Wednesday, October 18, 2006

k'dami and the real za'atar

roasted chickpeas are a very common snack food in the middle east amongst the many dried nuts and seeds that are consumed. i know it simply as k'dami. it may also be common in india, in some similar form i would imagine.

i do not keep very many "snacky" type foods in my house but had a hankering for something savoury. i decided to make my own [as i often do]. why buy when you can easily make some yourself and control what you put in it? save money and make your own, you won't regret it.

* * * * *

a snack so easy and so deliciously addictive, these are savoury, slightly sour due to the sumac in the za'atar, spicy and a mildly hot. increase or decrease the heat as you like with the spices below. what's also great is that you can control the finalized texture yourself by how long you bake these, as everyone's tastes differ when it comes to both flavours & textures. i like mine very dry and crunchy.

spicy oven-roasted chickpeas {k'dami}

1 can [19 oz] chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp * za'atar
[if you don't have any, you can make your own]
1 - 2 tsp very finely chopped almonds [optional]
1 heaping tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 - 3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp onion powder or more
1/2 tsp garlic powder or more
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 - 1/2 tsp hot paprika or chilli powder

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil


drain and rinse the beans and let them dry a bit — you don't want wet chickpeas.

preheat the oven to 400 F.

in the meantime, mix the spices together in a small bowl.

in a larger bowl, add the drained chickpeas and the olive oil [extra virgin is best] and mix well carefully so as not to break the whole beans. add the spices and mix again. taste and see if it needs adjusting.

transfer the mixture to a lined baking sheet. use a spatula to get all of the spice and oil mixture out of the bowl. i use parchment paper or a silpat mat.

put in oven for 15 - 20 minutes and remove and redistribute. repeat 2 to 3 more times and then lower heat to 325 and cook another 30 to 45 minutes or so, or until the chickpeas are crispy but not burned. remember these are only approximate times and if they burn they will be bitter.

you may even lower the temperature to 250 and perhaps cook a little longer to dry them. in any event, test one or two to see [let it cool first to firm up]. you may need more or less time in the oven. experiment with your oven, as not all are calibrated properly. when finished, they should be almost dried all the way through and not soft and mushy in the centers.

let cool and serve as a snack. i would not suggest eating all of them in one sitting as they may cause umm... alimentary canal irritation. unless, of course, you have a system which is tolerant of all things leguminosae.

notes: you may change the spices to whatever combinations and quantities you fancy. the one i am suggesting here has a middle eastern flavour. you may do it indian style, greek, italian or whatever you like. how about using wasabi powder or shichimi togarashi? [click each word, 2 links]. anything is possible.

za'atar is also a jewish group which performs the oriental music of the jews of middle eastern countries.

did you know that in ancient mesopotamia 24 chickpeas were equal to 1 shekel? trying paying with chickpeas in israel today! ha!

* * * * *
as an aside, jews make a dish called nahit. it is basically very humble salted and peppered chickpeas which have [sometimes] been dried in an oven to form an outer "skin" or other times, seasoned and served as is, without any ado. they are equally as tasty as k'dami however they do not have the same shelf life or texture. this recipe for honeyed nahit looked interesting, as well as one which replaces the chickpeas with indian chana dal. another sweet chickpea and rice dish which looked good is a 1950s one from jennie grossinger, a famous catskills, new york cook.

for a very interesting read on the etymology of the yiddish word for the chickpea — arbes — read this. you may be surprised to learn it's roots are both russian & turkish.

* * * * *

za'atar is a term which describes both a plant and the seed/herb mixture which i have used in the above recipe. this seed & herb mixture can be both green or red, the latter being red because of the sumac in it.

the original biblical za'atar, or hyssop was called eyzov in hebrew [עזוב] and played and important role amongst jews, arabs & christians many centuries ago.

Origanum syriacum is the real za'atar and is actually a protected plant today. people who are caught picking it [in quantity i imagine] are given hefty fines to pay due to the fact it has been overharvested and is scarce. i remember hearing this from both israeli and lebanese friends. za'atar is still an important spice and has long been believed to be good for one's mind and body. for a little synopsis, try reading this article.

a picture of the real eyzob can be seen in a recent post at this wonderful wordpress site about the flowers of israel. another great picture can be seen here.

i have found the variety of hyssop pictured below here in canada at one of our large middle eastern markets catering the lebanese community. it is the standard hyssop plant. while not the real mccoy, it smelled and tasted wonderful when i made za'atar from it.

one of my favourite snacks is pita baked with olive oil & this herb called mana'ish [khoubz bil za'atar]. it is a common breakfast or anytime of the day snack and can be made the fast way with already baked pita or you can make your own bread and spread and bake with za'atar and olive oil. there is also a cheese manaish which is equally as delicious.

now, i'm hungry. ;p


ByTheBay said...

These look delicious - I've never had roasted chickpeas and I keep meaning to make them. This recipe looks particularly tasty, thanks for sharing.

burekaboy — said...

BTB - thanks :P

wow, i'm surprised to hear that you've never had them before. i really like them but in small amounts. the good thing about this kind of recipe is that you can tailor it to suit your tastes.

Anonymous said...

Hi. great article. I whish I would have been there.

I discovered a niche Food & Wine Network where you can submit and search for such events.


burekaboy — said...

hi anonymous - thanks! i'll take a look at the link.