Panisse recipe - David Lebovitz (2024)


Panisse recipe - David Lebovitz (1)

Way back in 2008, probably before some of you were born, I posted a recipe for Panisses, chickpea flour fritters. They weren’t so well known outside of the south of France, and even in Paris, people don’t really know what they are. So it was fun introducing these Mediterranean specialties to a wider audience, even if some readers were scratching their heads as to how to get the main ingredient; chickpea flour.

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Nowadays, with gluten-free baking more popular, chickpea flour is easy to get and a recent trip to Marseille, where they’re sold at seaside stands (like the one above), prompted me to make them at home again, and update the recipe with additional tips I picked up.

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Making the batter for panisses is similar to making polenta, and just as easy. I don’t know if there is any “official” shape they’re supposed to be. In the south of France, they sometimes fashion the panisse mixture into thick logs with molds, then slice them into rounds (or half-rounds) for frying. In Jacques Médecin’s iconic book, Cuisine Niçoise, he calls for the cook to oil a dozen small saucers and use those to mold the panisse mixture, which is later cut into baton-like shapes, which are more irregular (but kinda fun) due to the circular saucers.

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My sous-tasse (saucer) game isn’t as strong as his – I only have three, and I don’t think the dark blue one counts – so I use a 9-inch (23cm) square cake pan, which does the job nicely. If you do go to Nice or Marseille, you can still sometimes find them sold in disks with the signature circular marks of the indentations of saucers in shops, ready to fry. To be authentic, they should only be made of chickpea flour (like their cousin, socca), although I horrified a Niçoise friend when I told her one packet I saw at an épicerie (food shop) near her town listed wheat flour as an ingredient.

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Deep-frying is generally a recipe deal-breaker for me. Any recipe that says, “Heat 4 quarts of oil in a pot…”, I turn the page or click away as fast as I can. So I prepare a nice bain of olive oil, a bath if you will, that’s deep enough to give them a nice golden exterior and keep them from sticking, and use that rather than a bottle of olive oil. It works perfectly.

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As mentioned, when I first wrote this post, chickpea flour was difficult to find and was most easily obtained by a trip to a shop that sold ingredients for Indian or Middle Eastern cooking (where it’s called gram or besan.) But some of it is quite coarse and sometimes it’s made from roasted chickpeas, neither of which you want here.

With a rise and interest in gluten-free baking, chickpea flour (also called garbanzo flour) is easy to find at natural food stores and I get mine in Paris at Biocoop or Naturalia, where it’s labeled farine de pois chiche and you can find it in Italian food shops labeled farina di ceci too.You want to use unroasted chickpea flour that’s finely milled, as shown below. You can also get it via mail order from Bob’s Red Mill and Amazon, and for DIYers, there are recipes for making it yourself.

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Because panisses come from the south of France, the natural accompaniment is rosé, although for those not imbibing, ice-cold lemonade works well too. Americans who come to Paris wonder where all the ice in France is, and I’m here to tell you that it’s all down in the south, where people plunk a cube or two in their rosé, but also sometimes in their white and red wine, too. Far from being très américain, café waiters often automatically bring customers a little bucket of ice with your drink, and if they don’t, they’ll do it on request. I’m writing a bit more about that in an upcoming newsletter, but my general rule of thumb is that if the wine is €10/$10 or less, you can put ice in it : ) As for panisses, I advise you to stick to the script and keep them as simple as possible, and serve them with flaky sea salt and pepper, which is the best way possible.

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I fried my panisses in olive oil, as is traditional, in my cast iron skillet and it's a little hard to tell you exactly how much to use but you want enough so that the panisses won't stick. This makes about 36 panisses. A commenter a while back noted they grilled them, which is likely possible. We can't grill in Paris as it's not authorized (I think it's because they are worried about fires), but if you want to give it a go, you can likely brush them with olive oil and cook them that way. If you do, let us know how they come out in the comments.

Servings 8 servings

  • 2 1/4 cups (250g) chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 quart (a scant liter) water
  • olive oil, for frying
  • coarse salt and freshly-cracked pepper, for serving
  • Lightly oil a 9-inch (23 cm) square cake pan, or similar sized vessel.

  • Pour the chickpea flour in a medium saucepan along with the salt and olive oil. Add half of the water and stir with a sturdy whisk until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the rest of the water.

  • Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently with the whisk until it just begins to boil and thicken. Reduce the heat to low-to-medium, and continue to cook, stirring with the whisk (or a wooden spoon or spatula) until the mixture thickens and holds its shape, and pulls away from the side of the pan, about 10 minutes. It should resemble stiff, sticky mashed potatoes.

  • Immediately scrape the mixture into the oiled pan, smooth the top, and let cool. It may be difficult to get the top smooth, so do it as quickly as you can. You can use a offset spatula dipped in water to help smooth the top, and once you've smoothed it as best as you can, fold a kitchen towel on the counter and drop the pan a few times on the towel to help smooth it out even further. Let cool completely at room temperature.

  • To fry the panisses, unmold the solidified mixture on a cutting board and slice into three rectangles. Then use a knife to cut 3/4-inch (2cm) batons.

