Like most anyone with a pulse, a big plate of fries is my ultimate food weakness. Knowing this, I rarely order them when out, preferring instead to steal some off my husband's plate, and truly never make them at home because big pots of boiling oil make my hair stand on end. And then I discovered chickpea fries, which pretty much changed everything. Yes, these still require heating up a oil to a scarily high temperature but because they're made from chickpea flour, which is super high in protein, fiber, and iron, I can convince myself that they're kind of good for me and therefore can and should be eaten with reckless abandon. I suspect you will, too.
If you've ever made polenta before, then you are pretty much already a pro at making chickpea fry batter. Just bring a pot of salted water to a boil, whisk in the chickpea flour and any spices you desire, and then pour the batter onto a baking sheet to allow it firm up as it chills. After about 30 minutes, it can be cut into fry-like shapes and fried to crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside fry perfection.
Being that chickpea flour is used most heavily in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, I decided to stick with those flavor profiles when spicing these, whisking sumac into the batter and topping them with a dusting of aleppo pepper. If you don't have these on hand, don't stress it! Other spice blends such as za'atar, curry powder, ras el hanout, smoked paprika, and dukkah would also be great flavorings for these so just use whatever you have on hand. Since no side of fries is complete without dipping sauce, I served these up alongside bowls of red and green harissa but tzatziki, hummus, and even ketchup would be great alternatives!
- In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Whisk in the chickpea flour and sumac, stirring vigorously for 2-3 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed and there are only very small lumps. It will be the consistency of polenta. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the batter onto the prepared pan in a ½-inch thick layer. It won't take up the whole pan, but almost. Set aside to firm up for 30 minutes.
- Cut the mixture into rectangular 2x½-inch pieces.
- Pour the vegetable oil into a large, deep cast-iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high. Once the oil is hot enough (it should sizzle the second a fry is put in the pan), add about 8 fries to the pan. Cook until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside, about 3-4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining fries. Sprinkle with aleppo pepper and serve immediately.