Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Out of the Bag: Bamba Adds Taste and Crunch to Tomato Soup, Indian Snack and Sundae Recipes

A bag of Bamba and Bamba Bombay Pockets
 I never know where inspiration for new recipes will come from. In the case of  the soup, snack and ice cream sundae recipes below 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 of ways to use it in my cooking.

When I started to develop these recipes everyone I spoke to (including the marketing representative from Osem, the company that manufactures and imports Bamba) was pretty much incredulous that one would try to use the puffs in any way than eating them straight out of the bag. But the snack food's flavor and crunch intrigued me, maybe because I didn't grow up with it and associate as a kid's food. (Note: the link to Osem is to the British branch. The USA branch is revising its website and the parent Israeli site is only in Hebrew at this time.)

The puffs are available at Bay area specialty stores, the kosher sections of several major supermarket chains and on line. 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 to the pockets and sundae just before serving otherwise they will lose their crispness and crunch.

Spicy Tomato Soup with Bamba
Serves 4-6

Bamba adds a peanut punch to this soup, but the recipe works well without it. The soup itself is parve (neither meat nor milk) and vegan so if that is a concern for you skip the dairy topping or use a non-dairy yogurt instead.

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
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree
3 cups light vegetable stock OR water
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
1/2 tsp. sugar, optional
About 2 cups of Bamba
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, sautéed until limp, add garlic sauté until light brown, add jalapeño, ginger, black pepper, and curry powder. Sauté for 1 minute. Add canned tomatoes with puree 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

This recipe combines 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 a quarter cup of dry roasted peanuts and a half cup of puffed wheat or rice cereal.

Oil spray
3/4 cup 1/4” cubed baking potatoes (peeling optional)
3/4 cup of 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 2 and 1/2” in diameter) OR 4 regular-size pitas
1/2 oz. Bamba, chopped into fourths (about 3/4 cup)
1 recipe sauce (see below)

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 1 and1/2 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.

Sauce: 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.

Bamba Ice Cream Sundae with Choco-Hazelnut Sauce
Makes 1 Sundae

Osem is introducing a new flavor of Bamba in the U.S. with a chocolate-hazelnut paste filling.  I haven't seen it in stores (although it is listed in the Amazon store), but it inspired this sundae and the luscious sauce which would work well wherever a chocolate sauce is needed. Chopped peanuts make a good substitute for the Bamba.

3-4 Tbs. Choco-Hazelnut Sauce (see below), divided
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1 Tbs. crushed Bamba

Spoon a tablespoon or two of the sauce on the sides and bottom of sundae dish. Add ice cream, top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with crushed Bamba.

Choco-Hazelnut Sauce: Heat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream over medium-low heat until simmering, stirring often. Add 2 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate, stirring until completely melted. Add 1/2 cup of chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella, which is what I used), stirring until completely incorporated. Let sauce cool to room temperature (it will thicken as it cools.) Store in refrigerator. Allow to return to room temperature before using. Makes 1 and 1/2 cups.

Note: a version of this post appeared in the j. weekly.


anunturi gratuite said...

This tomato soup looks so good and i`m sure it is delicious. I think that is not a very difficult recipe so i will try it for sure. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Luna Raven said...

I love that you came up with three different ways to use this interesting snack. And thanks for sharing them at the picnic, they were fun to try!

FJKramer said...

Thanks Anunturi and Luna -- It was a lot of fun coming up with these recipes.

R.E. Resource said...

Recently I had an appetizer at Bocanova that was made with Shishito peppers. Do you have any idea of where I can buy them? (They are also supposed to be very similar to Padron Peppers as well.

FJKramer said...

Hi RE (Phil),

Have you tried Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market? Or even Toyoko Fish? I'll keep an eye out and let you know if I see them anywhere in the Bay area. Pardon peppers are sometimes available at Spanish Table on San Pablo.