Monday, 31 August 2009

At Home: Spiced chickpeas with spinach

I have Niamh of to thank for this dish, which I've appropriated and only slightly adapted. Her 'Spiced chickpeas with spinach' recipe is ideal for lunch or a light dinner, under 30 minutes to make, and cheap. It's comfort food without the guilt. The humble chickpea is given a rough ride these days, and rarely makes it on to anything other than Middle Eastern or Indian restaurant menus. But why? It's an endlessly versatile creamy legume: you can mash it, fry it, boil it; turn it into soups, salads, curries, stews, and - of course - the ubiquitous hummus.

Here's my adaptation of Niamh's recipe. Serves 4.

• 800g tinned chickpeas, drained
• 1 tsp coriander seeds
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp garam masala
• ½ tsp chilli powder
• 1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
• thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
• 1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
• 2 tbsp tomato purée
• Juice of half a lemon
• A couple of handfuls of fresh spinach
• A handful of chopped fresh coriander
• Light olive oil for frying

Toast coriander and cumin in a hot dry frying pan for 30 seconds, or until they start to pop. Grind the toasted spices in a pestle and mortar. Combine with the turmeric, chilli and garam masala.

Fry the onion, celery, and aubergine in 2 tbsp oil until the onion is translucent and aubergine cooked through, add the spices, ginger, and garlic and fry for a minute. Add the tomato purée and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chickpeas and stir. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add another tbsp of oil, and 4 tbsp water, to bind the dish. Take off the heat and stir in the coriander leaves and lemon juice. Season to taste, and serve with toasted pitta breads and some yogurt.

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