We were transported back to Nice again last weekend when I made Socca, the tasty chickpea pancakes on sale in the narrow streets of Vieux Nice and popular along the Mediterranean coast to Tuscany where it is known as ‘Cecinata’ or ‘made of chickpeas’. On the Ligurian coast around Genoa, the locals call it ‘Farinata’. Variations of the recipe, taken by Ligurian migrants over the centuries, can be found as far away as Argentina and Uruguay. In Gibraltar, where a significant proportion of the population has Genoese origins, ‘Calentita’ (the baked version) and ‘Panissa’(fried) are described as national dishes.
Traditionally, in Nice, the batter of chickpea flour, olive oil and water is baked in the oven on a cast iron skillet but I prefer to use a frying pan brushed with oil. Try it with a glass of chilled, provençal rosé, pastis or a cold beer. A simple recipe for Socca, based on one I tweeked from the book ‘Provençal Cookery School’ by Gui Gedda and Marie-Pierre Moine, is below.
For more on our travels to Nice and a recipe for Pissaladière, have a look at this post that I wrote last year.
Recipe for Socca
3 tbsps olive oil + a little for oiling the pan
125g chickpea flour (gram flour)
1 tsp ground cumin
Fine sea salt & ground black pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle over the finished socca
Pour the water and olive oil into a large bowl.
Mix the chickpea flour with the ground cumin. Add a little fine salt and some ground black pepper to suit your tastes.
Gradually sift the flour mixture into the water and oil, a little at a time, whisking constantly.
Once you have a smooth batter, leave it to stand for an hour at room temperature.
To cook, oil a medium-sized frying pan and pour in a ladle-full of the mixture at a time, swirling it around to cover the pan. Cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes until browned and then turn over and repeat on the other side.
Alternatively, bake the socca batter in the oven at 230C/Gas Mark 8, on an oiled baking tray. The batter should be about 5mm deep in the tray. Bake for 15-20minutes.
Serve the Socca in slices with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a grinding of black pepper.