they're somewhat fragile until the exterior is well cooked. But if you mess one up in turning it, don't despair - you can generally mash it back into working order.) Flip once or twice until they're crisp and golden, then serve with your choice of garnish or accompaniment.

WINE MATCH: Purely by happenstance, I uncorked - or, in fact, unscrewed - modest South African wines with both of my ventures: With garbanzo-white flour pancakes topped with a warm "pesto" of chopped cooked kale and spinach and tomatoes, I served a red wine, the mostly Pinotage Hidden Valley 2003 Stellenbosch "Hidden Agenda." With garbanzo cornmeal pancakes topped with goat cheese and prosciutto dice, it was a white, the New Zealand-style South African Durbanville Hills 2005 Sauvignon Blanc.