Monday, February 28, 2011

Ethiopian-inspired Vegetable Chickpea Stew

Do you like spicy food?  I don't mean "hot" spicy here; I mean "full of spice."  If the answer is yes, then this is probably something you'll enjoy - a lot.  This is some seriously spicy stew.

Not that you can't make this "hot" spicy if you want - it's just that it's not necessary.  Even a mild version of this bursts with flavor, the layers lining up one after the other to impress your taste buds.  The spices are some of the main ingredients for the Ethiopian spice blend berbere, used to flavor simmering stews (or wats) that are then served over injera, a traditional spongy flatbread that is used both to hold and to scoop up the stew.  If you're feeling a little adventurous, ditch your utensils for this meal and try using flatbread or even regular bread to scoop this up with your hands - eating this way is a different, and really fun, kind of tactile experience.  

This can be made completely vegan, but non-vegetarians can also use chicken stock and throw in a few diced chicken breasts if they so desire.  You can adjust the seasonings to your own taste, adding a little less of one or a little more of another.  Serve with injera flatbread, over rice, or even on its own as a thick stew.  

Ethiopian-inspired Vegetable Chickpea Stew (Adapted from this Whole Foods recipe)
Makes 4 - 6 servings

1/2 tsp. ground coriander (or 1/2 tsp. whole coriander seeds, toasted lightly and ground)
1/2 tsp. ground cloves (or 1/2 tsp. whole cloves, toasted lightly and ground)
1/4 tsp. fenugreek (optional)
6 cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom)
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. salt (plus more to taste later)
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on taste)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste mixed with 1 3/4 cup hot water
1 quart  vegetable or chicken broth
3 medium potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
12 baby carrots or 4 regular carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
Optional for non-vegetarians: 2 - 3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

Mix the ground spices together in a small bowl and set aside.

If you're in a hurry, don't worry about roasting the chickpeas; just drain them and rinse well before adding to the stew.  If you do want to roast them, preheat the oven to 450 F.  Drain and rinse well and then toss with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil and a dash of salt.  Spread into a baking pan and roast for 16 - 18 minutes, stirring gently every few minutes so they do not burn.  When they are slightly browned, remove from oven and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the other 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Add the diced onions and cook for 2 - 3 minutes; add the fresh garlic and ginger and continue to saute for another 5 - 6 minutes or until the onion is translucent.  Add the spice mixture and stir constantly for about 2 minutes to toast them. Add the tomato paste mixed with water and stir well and bring to a boil.

Now add the chickpeas, vegetable or chicken stock, potatoes, and carrots and stir well.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are soft.  If you want to add chicken, add it now and cook for 7-9  minutes or just until cooked through.  Adjust seasonings (especially salt and pepper) as desired.

Serve with gluten-free injera flatbread or brown rice.  Garnish with fresh parsley. 


Ann said...

hey this looks great! Where would one find injera flatbread? Or, do you usually make this from scratch?

I'll definately add this to this week's dinner menu. :-)


Claire Berman said...

Hi Ann! I did actually make the injera bread in the photo, but I haven't quite perfected the recipe so didn't want to post it yet. Here is one you could try (although it looks like it needs several days to ferment...):

Chef In You

I'll work on perfecting my ow recipe and will share it ASAP! In the meantime, you could definitely make your favorite crepes or rice to eat it with. I hope you enjoy :)