Karantika – a homemade version of the popular Algerian restaurant / street vendor dish: chickpea flour (gram / besan flour) flan a creamy, cumin-heavy sandwich filling.
Sold in thick wobbly wedges or in a sandwich along with fries and harissa – hot pepper paste. It’s known by many name variations: Calentica, Garantita, Karantita or Kebda Bëida white liver because of its resemblance to liver pâté.
Origin of Calentica (Karantika)
The dish is said to have been created by the spanish military when they were trapped inside the fort of Santa Cruz in Oran, Algeria without plentiful food supplies.
The name Calentica means “all warm” in Spanish and comes from the word caliente meaning “hot”.
The Oranaise and most original version of the flan is very simple and cheap to make using only the basic ingredients of gram flour, salt, cumin, olive oil and water.
In Algiers the flan is enriched with eggs.
The Italians have something similar, all be it a thinner pancake-like creation called Farinata.
As the Karantika is homemade, you are in complete control of what goes into the dish. As I mentioned it is often made with water and without eggs however, I prefer my rich creamy version made partly with milk and egg.
The type of oil you use is up to you too; veg, sunflower and olive all work well. I do insist being generous when sprinkling the ground cumin, as the flavour compliments chickpeas so well.
My homemade Karantika is thinner, less wobbly or liver like than the restaurant version, therefore much more appealing, especially to children.
I chose a large shallow baking tray to cook the flan in. Mainly because I have a limited bakeware range since coming to Algeria and as the batter is so thin it didn’t want to stay inside a springform pan. The good news is, cooking it in a large shallow tray means it cooks very quickly, 8-12 minutes under the grill / broiler.
You can double the recipe or use a smaller tray for a thicker flan and adjust the cooking time. An indication of when the Garantita is ready / cooked, is when a slight crust forms and/or you get brown patches on the surface.
Many people prefer to eat Karantika warm and it can be reheated; I found 30 secs in the microwave is enough. I have to say though that I like the flan once it’s setup in the fridge, served cold inside a sandwich with harissa and some slices of tomato.
Think of it like a vegetarian alternative to luncheon meat and it’s gluten-free (before it goes inside a baguette!).
Algerian savoury chickpea flour flan and an excellent sandwich filling
- 240g chickpea flour (gram / besan flour)
- 500ml milk
- 450ml water
- 120ml oil (veg/sunflower/olive oil)
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 big pinch of ground cumin
- Pre-heat grill / broiler on highest temperature. Lightly oil a 45cm x 38cm shallow baking tray (you can use any shape, size you like but remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly)
- In a large blender or large bowl with a stick blender place all ingredients except cumin and blend until smooth.
- Gently pour the thin batter into the tray sprinkle generously with cumin and place directly under grill / broiler and cook for 8-12 minutes or until a thin crust as formed and/or there are brown patches on the surface of the flan.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes. Serve warm with fries and salad or inside a sandwich with a dash of harissa paste and your selection of salad and/or fries.
Leftovers can be refrigerated for upto 4 days. Re-heat portions of the flan in a microwave for about 30 seconds on full power.