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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Curl Up with Comfort Food

Rain is in the forecast again for this weekend. I don't care -- we need the rain, so no complaints here.

But this sort of weather calls for food that warms your belly... and perhaps because you have some extra time since you're cooped up indoors, you can make this (though it isn't time-consuming or hard.) This, or my recipe from the long weekend, are worth hanging on to.

One of my students actually used the exclamation "My lands!" today... and that phrase fits perfectly as a response after having a spoonful of this stew. It is outrageously flavorful. And a little different, which I'm chalking up to its Ethiopian inspiration.

If you don't have the spices this stew calls for, go to a local international market and pick them up. Then start cooking more Indian, Thai and heck, Ethiopian dishes. I had all of these spices on hand and it made for one deeeelightful dinner. Leftovers, after the spices get to percolate even longer, will be EPIC. It will also serve as a handy go-to option, if you are one to keep a can or two of garbanzo beans on hand, along with a bag of potatoes... both of which I have around regularly. Garbanzo beans (or chickpeas, I guess) are great for making hummus, vegetarian tacos (seriously, try it), minestrone soup, or simply as a reliable protein source for any Indian dish. Yes, I'm trying to sell you on the ugly little buggers...

Full disclosure: I got this recipe from the Whole Foods weekly newsletter... it's becoming a keeper


Chickpea stews with flavors similar to this one are often made in Ethiopia using ground roasted chickpeas or even split peas. Here, the method is simplified but the stew's sweet, fragrant spice mixture, which Ethiopians call berbere, remains. If you're in a hurry, omit roasting the chickpeas and simply add them to the stew after they've been rinsed and drained. This recipe was inspired by a Whole Planet Foundation microcredit client who runs a chickpea roasting business.


1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (I have cardamom seeds around for chai... make sure you shell them first)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (I hate carrots. I used some turnips instead)
Flatbread or rice


Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir together paprika, salt, allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cayenne, fenugreek (if using) and ginger in a small bowl; set spice mixture aside.

Toss chickpeas with a tablespoon of the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. Roast chickpeas, stirring occasionally, until somewhat dried out and just golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and chopped ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in reserved spice mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until spices are toasted and very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes more.

Stir in broth, potatoes, carrots and reserved chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are just tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover pot and simmer until stew is thickened and potatoes and carrots are very tender, about 25 minutes more. Ladle stew into bowls and serve with flatbread (or rice) on the side.

P.S. I added some chopped cilantro on top, along with some yogurt, before serving.


Per serving: 400 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 710mg sodium, 66g total carbohydrate (10g dietary fiber, 8g sugar), 13g protein

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