Chickpea Flour Panisses Frites are Better than Fries
Panisse, like polenta, is easy to make. The difference is chickpea flour instead of cornmeal. However, the culinary debate about whether panisse is a culinary creation of Marseille or Nice continues without resolution. Is the authentic version of panisse found at a snack bar on the beach in l’Estaque, where Cézanne once painted? Or is this savoury side – li panissa frgeidi – originally from the kitchens of Nice and an emblem of Cuisine Nissarde? While we don’t have the answer to the gastronomic debate, we know that panisse is delicious. However, we lean towards Nice in the discussion as in Italian, pan means bread, and panisse could be a diminutive form.
Many traditional Niçoise and Provencal recipes began as nutritious, inexpensive dishes served in poor households, and panisse is no exception. Once eaten by local labourers and their families, panisse is now found in acclaimed restaurants.
The recipe for les panisses frites comes from Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice, a cookbook and a tribute to the essence of Cuisine Nissarde sharing food with family and friends. The recipe below was translated and published with the permission of the Office de Tourisme Métropolitain Nice Côte d’Azur. Available in French only, you can find Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice online at Amazon or the tourist office in Nice, France.
Fried Panisse – Panisses Frites
- 600 g Chickpea Flour ** see note
- 2 litres Cold Water
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Pour the chickpea flour into the cold, salted water in a stock pot, avoiding lumps that form when the flour is thrown into hot water.
- Put the pot on low heat and stir with a whisk without stopping while the batter thickens. Don’t stop whisking as you want a smooth dough.
- Bring the water to a boil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Immediately pour the mixture into slightly oiled saucers. Allow to cool.
- Cut each pastry into 1 to 2 cm wide strips.
- Dust with chickpea flour, then cook them in a heavy frying pan with hot oil. Allow the first side to turn golden brown before turning them halfway through the cooking time.
- Place the panisse on paper towels.
- Add salt and pepper to your taste. Serve immediately.