herbed lime chickpea vol au vent

herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table

There were two articles recently in the Washington Post that echoed some of my thoughts I have about Indian food. One discussed why people find Indian food to be delicious while the other touched on the low popularity of Indian food in the US. Two interesting yet contrasting topics well worth the read if you have a few minutes to spare. 

In my opinion, I think Indian food has reached an interesting stage in the food scene, traditional and well-known dishes remain popular but there still remains plenty of room to grow. And though, it's true that Asian and Mexican cuisines tend to dominate the Western food scene, I don't think there's any cause for alarm, in fact I think it's the perfect opportunity and time to explore the variety in Indian food. There's so much to share and learn from Indian food. Within India, itself you will notice a huge variation in culture, language and diet. However, I also think it is important to break away from tradition and create your own traditions when it comes to food. Here on my blog, I humbly try to make an attempt to mix Indian cuisine into Western culture. It is important for me on a personal level to share food that I enjoy to prepare and in a way that represents the elements that influence me and my thoughts on food, on a daily basis. So here's to the future of Indian food and all the wonderful and tasty possibilities it has to offer!

This is an easy yet flavorful Indian-inspired savory pastry appetizer that can be served at gatherings of any type. Remember that little mint-cilantro chutney I made for the chickpea battered sandwich? Well here's another use for it and yet, again with chickpeas. This time, they flavor whole chickpeas which  get stuffed into little puff pastry nests. The ginger strips and fresh herbed chutney are what gives these chickpeas a flavorful and tasty punch!

The folks at Yahoo Food have me up as their Food Blogger of the Week and it's definitely been an honor and wonderful experience. Here's the link to the interview I did with them.

herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table
herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table
herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Tableherbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Tableherbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these vols au vent;

  • Make the chutney fresh. It will taste better the day it is made. 
  • I remove the seeds from the center of the tomatoes as they contain a lot of liquid trapped in the surrounding gel. 
  • I use store bought puff pastry. These days you can be puff pastry sheets or precut puff pastry shells which eliminate the need to cut the sheets. Go with you can find and what is easiest for you. To cut the smaller pastry circle within the large precut circle of puff pastry, I use the wider end of my large pastry tip. If you own a smaller circular pastry cutter, use that instead. 
  • Always keep the pastry cold when working with it. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to bake the pastry. In general puff pastry bakes and rises well at high temperatures which allow the trapped steam and butter within the dough to expand and create multiple layers. 
  • You will probably end up with way more chickpea filling than you need. I save the extra unused filling for lunch or as a side to add onto my dinner plate. 
  • You can play around with the heat level of the filling by adding more chili or leaving the seeds in. 
herbed lime chickpea vol au vent | A Brown Table

herbed lime chickpea vol au vent

yields: enough filling for 24 vol au vents


1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine

1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and julienned

1/2 cup tomatoes, seeds removed

2 X 15ounces cans chickpea, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

1/2 serrano or 1 thai chili pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup mint-cilantro chutney (recipe here - skip the chickpea batter part of the recipe)

2 puff pastry sheets or precut (store bought)

a little cilantro leaves, fresh to garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the onions until they turn light pink. Add the ginger and cook for another minute with constant stirring. Then toss in the tomatoes, chickpeas, salt, pepper and chili pepper. Stir for one minute, then fold in the mint-cilantro chutney and cover the saucepan with a lid. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The chickpeas should be tender when done. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to evaporate any liquid that might be left behind. Remove from stove and keep warm until ready to use. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

2. To prepare the pastry for the vol au vent. Option 1: Precut vol au vents; Bake the precut shells as instructed by the manufacturer. Option 2: Pastry sheets: Place the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface and cut out 3 inch circles using a biscuit cutter. Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone sheet. Using a sharp paring knife make indentations around the outer edge of the pastry. Then using a 1 inch diameter pastry cutter carefully cut a circle halfway through the center of each of the cut pastry circles. Bake the pastry as per the manufacturer's instructions. (In general for puff pastry, I bake the pastry in a preheated oven at 425F for about 18-20 minutes until the pastry rises completely and turns golden brown). Remove the baked pastry from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before handling.

3. To stuff the pastry, pop out the center from the cooked pastry and remove and discard and excess pastry from the center. Stuff the center with a generous tablespoon of the warm chickpea filling and garnish with a few leaves of cilantro. Serve immediately. 

yeasted chickpea parmesan and herb bread

Chickpea Parmesan Bread |A Brown Table

My favorite part about cooking is the opportunity to experiment in the kitchen, however crazy the idea might sound, it's fun! Things generally never work on the first try when I'm trying out something new, my failed experiments generally involve a lot of scribbled notes on paper stained with food, there'll be asterisks to indicate what I should try to modify the next time round, basically it resembles a college student's chemistry lab notebook. Sometimes, the outcomes even up in trash can, yup it's happened. This recipe was no different but I enjoyed working on it. 

Chickpea Parmesan Bread |A Brown TableChickpea Parmesan Bread |A Brown Table

I've been wanting to try a couple of chickpea flour recipes at home that I could hopefully bake in the oven. I took a bit of help from an Indian chickpea flour steamed savory dish, called dhokla and classic western baking techniques. Dhokla is a spongy bread like dish that uses yogurt for fermentation and sometimes a little bit of baking soda, I skipped the yogurt in favor of buttermilk and yeast. Buttermilk gives a sweeter flavor and the combined action of the yeast and yogurt bacteria helps to create little pockets of air that make the bread spongy. 

Chickpea Parmesan Bread |A Brown TableChickpea Parmesan Bread |A Brown Table

Chickpea flour based breads have a distinct taste and if you like it, then this bread recipe is worth trying out. The crust is golden and soft when warm, the inner texture of the bread has lovely tiny holes that help create the soft texture. Serve it warm with a little salted butter or dice it up and serve it with some olive oil mixed with za'atar. You can store this bread in an airtight container but I recommend reheating it for a few seconds in the microwave and serving it warm.

Chickpea Parmesan Bread |A Brown Table
Chickpea Parmesan Bread |A Brown Table

yeasted chickpea parmesan herb bread

yields : 4-6 servings


2 cups (about 6 1/2 ounces) chickpea flour

1/2 cup parmesan, grated

2 cups whole buttermilk

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder (if you want it slightly hot, replace with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 teaspoon dried herbs (za'atar or oregano or basil or any other dried herb of your choice can be used here)

1 tablespoon melted butter or vegetable oil for greasing the pan

1.  In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients from the chickpea flour to the sea salt. Whisk until completely combined and smooth. 

2. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan with the butter or oil. Pour the batter into the pan and cover loosely with a clean cloth and allow to rest in a warm spot for at 2 hours. 

3. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Remove the cloth and sprinkle the dried herbs over the surface. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown and the center is firm to touch and a skewer when inserted comes out clean from the center. 

4. Allow the baked bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool for another 10 minutes. Cut into squares or rectangles and serve warm with butter or olive oil mixed with a za'atar.