Moroccan Inspired Warm-Spiced Chickpeas
Warm spices, golden nutty chickpeas, bright red sauce, this dish feels like and makes a really good celebration dish, but is quick enough to enjoy anytime. This Moroccan inspired combination of spices includes cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, hot red pepper (the Aleppo pepper) and black pepper. While each spice plays a role, the cinnamon is what takes it over the top and fills the air with Fall and holidays. Turmeric adds an earthiness that is rounded by the cinnamon which gives a sweet sensation and taste. And whenever turmeric is used a little black pepper should be added too, both for flavor and it boosts the bioavailability for all the nutrients that turmeric brings.* Cumin adds a deeper flavor and slight smokiness, especially if you toast it a little in the pan as noted in step #6 below. Citrus notes come from the coriander, the seeds of the cilantro plant. Then for a little piquante, Aleppo pepper is perfect. Aleppo pepper is similar to hot red pepper flakes, but is less piquant, doesn’t have seeds and has more moisture. It tastes somewhat like a combination of paprika and cayenne, in fact if you don’t have Aleppo pepper, paprika and cayenne will substitute nicely. The apricots are optional, but give an extra sweetness and brings forward the spices a little more.
Chickpeas taste best when they are cooked from dried. In the technique section, see how to cook dried chickpeas and also get the resulting chickpea stock which you can use in this dish. You just need to remember to soak the beans the night before or in the early morning of the day you want to make this dish. This dish can be made any time of year. When red peppers are not in season, jarred red peppers work and taste good in this dish.
To see how this oil-free technique flows, you can view the 1 minute video in the Chile Bean Chili dish starting after the ancho peppers. Steps 1–6 and 8–11 in the instructions below the video are the same as in the Chili, just different ingredients (addition of ginger and different spices).
*Dr. Gregor of nutritionfacts.org wrote an article explaining how black pepper increases the bioavailability of turmeric.
- 1 large ripe red bell pepper (or jarred red pepper)
- 1 onion diced
- 1in x 2in piece ginger grated (about 2 Tbls)
- 4 cloves garlic grated (about 1 Tbls)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbls Aleppo or 1 tbls paprika plus 1/4- tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 2 tsps chickpea miso (optional)
- 2 cups of chickpea stock or vegetable stock
- 6 cups of cooked chickpeas or 4 cans of drained and rinsed
- 6 dried apricots sliced (optional)
- Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper and rough cut to fit in the blender cup or blender. Place the pepper in the blender cup or blender. If using a blender cup, wrap a paper towel around the top so the liquid doesn’t spatter out. Continue blending until you get a pretty smooth consistency. Set aside.
- Heat the pan to medium-high. Test the pan heat by putting a few onion pieces. The pan is ready if you hear a sizzle, the color changes quickly and the onions will jump about the pan.
- Put the onions in the pan and let cook a few minutes until they start to show color and even stick a little to the bottom of the pan, then stir a little to let more of the onions stick and pick up color. Sticking is a good thing at this point, just watch, stir and adjust heat if need to make sure it doesn’t burn. (3–5 minutes).
- Make a space in the center of the pan and add the grated ginger. Using the edge of the spatula push the ginger down to make a layer. Cook until it picks up a little color and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan so that it caramelizes a little and becomes fragrant (about 1–2 minutes).
- Do the same for the grated garlic next; make a space in the center of the pan and add the grated garlic. Using the edge of the spatula push the ginger down to make a layer. Cook until it picks up a little color and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan so that it caramelizes a little and becomes fragrant (about 1–2 minutes).
- Clear an area in the pan and sprinkle in the cumin and coriander. Let the spices cook until they just start to smoke and become fragrant (about 1 minute). This step brings out a toasty nutty flavor in the coriander and a, smoky flavor in the cumin.
- Sprinkle in the rest of the spices on the top of the onion mixture. These spices, turmeric, pepper, aleppo pepper and cinnamon don’t need toasting.
- Pour in the blended red bell pepper mixture and stir in onion mixture.
- Add the can of diced tomatoes to the blender along with the miso or salt if using and blend until smooth, then add to the pan as well and stir. This is a good time to take a taste, it will taste concentrated and not quite blended, but will give you an idea. If you want more of any of the spices, put some of this mixture in a small bowl and add the desired spiced to this mixture before adding back into the sauce. Doing it this way will make it so the spices aren't gritty.
- Then slowly add the vegetable stock.
- Add in the drained beans, stir, put the lid on and simmer for at least 20–30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the apricots if using about 10 minutes before cooking is finished. This will allow them to plump up and give a sweet note to the dish.
- Garnish with fresh herbs. Parsley and mint are both good choices for this dish.
- Enjoy accompanied with the saffron and lemon Infused basmati rice.
SOS Free Version: This warm-spiced dish is packed full of flavor. To make it SOS free, leave out the optional miso or salt. It is brightened with a squeeze of lemon juice right before service.