Banana Chickpea Pancakes

Chickpea Pancakes

A few years ago, chickpea or gram flour was all the rave in the vegan community and rightfully so!  A gluten-free, protein-packed, affordable, versatile flour is a game-changer.  A flood of recipes unrolled for pancakes, omelets, desserts, and breads galore, all starring the famed chickpea flour.  But, I had one hang up–that chickpea flour taste.  No matter how good it all smells and looks, there’s a taste that’s hard to mask.  It’s not offensive, but it is unique and instead of trying to flavor it away, I’m learning to embrace it and use syrup and sauces when needed.

This is my most tolerable pancake recipe.  It’s nutritious enough to make for a weekday breakfast but tasty enough to be enjoyed with little to no syrup.

Ingredients

1 cup of chickpea (or gram) flour

2 small, ripe bananas

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. vanilla powder

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 cup of non-dairy milk

virgin coconut oil to grease pan

Directions

Blend all ingredients except chickpea flour and coconut oil in a blender.

Add blended mixture to chickpea flour.

Cook on lightly greased skillet or frying pan.

Top with your favorite vegan butter, date or maple syrup, or fruit spread. Best eaten while hot!

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Turkey Adventures: Day Trip to Eskişehir

Turkey's Happiest City

Now that spring has sprung, we’re getting out and exploring again. For a quick and easy day trip from Ankara, Eskişehir had all the right ingredients: accessible by train, pedestrian-friendly, learning opportunities for children, and vegan food. We all but flew to this colorful university town and were eager to explore.

Cafe de Kedi in Eskişehir

We traveled with another family from Ankara by high-speed train for the short, one and a half hour journey. Our first stop was Café de Kedi, a vegan and vegetarian spot not too far from the train station. True to its name, it seemed more inviting to cats than people, but their vegan Turkish breakfast begged our patronage. Instead of the typical offerings of cheese, eggs, and meat, alongside fresh bread, jams, tahini, olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers; our feast included lentil salad, tofu cheese, sautéed potatoes, oat cereal with soy milk, lentil soup, tahini stuffed pastries, pickled green tomatoes, cut apples, and a variety of sauces and jams. The combination of our smorgasbord seemed dissonant but was beautiful in its confusing variety. To have so many options for breakfast instead of just bread, olives, and jam was a great treat for us and at only about 4 USD a serving, we couldn’t miss it.

Sazova Park in Eskişehir

After walking along the broad walkways and painted bridges, we took a taxi to Sazova Park to visit the Science Arts and Cultural Park. Bilim Deney Merkezi is a modest museum that is engaging and fun for everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Hydraulics, mechanics, acoustics, and physics were all presented as interesting and fascinating activities. Lil’ Z and I attended a science show displayed on the dome-shaped ceiling of their science center. We didn’t understand the dubbed over Turkish narration but enjoyed watching scenes take us from the ocean floor bottom to outer space.

Unique rock in Eskişehir

With much left to be explored, we decided to move on to Odunpazarı, the Old City, where glass and craft artisans showcase and sell their wares. We noticed a lot of white clay products and later learned that it’s called meerschaum and is unique to this particular region of Turkey.

Veg Food in Eskişehir

For our next meal, we stopped at Café Rasta. We were hopeful that the eatery would have vegan and gluten-free options for our entourage already on the menu but instead, they prepared a custom-made meal for us. It was tasty but surprising that the red, green, and gold branded café didn’t serve more Rasta-friendly fare.

Custom-made vegan food at Cafe Rasta in Eskişehir

As the day drew to a close, we tried to slip over to the Çağdaş Cam Sanatları Müzesi to see glass-blowing in progress but it was after 4pm and the demonstrations were done for the day. Instead, we retreated for some tea and fries while waiting for our returning train to Ankara. After more than an hour delay, we finally got on board and all agreed that the day was enjoyably well-spent. Both of our families traveled well together and we hope to plan another short trip soon.

Odunpazarı Manhole

A Refreshing Road Trip from Nizwa to Al Ain: Part II

Day 2

Little Miss Sunshine rose early, as usual.  We opened our balcony curtains and watched the glowing sun warm the quiet neighborhood around us.  Cars and pedestrians slowly filled the vacant streets.  After a light breakfast of tea and cereal prepared in our poorly stocked kitchen, we set out to explore but found all stores closed on this Friday morning.  Unable to do our scheduled shopping trip, we turned our eyes to a natural attraction, Jebel Hafeet.

Standing  tall at 1300 meters above sea level, it is the only mountain range in the entire emirate of Abu Dhabi.  The snaking road winds up the mountain with parks, rest stops, and a popular hotel on the way to the top.  At the peak you can see the entirety of Al Ain—the developed city that it is—and the Empty Quarter, an unforgiving expanse of desert, not too far off.

At the bottom of Jebel Hafeet lies Green Mubazzarah, a large park filled with rolling green hills, hot springs, pools, playgrounds, a mini-train, and mosque.  Our dear friends who spent the Eid holiday with us in Oman met us at the park where the children snacked and played, while congregants gathered and prayed in the Green Mubazzarah Mosque.

After the prayer service, grills were fired, lawn chairs unfolded, and vendors came out.   Apparently, we were in the prime hangout spot for a sunny Friday afternoon.  With plans for a potluck later that evening, we headed to the mall to pick up an entrée for the evening’s rendezvous.

What started out as a quiet gathering of a handful of families became a house bustling with laughter, children, and chatter.  Hours after our arrival, good company and good food were steadily pouring in.  While we’re not much for large parties, this gathering was the largest gathering of American Muslim expats we had seen on this side of the Atlantic.  For the first time in the Gulf, Lil’ Z wasn’t the only brown girl in the room sporting cornrows and speaking English.

Our lively conversations covered parenting, natural birth, vegetarianism, the Hajj pilgrimage, and expat life.  The dinner spread was an omnivore’s delight leaving no one hungry or dissatisfied.  There I was in a room full of sisters and it felt good.  It was affirming to know that we’re not the only folks crossing the pond to make a life for ourselves abroad.  There’s a pulsing, thriving community of expats in the Gulf that is diverse enough to accommodate all facets of the Raggamuslim clan.  After exchanging contact info and gifts, we all parted like old friends and suggested the idea of meeting in Oman some time soon.

Day 3

Much like our trip to Abu Dhabi earlier this year, we found a generous buffet breakfast to fill our tanks before hitting the road.  I read a positive, veg-friendly review of Ayla Hotel’s restaurant and asked one of my friends to meet us there.  For 66 AED or $18 USD per person, we all found the meal to be a satisfying alternative to the larger five-star hotels in town.

Our plates were piled with fresh fruit, dates, nuts, cucumbers, olives, hummus, baba ghanoush, foul moudammas, baked beans, aloo matar, paratha, and vegetable fried rice.  The menu was international enough to accommodate every diet on the spectrum of the region’s demographics.  We gratefully caught the tail-end of the buffet and were the last to leave.

On the way to our border of choice, Mezyad, we stopped by Bawadi Mall to do some shopping for Lil’ Z.  By the time we finished our prayers and packed up our car, it was about 2pm.  We passed through the border with ease and enjoyed the quiet trip home.  Lil’ Z slept for most of our journey, just waking up a half hour before we arrived home at 5:30pm.  All in all, the trip was a smooth success that met and exceeded our expectations.  If a door opens up for us on the other side, we just might have to jump the border.