بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
It's been one of those days. You moms out there know what I mean. It was one of those days when you hit the snooze button few too many times, woke up late, no time to even get yourself ready . You rush to prepare the coffee, the cocoa, kids and spouse dressed, fed and out the door. Only to have a mile high pile of laundry to tackle, dishes to scrub, school papers to grade, that huuuuuuuuuuuuge spill your toddle just made, whilst doing homeschool lessons with your four-year-old. Hours seem like minutes, passing by without warning until you glance at the clock realizing it's aaaaaaaalmost lunch time. What to do? What to prepare? Mentally take inventory of what's in your fridge. Hmmm no leftovers ... you have an almost empty jar of mayo, 1 egg, few tomatoes and the clock is ticking. What to prepare with few pantry ingredients that requires very fuss and prep work? I'll tell you about one particular Algerian lunch time dish that's not only easy to whip but a good & filling non-meat protein packed dish for at home, at school, at work or on-the-go. ... It's called Garantita. You may be asking:
What is Garantita?
Garantita also written calentita, galentita, karantika, karan, kalentika, grantéta, karantita, garantita, garentéta, gaurantita, kalentica, karentita, or even in Arabic كرنتيكا is an Algerian dish made from chickpea flour. Some call it a tart. Some call it a flan. Some call it a sandwich spread. Whatever you decide to call it, it's just YUM!
Garantita is consumed hot and frequently sold by street vendors (and ultra small street cafés) in major cities of Algeria spread on baguettes as a sandwich. The Garantita smeared inside the bread - usually topped off with harissa, mayo and onions. Optionally, some places offer french fries, cream cheese, tomatoes, olives and even shredded roasted chicken. By vocation, it's a simple and cheap dish that appeals to the wealthy and poor alike. Simply decorated with only harissa and cumin, the "Garantita simple" offers the Algerian customer an inexpensive perfect little pleasure for around a mere 10 dinars (about 9cents € ) for hand held sandwich. It serves as quick bite for people at lunchtime, but also a tie-over to dinner snack It also serves as a "budget rescue" meal for poor families in Algeria.
And behind every popular dish is a story, often of the most unusual and interesting. It is said that a Spanish cook in the 1500s, besieged in the fort of Santa Cruz came up with the dish. Low in morale and supplies he could not console the bellies of the soldiers in his platoon. So he ingeniusly cooked up some chickpeas he had soaked in water, then spread it over simple peasant bread. He called it Calentito torta, meaning hot in Spanish, referring to the nurishment the protein packed chickpea offered the troops. The Calentito spread and won eternal glory for this resourceful cook in Algerian culinary tradition. A few centuries later, still in Oran, the Spanish no longer in command in Algeria, the memory of this legend still lives on. And the legacy of Calentito has entered into the popular food culture in Algeria.
And like most Mediterranean dishes, the Garantita has travelled all over the Mediterranean making happy friends. In Italy there's chickpea flatbread called farinata which means ‘made of flour’, in the Genoese dialect it's called fainâ, or in Tuscany it's “cecina” meaning 'made of chickpeas'. In Provençe, a similar flatbread “socca” but finally in Gibraltar you find the Calentita the kissing cousin of the Garantita where it has reached 'national food' status.
The base for garantita is universally the same, but with slight differences region to region. In Oran, the Garantita consists of flour, chick peas, water, olive oil, salt and cumin and sometimes cheese. In Algiers, the recipe is enriched with milk, butter and eggs. Today, I present my own version that is suited to my family's taste. Garantita is for me, a simple protein packed vegetarian dish that I can easily make with less with 5 minutes prep work. It's really a "no recipe" dish that requires ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Whisk or even easier yet, whiz all the ingredients in a food processor, in a blender or with an immersion blender. Pour into a greased Pyrex baking dish ... Or if you use a silicone baking dish so you're clean is a breeze. Bake the mxiture in a hot oven until the sides are nicely crispy and golden brown, while the center is looks not yet set and jiggly. The finished garantita has a thick chickpea tart layer thats topped with a thin custardy layer. Slice into wedges and sandwich into a sliced baguette or serve piping hot with crudité in the side to snack. Personally, I like some harissa, sliced onion and tomates while my kids' taste steer move towards less spicy accompaniments. To me, it's like eating hot hummus on bread J
๑۞๑ Just to note, chickpea flour here in Algeria is called Farina Garantita or also by its French name Farine de pois chiche. You may find elsewhere in the world, it may also be called Besan flour, Gram flour, Chana flour or even Garbanzo Bean flour. It is incredibly high in protein. Excellent for children, vegans, vegetarians and anyone trying to find inexpensive protein sources. It's also naturally gluten free and low in calories.
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