Today I’ve trawled through a total of FIVE different recipes to bring you one of the most awesomely easy snacks you can make this festive season. Simple chickpeas rolled in cumin seeds, cumin powder, garlic and oil to create a delicate little nibble that’s punching a big flavour.
Crunchy Little Creations.
A few months ago I discovered the delights of roasted chickpeas, learning how the process of heating them in the oven adds a delightful crunch to these popular little pulses. Back then it was summertime and they were adorning the top of a mixed leaf salad, creating a fantastic layer of texture over some roasted root vegetables, mixed leaves and a creamy kefir dressing. They were a delight.
With the festive season bearing down upon us, bringing with it a necessity for readily available finger food, I focussed my attention on turning a tin of chickpeas into an irresistible little snack. How could I take the humble chickpea and turn it into a mouthwatering nibble? I sat down last Sunday to create some recipes, determined to make sweet flavours work in perfect harmony with the tins of chickpeas in my cupboard. The rest of the day swiftly disappeared as I mixed and coated chickpeas with various ingredients like maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, brown sugar, flour, oils and cumin with various levels of success. Sugar coated, rolled in batter, mixed with spices, I tried it all.
On the Sugar Train to Nowhere.
I was determined to make maple syrup stick to chickpeas and taste good after 40 minutes in the oven. The results were tasty, but lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. The best sweet version was sugar and cinnamon coated chickpeas which created a batch of super-crunchy chickpeas with serious bite and a sweet kick to rival the best, but frankly, lacked a special something and had a propensity to burn in the oven.
Cumin, the Water’s Fine!
Sorry, awful pun.
It makes a lot of sense in retrospect, that cumin was the key. I had been trying to crowbar chickpeas, a traditionally savoury ingredient into a sweet mould. I had piled myself onto the one-track-mind-train of wanting a sweet treat and God dammit, I was going to do that. When I finally swapped over to a savoury idea, my final effort was an utter revelation. It seems so obvious now, but at the time I was clouded by the fog of sugar coated obsession. It’s an easy trap to fall into.
After three solely sweet recipes tests, I mixed some cumin seeds in with the next batch of honeyed sweetness, harking to the idea of sugar coated fennel seeds which are a popular Indian breath freshener after meals. This half and half approach didn’t quite hit the spot. I needed to keep it simple.
Roasted Chickpea Revelations.
I took the last batch of chickpeas before I’d need to run to the shop for more supplies, mixed them with a healthy glug of olive oil, a large pinch of cumin seeds, a sprinkling of cumin powder and a dose of salt larger than any nutritionalist would recommend. The result was divine. It was immediately obvious that this was where my dear little chickpeas’ destiny lay. The other ideas had been folly, mere playthings for my Sunday in the kitchen.
Roasted cumin chickpeas are where the snacks are at this Christmas and thank god I found it in the end. Enjoy.
Roasted Cumin Chickpeas
By Gavin Wren
Uses a baking tray and greaseproof paper
400g tin chickpeas, drained
1.5 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, crushed
A large pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Take the drained chickpeas and dry them on a clean tea towel or some pieces of kitchen roll.
Place them in a bowl with the remainder of the ingredients, mix it all together, then pour onto a greaseproof paper lined baking tray.
Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, remove and leave to cool before gorging.