Karane: Savory Chickpea Flan
Sometimes I don’t understand all the recent craze about street food. I think it’s overly romanticized, unduly glorified. This is not to say it isn’t good. No, sir! Some of it is quite delicious for sure but I still believe the best, most bona fide food in any country is found in its homes, followed by good restaurants, if we’re lucky enough to identify them—I don’t even want to get started on the restos…sigh!
Often when we travel, street food is our first encounter with the food culture of the place visited so it is what we usually associate with its authentic food for lack of better, deeper experiences.
Now, between you and me, I must confess that despite all the blah blah above I love street food in all its undeserved, well deserved glory.
My favorite and most memorable street food is karane. It’s popular in Oujda and surrounding area in eastern Morocco as well as in neighboring Algeria. As a child, whenever I went with my mother to the souk, we stopped by the blue and white cart where two Oujdi specialties were always au rendez-vous: karane, a savory chickpea custard, served warm, sprinkled with cumin and chili powder on the best baguette one can get outside of Paris, and barida, a cold, artificially flavored and colored, painfully sweet yellow drink that I loved as a kid. I don’t miss barida but my longing for karane is intense and has led me to recreate the whole experience at home.
If you like mashed potatoes—and who doesn’t!—You’ll like karane. Kids and vegetarians, especially, go gaga over it. It’s an extremely satisfying dish.
Chickpea Flan/Karane Recipe
4 to 6 servings
1 cup chickpea flour
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ¾ cups water
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons hot sauce—I used Sriracha
Ground cumin and chili powder, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, combine the chickpea flour, salt and garlic powder. Add the rest of the ingredients, whisking energetically until you obtain a very smooth, soupy batter.
Transfer the batter to an 8×8-inch pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until the flan is set. It is OK if the surface feels a bit soft and mushy; that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Sprinkle generously with ground cumin and chili powder. Serve immediately.