I never know where inspiration for new recipes will come from. In the case of this week’s column, it came from a little blue bag of Bamba, the ubiquitous Israeli children’s snack food. Bamba, a peanut-flavored corn puff, has a nice crunch and a pleasant, peanut buttery taste. The combination of taste and texture got me thinking about ways to use it in my cooking.
According to Osem, the company that manufactures and imports Bamba, the puffs are available at Bay Area specialty stores, in the kosher sections of several major supermarket chains and online.
Bamba adds a peanut punch to the tomato soup, but the recipe also works well without it. The Bamba Bombay Pockets combine several different Indian snack concepts. It’s in no way authentic, but its mix of tastes, textures and tangy sauce is very appealing. If you prefer, replace the Bamba with 1⁄4 cup dry roasted peanuts and 1⁄2 cup puffed wheat or rice cereal.
So grab a bag of Bamba — but be careful not too eat too many, you’ll need them to try the recipes below. Be sure to add the snack puffs just before serving; otherwise they will lose their crispness and crunch.
Spicy Tomato Soup with Bamba
2 Tbs. oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. finely minced jalapeño pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. curry powder
28-oz. can crushed tomatoes in purée
3 cups light vegetable stock or water
1⁄4 tsp. salt or to taste
1⁄2 tsp. sugar, optional
About 2 cups Bamba
1⁄2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until limp, add garlic and sauté until light brown, then add jalapeño, ginger, black pepper and curry powder. Sauté for 1 minute. Add canned tomatoes with purée and stock. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste and add salt to taste and sugar if desired. Serve in individual bowls. Add 4 Bamba to each bowl, stir and let dissolve. Top with a dollop of sour cream and pass additional Bamba as croutons.
Bamba Bombay Pockets
Serves about 6-8 as an appetizer
3⁄4 cup baking potatoes, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes (peeling optional)
3⁄4 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
1⁄2 cup chopped red onion
1⁄4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1⁄4 cup minced fresh mint
1⁄2 tsp. salt
15 mini pitas (about 21⁄2 inches in diameter) or 4 regular-size pitas
1⁄2 oz. Bamba, chopped into fourths (about 3/4 cup)
1 recipe sauce (see below)
Mix 1 Tbs. tamarind paste with 1 tsp. date syrup and 2 tsp. water. An alternative is to mix 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. of molasses or pomegranate molasses with 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1⁄2 tsp. brown sugar and 1 tsp. water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 baking pans. Put potato cubes in single layer on one, spray potatoes. Place chickpeas on the other pan, spray. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally until potatoes are cooked through and beginning to get crisp. Cool.
Mix potatoes and chickpeas in large bowl with onion, cilantro, mint and salt. Right before serving, heat pitas in oven or dry skillet until hot and puffed. Mix Bamba into potatoes and chickpeas. If using mini pitas, snip off top and put about 11⁄2 Tbs. of the Bamba mix into each. If using full-size pitas, cut in half and full each half with 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup of the mix. Drizzle with sauce immediately before serving.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.