  • In a heavy-duty skillet, heat 1/3 to 1/2 inch (1,5 cm) of olive oil. Don't be too parsimonious with the olive oil. When shimmering hot, fry the panisses in batches, not crowding them in the pan. Once the bottom is nicely browned and crisp on the bottom, turn with tongs, frying the panisses, turning them once each side is browned, until they're deep golden brown on each side. They'll take at least 5 minutes to fry them and the first batch will cook slower than subsequent batches.

  • Remove the panisses from the pan and drain on paper towels or on a brown paper bag, sprinkling them very generously with salt and pepper. Don’t be stingy with either. Continue frying the rest of the panisses, heating more oil in the pan as needed.



Serve the panisses warm.

While it's traditional to serve panisses just with salt and pepper, one place I went to in Marseille served panisses with harissa mayonnaise. So if you want to liven things up, mix some harrisa with mayonnaise, to taste, and use that as a dip.


Panisse recipe - David Lebovitz (2024)


What does panisse mean in French? ›

Chickpea Fries, also known as panisses, are a staple food from the south of France and parts of Italy.

What's the difference between panisse and Socca? ›

It's especially closely related to socca, the thin chickpea pancake that is considered the traditional street food of Nice; the base recipes for socca and panisse are almost identical, but socca is baked in a woodfire oven on a hot, flat, circular skillet and emerges from the oven millimeters thick.

Where does chickpea panisse come from? ›

Its origins

Panisse came to us thanks to the Italians from Piedmont and Liguria who came to work in the Estaque factories. Made from chickpea flour, it can be found in the form of a sausage to be cut up in food shops, but in Estaque it is sold in the form of 2 cm thick slices, already cut up and fried.

What is panisse Marseille? ›

Panisse of Marseille (Chickpea Pancake or Fritters)

Discover the Panisse of Marseille recipe is a savory chickpea pancake from Marseille. Usually served in round disk form but you can really cut them anyway you like. It's best served as an aperitif.

What does Bon Jovi mean in French? ›

The word bon in French means “good”, but it is not related to the Latin word bonus, which is the root of Bongiovi. The word jovi in French does not exist, but it is similar to the word joli, which means “pretty” or “nice”.

Why is it called Chez Panisse? ›

Filled with the notion that they could do anything, Waters and a group of friends raised money, found a house on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley and opened a little restaurant called Chez Panisse in 1971. They named it after a character in the Marcel Pagnol's film trilogy, “Marius,” “Fanny” and “Cesar.” Waters was 27.

Is chickpea flour better than gram flour? ›

All types have similar tastes and textures. They can be used interchangeably in most recipes, though besan/gram flour is more finely ground.

Is chickpea flour just chickpeas? ›

What is Chickpea Flour? Chickpea flour is known as garam flour or garbanzo bean flour and it is made by grinding dried chickpeas.

Is garbanzo flour and chickpea flour the same thing? ›

Gram flour, also called besan, garbanzo flour, or chickpea flour, is made from ground chickpeas, which are naturally gluten-free. Chickpeas also have many names, including garbanzo beans, garbanzo, gram, Bengal gram, Egyptian pea, cici beans, chi chi beans and cece beans.

Which country has the best chickpeas? ›

Volume of chickpeas produced worldwide 2022, by country

Over the last several years, India has been the top producer of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, worldwide. In 2022, the production volume of chickpeas in India amounted to over 13.5 million metric tons.

What is the difference between chole and chickpeas? ›

What is the difference between Chana and Chole? Generally speaking, both the terms Chana and chole mean chickpeas. Chana is a Hindi word and Chole is a Punjabi word & both mean the same. But chana masala is any Indian chickpea curry and chole masala is a dish made in Punjabi style with specific spices.

What are chickpeas called in Italy? ›

Chickpeas called “ceci” in Italian or “Garbanzo Beans” in Spanish, are an excellent nutritional choice.

What is Marseille most famous dish? ›

Marseille's most famous and classic dish is bouillabaisse, which was once known as the poor man's soup. It's hardly that now, thanks to its popularity and higher price, which tourists gladly pay. This dish is a hearty meal and is loved by true seafood enthusiasts.

Why is Marseille famous for food? ›

Aside from the Italian influence Marseilles position as Europe's doorway to Maghreb and the middle east has resulted in large immigrations from the regions and an undeniable influence on Marseille's cuisine, where you often find spices like saffron and heavy use of olive oil which are both customarily used across the ...

What is the difference between Chez Panisse Cafe and Resturant? ›

Chez Panisse and the Cafe at Chez Panisse Offer Different Dining Experiences. The main restaurant at Chez Panisse is downstairs and offers prix fixe menus, with three to five courses depending on the day. The menu changes daily and according to the season. The Cafe is open for both lunch and dinner.

What does tout Ceci mean? ›

all of that. all of this all these all that.

What is the French word for flour? ›

[ˈflaʊəʳ ] noun. farine f. Collins French-English Dictionary © by HarperCollins Publishers.

What does Ceci Bon mean? ›

C'est si bon ! : It's so good!


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