Funny how when you hear about an unfamiliar place or discover the meaning of a hitherto unfamiliar word, it seems to pop up regularly here and there within the next few weeks.

Well my new discovery is aquafaba, not only is it a new word to me but also a new, exciting, almost magical ingredient.
When I thought about it for a moment it is easy to translate, Aqua- water and faba– beans. Aquafaba is the liquid in tins of beans or the cooking liquid left over after cooking your own. Really good stuff, full of protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, so worth saving for soup, stews and stock.

But that’s not all; a clever Frenchman discovered that if you whipped the aquafaba, it fluffs up into a light meringue….
Turns out that the unique mix of starches, proteins, fibre and sugars gives aquafaba a wide range of emulsifying, foaming, binding and thickening properties making it the perfect ingredient for vegan cooking or for those who have an egg allergy.

How amazing that the bean liquid that many of us just chucked down the sink is a precious ingredient now provoking a culinary revolution.

I first tasted a meringue made from chickpea water in a Mexican restaurant in New York ???? about 4 years ago – it was the talk of the town at that stage. Light, delicious and mysterious, I had no idea how to reproduce it.

But recently the word aquafaba has started to pop up as an ingredient in food magazines and then as if by magic a book “Aquafaba” arrived on my desk, imagine, a whole book of recipes using aquafaba. Written by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power.
The properties of aquafaba were discovered not by a chemist, professional chef or molecular gastronomer but by a curios singer and vegan blogger who tested all manner of things in a desperate effort to achieve a vegan mousse to make one of his favourite dishes ‘Îles Flottantes’ or what we call floating islands.
Others were experimenting with flaxseed concoctions, pure soya protein, CO2 cartridges and a variety of imaginative ideas but still no stable foams that would remain firm in both raw and cooked dishes.

Joël Roessel who made the amazing discovery shared the breakthrough on his blog “Révolution Végétale” and the vegan culinary bloggers went into a frenzy of testing. Word spread like wildfire on social media… Goose Wohlt from the US is the person credited with christening the left over liquid from cooking beans – aquafaba – a far sexier term than the latter. The rest is history, albeit a new history because it all began in late 2014 but its fame has spread with the vegan revolution. Who knew before Joël Roessel’s discovery that the viscous liquid from a tin of chickpeas reacted just like egg whites….

So where can we find aquafaba? As yet it’s not possible to buy commercial, ready-to-use aqua faba, although I bet it’s on its way.

However there are two ways to obtain it,
1) Save the liquid from a tin or jar of cooked, (unflavoured) chickpeas. An 800g tin will yield approx. 250ml of aquafaba.
2) Soak and cook your own chickpeas at home, save the cooking liquid, better quality but not instant…

Aquafaba will keep in a fridge for 6 to 7 days in a tightly sealed glass jar or bottle. It will look cloudy and may separate, but just shake the jar to re-amalgamate. Alternatively freeze it – an ice cube tray is perfect. Store in a plastic bag or box and deforest as needed.


Aquafaba Royal Hummus
Do not mess with this emblematic speciality! Hummus is THE thing that everyone loves, that gives you a huge appetite even if you’re not hungry. It’s incredibly addictive. And as everyone knows: ‘Hummus one day, hummus every day!’
Serves 4 – preparation time: 15 minutes
500g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
100ml (3½fl oz) cold water
20ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
3g (½ teaspoons) unrefined fine salt
3g (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
15ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
150g (5oz) tahini
2 garlic cloves

Set aside 10 chickpeas to use as decoration.

Pour the cold water, lemon juice, fine salt, cumin and olive oil into the bowl of a blender. Add the chickpeas, tahini and pressed garlic cloves.

Mix at full power for 5 minutes. The mixture should be completely smooth.

If it still looks a bit lumpy, add a splash of cold water and mix again.

Transfer the hummus onto a soup plate, add a generous dash of olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar.

Garnish with the chickpeas and serve.

We use a pre-prepared Lebanese ‘za’atar’ mixture containing a mixture of herbs (wild thyme, marjoram, hyssop, sumac, sesame, salt). There are as many types of za’atar as regions in the Middle East. Therefore, there is no ‘true’ za’atar, just many different types depending on the region.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Chickpea Curry
Indian cuisine is full of great ideas about how to cook legumes. It has to be said, plain chickpeas don’t make the most glamorous of dishes and many people are reluctant to eat it in its most rudimentary form. However, in a curry, chickpeas are a real delight, mixing intense flavours and melt-in-your mouth textures.

