Sunday, September 5, 2021

Spiced Chickpea Flour Gnocchi with Coconut Spinach Sauce

These spiced chickpea flour gnocchi are deliciously savory bites, tender on the inside and golden on the outside, served on a divine coconut spinach sauce so good you will want to lick the plate not to miss a single drop. 

When I first saw the delicious. magazine recipe from which mine is adapted, I questioned calling these little squares gnocchi because they were unlike any gnocchi I’d ever seen before. Gnocchi dough is rolled into a long sausage then cut in bits and boiled, right? If you are French, you might cook it à la poêle, in a pan browned in butter, but it's still little ovals of potato pasta.

But just a couple of weeks later, I was researching Roman recipes for another blogger event and I came across many for gnocchi that reminded me of my crispy polenta. Case in point, Serious Eats' Gnocchi alla Romana. It is indeed very similar in method to this chickpea flour version, aside from the shape. 

So I guess the potato gnocchi I’ve been making all these years is Italian, not Roman, but my crispy polenta is! Who knew?

Anyhoo, name aside, you are going to want to make these guys. We absolutely loved them and the spiced coconut spinach sauce as well. I'm not kidding when I say you'll want to lick the plate. It looks like a lot of ingredients and many steps but they are all super easy. Give this a try! You will not regret it. 

Spiced Chickpea Flour Gnocchi with Spinach Coconut Sauce

Here in the States, bags of spinach generally come measured in ounces and/or pounds. If you live elsewhere and can get a one kilo bag, go ahead and use the whole thing. This recipe is adapted from one in delicious. magazine, the UK edition, from the talented Chef Vivek Singh of The Cinnamon Club in London.

For the gnocchi:
3 cups or 735g Greek yogurt (sub a non-dairy yogurt to make this vegan friendly)
1 3/4 cups or 210g chickpea (gram) flour plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 cups + 4 teaspoons or 375ml water
1 piece (about 1 in or 2.5cm) fresh ginger
4 small hot red chili peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon asafetida (if you can't find this, skip it. I'm addicted to the aroma of asafetida but I can't say I notice much of a flavor difference when it's added to a recipe)
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds aka kalongi 
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Plus canola or other light oil for pan frying

For the coconut spinach sauce:
28 oz or 794g young leaf spinach
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon gram flour
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
4 hot red chili peppers, minced
3/4 cup or 180ml coconut cream (not milk - we want the thick stuff for extra flavor!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

For the tempering:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 whole dried red chili peppers, broken into small pieces
2-3 sprigs fresh curry leaves

Line a 9x9 in or x 23x23cm pan with baking parchment. 

Peel the ginger and cut the stems off of the chili peppers. Chop the ginger roughly. Use a small food processor to mince both finely. Alternatively, you can use a pestle and mortar to grind them into a paste. 

Use a little of the water measure to rinse the processor or mortar to make sure you don’t leave any ginger/pepper behind. 

Mix all the gnocchi ingredients together in a pan and whisk to combine.

Cook gently for 12-15 minutes until thickened and shiny, whisking, then stirring as it thickens, all the while.

Transfer to the prepared pan and spread it out evenly to cool. Cover well with cling film and chill for up to 24 hours. 

When you are ready to complete the dish, put a 1/4 cup or 60ml water in your largest pot that has a lid. Bring it to the boil then add the spinach. Pop the lid on. If you don't have a pot this large, put as much as you can in, then add handfuls as the spinach shrinks and makes room until it's all been added.

Cook for 1-2 minutes or until wilted. Tip it into a bowl with ice water. 

Drain in a colander. Put a bowl under the colander when most of the water has drained and push down on the spinach so even more water drains and collects in the bowl. 

Purée the spinach in a food processor, adding a little of the spinach water, if necessary to get it moving. Set aside. (yield: 2 3/4 cups spinach purée)

Heat the oil for the coconut spinach sauce in a medium sized pot over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, then the garlic and stir until the garlic is golden. Add the chickpea flour and stir until it gives off a roasted aroma about 1-2 minutes. 

Add the spinach puree to the pan and bring to a slow boil, stirring often. Turn down the heat, add the ginger and chili peppers.

Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, add the salt and sugar then sprinkle in the garam masala. Keep warm. 

For the tempering, strip the curry leaves off of the stems then heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the red chili peppers, mustard seeds and curry leaves. 

Once the spices crackle, stir till dry and remove from the heat. 

Cut the cooled gnocchi into 36 squares. Lightly dust the gnocchi with a little more gram flour. I find using a small sieve for this most helpful. 

Drizzle a little oil into a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat then fry the gnocchi in batches, turning them until they are browned on all sides. 

Remove them to a pan in a warm oven, with a wire rack and paper towels to absorb any oil as you finish each batch. Keep warm. 

Divide the coconut spinach sauce between plates then top with the golden gnocchi and sprinkle with the tempered spice mix to serve.


It’s Sunday FunDay and today we are sharing recipes made with chickpea flour, also known as gram flour or besan. It’s commonly used in many Asian cuisines, predominantly in the subcontinent, for savory dishes and baking. According to Wikipedia, it contains a high proportion of carbohydrates as well as higher fiber and protein relative to other flours. It is naturally gluten free, making it a healthy choice for many. Check out all the recipe links below! Many thanks to our host, Renu of Cook with Renu for hosting today and for this wonderful theme.

We are a group of food bloggers who believe that Sunday should be a family fun day, so every Sunday we share recipes that will help you to enjoy your day. If you're a blogger interested in joining us, just visit our Facebook group and request to join.

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