Calentita – the quintessential 'Yanito' dish. Every Gibraltarian knows how to cook calentita! Or so they should, it is a matter of national pride.
It is believed this dish is based on the Genoese 'farinata' which is cooked thinner and often with toppings whereas calentita is cooked in a deeper pan and is never topped with anything but black pepper.
The name 'calentita' has a most interesting history. When Gibraltarian evacuees returned to Gibraltar after World War II many were forced to live in cramped and often inadequate housing. Not all homes had workable ovens and people cooked mainly Spanish style stews (potajes) and similar dishes. However, the local bakeries took advantage of this and would use their ovens in slack periods to make calentita which was sold by street vendors (this had been the fashion before the war when almost no-one had an oven at home). The calentita would be baked in a large low pan (similar to a frying pan of diameter about 90 cm with two small grab handles) with a metal hinged lid. The vendor would then walk along the streets on the Rock shouting out his wares. His shout would be similar to this: 'La llevo caliente, calentita! Calentita, caliente!' A simple translation would be: 'Hot! Come and get it! I still have it hot!'. Caliente means hot and calentita is an endearing version of hot! Everyone would rush to him and buy a portion which was invariably about 8cm by 5cm and cost 6d (about 2 1/2p of today's money) and was served on a piece of greaseproof paper. The vendor would sprinkle ground pepper on it and off you went!
- Mix chickpea flour and water and salt/pepper in a bowl. Leave to stand, preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Take a tin 9x6 inches (15x23cms) or oven dish and put enough oil to cover bottom of tin or bowl. Heat in oven.
- Then spread hot oil up sides of tin with a pastry brush or by tilting. Stir mixture and pour immediately into tin, and put back in oven for about 1 hour approximately or until set in the middle.
- Leave to stand for a while.
- Good for two or three servings.