Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mica's chickpeas

Mica Hoodbhoy is 50% Turkish, 50% Pakistani, but 100% gastronome.  She is one of the people, and they are relatively few (no offense intended to the rest of you), whose taste in food I really respect. This is her recipe, more or less, for chickpeas cooked with tomatoes and spinach.  You can add roasted or fried eggplant if you want to, but you really don't have to.  It is a cinch.   I made it with canned chickpeas and it was just fine.  You can make it with chickpeas you cook yourself and it will be even better.  This is a very easy vegetarian main dish to whip up on short notice.

Mica's chickpeas

  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 4-10 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • a few grindings black pepper
  • 14 or 28 ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes, with liquid (depends on how tomatoe-y you want the dish)
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch pieces and broiled (optional)
  • 19 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained well (or 2-3 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • salt to taste
  • 10 ounces - 1 pound fresh spinach, shredded (I find that the pre-washed large leaf spinach works well here)
  • 1 - 3 teaspoons dried spearmint (don't use peppermint here)

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in large pot or skillet. 
  2. Add cumin seed and cook for a minute or so until it darkens slightly.
  3. Add onion and saute until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and saute for a minute or two, but do not brown. 
  5. Add the Aleppo and black peppers and saute on low another minute.
  6. Add tomatoes and cook on high for about 10 minutes until the oil separates and it thickens into a sauce.
  7. Add chickpeas, eggplant and salt to taste and cook until eggplant is soft and chickpeas are hot.
  8. Add spinach, cover and cook until spinach is done to taste. (Some people like it barely cooked, some like it cooked much longer.  The time will depend on your taste, as well as the size and shape of the pot. Don't get me started about how long it takes things to cook......)
  9. Add the spearmint.  If it is crushed and clean, you can add it straight to the pot.  If it is in leaf form, you have to push it through a sieve to leave the debris behind.
  10. Cook another few minutes and serve with rice, bulgur, pita or couscous.  It is also nice with yoghurt, especially with a crushed clove of garlic and some salt.
  11. Serves 3-4 as a main dish depending on what else your are serving, and many more as a side.

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