Serves 4

1 red onion
10g (1/2 oz) fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
2g (1½ teaspoons) coriander seeds
2g (1 teaspoon) cumin seeds
20ml (1 tablespoon) rapeseed oil
10 curry leaves
9g (1 tablespoon) Madras curry powder
400 ml (14fl oz) coconut milk
50 g (4 tablespoons) tomato purée
500 g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
½ lime
Pinch of fine salt
Fresh coriander

Finely slice the onion, ginger and garlic. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the coriander and cumin seeds. In a large cooking pot, heat the rapeseed oil, add the crushed spices and curry leaves, and
heat for 30 seconds before adding the chopped onion/ginger/garlic.

Brown for 2 minutes then add the Madras curry powder, mix and add 50 ml of water. Reduce the heat for a few minutes before pouring in the coconut milk and adding the tomato purée. Season with salt, mix well. When the liquid starts to simmer, add the chickpeas, cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes. Add the juice of half a lime, mix and serve. Scatter fresh coriander leaves over as a garnish.

Basmati rice makes a perfect accompaniment to this dish.

Madras curry is a fairly hot spice mix with deliciously spicy notes. If you are sensitive to these types of spices, we recommend a mild curry spice so that you can still enjoy the dish.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Tandoori Roasted Chickpeas
Bored of the same old crisps and peanuts with your apéritif? Why not try roasted chickpeas for a change? It’s original and nutritious. Keep the great tastes, but without the saturated fats. Crunchy on the outside, melting in the middle, these tandoori roasted chickpeas are your new best friend.

Serves 4 – preparation time: 5 minutes – cooking time: 40 minutes

500 g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
20 ml (1tablespoon) vegetable oil
15 ml (1 tablespoon) coconut cream
2 g (1⁄3 teaspoon) unrefined fine salt
5 g (2 teaspoons) tandoori spice mix

Leave the chickpeas to dry in the open air overnight.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.

Combine the oil, coconut cream, salt and half the tandoori spice mix in a mixing bowl. Add the chickpeas and mix everything thoroughly.

Finish with the rest of the tandoori mix and combine one last time.

Spread on a baking tray covered with baking paper, making sure not to layer up the chickpeas. Bake for 40 minutes.

Leave to cool before serving.

Keep in a paper bag, in a dry place and eat within 48 hours.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Almond Meringues
Meringues come in many different flavours, shapes and forms. But one of the most emblematic is the kind you find in bakery windows: a vanilla-flavoured, white meringue, sprinkled with grilled almonds. The taste will put you up on cloud nine!
Makes 7 meringues
100 ml (3½fl oz) aquafaba
3 ml (2/3 teaspoon) lemon juice
5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
200 g (7oz) icing sugar
4 g (1 teaspoon) cream of tartar
Flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas ½. Move the oven shelf to the bottom of the oven. Pour the aquafaba, lemon juice and vanilla extract into the stand mixer and whisk at full power for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with the cream of tartar, and sieve to remove any lumps of sugar.
Once the aquafaba mixture has formed stiff peaks, add the icing sugar mixture gradually, whisking for a further 3 minutes. The meringue mixture is ready to use when it doesn’t fall easily from the whisk. Use the mixture to fill a pastry bag with a star-shaped nozzle. Pipe out equally sized meringues on a baking tray covered with baking paper.
Sprinkle some almond flakes on top, pressing lightly to embed them and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes without opening the oven. Leave to cool completely and store in a dry place for a half or whole day before serving.
The meringues can be kept for a few days in a dry place and in the open air.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse
There are numerous chocolate mousse recipes for vegans. However, for many the name is merely symbolic. The reason is that whisked egg whites are the key ingredient for making this dessert with its unique texture: it was foolish to think we could get the same texture using silken tofu. Luckily, aquafaba has arrived and has revolutionised everything!

Serves 2–4
Preparation time: 15 minutes – resting time: 3 hours

200 g (7oz) dark chocolate (74% cocoa maximum)
½ tonka bean
200 ml (7fl oz) aquafaba
5 ml (1 teaspoon) cider vinegar
100 g (3½ oz) icing sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie over a very low heat, grate the tonka bean over the top and incorporate.

Once the chocolate is partially melted, remove from the heat and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, pour the aquafaba and vinegar into the stand mixer.

Whisk at full power until the liquid forms soft peaks. Sprinkle in the icing sugar, continuing to whisk. The mixture should form stiff peaks. Whisk for 10 minutes.

Stop the stand mixer, remove the whisk and pour the melted chocolate over the stiff peaks. Gently fold the two mixtures together, using a spatula and taking care to stir in the same direction lifting the peaks so that they don’t disintegrate.


About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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