Our house is a breakfast-for-dinner lover's haven, and vice versa. We love having last night's leftovers for this morning's breakfast, and we're talking not just pizza. When I'd visit my relatives in India, very little difference existed between what we'd have for breakfast vs. lunch vs. dinner. A traditional American sweet breakfast (cinnamon rolls, sugary cereals, French toast) is unheard of there, or at least it still was in the '90s when I last visited. With the West's infiltration of India's dining scene (KFCs and McDonald's can now be found in most every major city there), Indians may be getting exposed to the American idea of breakfast. I certainly grew up with the western notion of the first meal of the day, but now that I'm married to the King of Leftovers, I'm placing fewer parameters on when to eat what.
But having grown up in the South (southern Missouri, to be exact), which is influenced by African-American cooking traditions, I knew of the chicken and waffles phenomenon, but I had never known its history. Is it a Southern thing? Is it soul food? A little research took me to this site, which acknowledges a famous eatery in L.A., but really points to a supper club in Harlem as having started it all—a place where the owners wanted to serve late-night patrons a little breakfast and dinner at the same time, while also playing on the African-American tradition of something sweet with a little savory.
How ever it came to be (from the East, West, or South), I have put my own Indian-American spin on this recipe here. This can be made gluten-free, by replacing the half cup of regular all-purpose flour with a gluten-free blend, and/or sugar-free, as the brown sugar is negligible and could be left out. However, you won't get the notable crisp texture of a good waffle without any sugar at all, so I'd keep it in there and cut sugar somewhere else for the day if need be. You can also use this batter as a pancake batter, if you don't have a waffle maker.
Panko-Encrusted Masala Chicken and Chickpea-Cilantro Waffles with Chai Maple Syrup
For the chicken:
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg white
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 teaspoon mild curry powder or garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried parsley or tarragon
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Slice chicken breasts into 2-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In shallow bowl, lightly beat egg white. In a separate shallow bowl, combine panko and spices and mix well. Dip chicken chunks in egg white and then panko mixture, making sure to cover pieces well. Place evenly on baking sheet. Bake 17-20 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Serve with waffles and chai maple syrup.
For the waffles:
3/4 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, optional
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
Preheat and lightly grease a waffle maker. In a large bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and brown sugar. In a separate bowl or glass measure, combine buttermilk, butter, and eggs, stirring well. Make a well in flour mixture and slowly whisk in buttermilk mixture. Stir in cilantro. Allow to thicken for 20 minutes.
Pour 1/3 cup mixture over each preheated and greased waffle grid (1/4 cup per well if using mini Belgian waffle maker). Close lid and cook until both sides are golden brown. Repeat until all batter is used. Serve with chicken and chai maple syrup. Serves 4-6.
1 cup maple syrup
2 decaffeinated chai teabags
Heat syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add teabags and bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep 20 minutes. Serve warm over chicken and waffles.
Note: Chickpea waffles recipe adapted from livingwithout.com.