Chickpeas and vegetables swim in a floral-spiced broth with golden raisins and intense granny smith apple spice bombs. Incredibly easy, and satisfying for our SOS-free plant based friends and omnivores alike.
It’s all in the spices.
When Chef AJ asked me to do a cooking demonstration on her Youtube channel, I knew I had to do a vegan chickpea stew because to me this is the perfect canvas to show how many, many signature dishes can be based off of a single recipe by using pre-mixed spice blends.
The idea behind this dish is a basic recipe consisting of 1) sautéed vegetables, 2) broth, 3) vegetables simmered in the broth, and 4) a highlight flavor (spicebombs in this recipe) intensely spiced with a complimenting spice blend. Anyone can do it, and the basic recipe can be changed by slightly changing the profile of the vegetables and the spice blends. This recipe is for a moroccan-themed entrée, but by adding some water chestnuts and snow peas, and using Jin Yong for the simmer, and Chinese 5-spice on the spicebombs, you have a cantonese stew. By using Porcini Mushroom Rub for the simmer, and Pepperoni Spice on Cremoni mushrooms for the spicebombs you get a Northern Italian flavor. It couldn’t be easier!
For the spice blends, I used La Kama and Ras el Hanout. They are a perfect pairing, sharing Turmeric, Ginger, Cassia Cinnamon, and Nutmeg as signature flavors, and both being icons of the Moroccan cooking canon. La Kama is a supporting flavor, enhancing the flavors of the vegetables and broth, while the showier and more muscular Ras El Hanout makes the Spicebombs really stand out, providing a signature flavor that accentuates and complements the La Kama-seasoned pottage.
For the broth, I usually use whatever broth I have in my refrigerator, made from scraps of whatever organic vegetables I have been cooking with. In this case, we have been cooking a lot recently with fresh herbs (see our last newsletter on the existential pleasure of cooking with herbs), so this broth was unusually light, and strongly flavored with the stems of peppermint, which was a perfect foil for this Moroccan-themed meal. If you do not have broth available, a strong peppermint tea would work well for this recipe.
For the Chickpeas I used canned, although mostly I prefer to cook my chickpeas from dried. Do not drain/rinse the chickpeas. The liquid that the chickpeas are canned with (called aquafaba) is a natural thickening agent, and helps this dish thicken as it simmers. If you are using dried chickpeas, include the aquafaba (water used to cook beans in).
Spicebombs — We like layering flavors in our cooking. It helps with your overall satisfaction with the flavoring, particularly if you are cutting out elemental flavors like salt and sugar, so we wanted a comforting flavor in the stew, plus a bold, spicy flavor in distinct bits to grab your tastebuds and give them a healthy shake. We first tried air-fried spiced chickpeas, which were delicious and felt like croutons in the dish, but just didn’t carry enough spice to satisfy what we were going for. We ended up liking air-fried mushrooms or apple pieces marinated in lemon juice and spices, the combination of the sweet/sour apple, the acid from the lemon and the audacious aromatics of Morocco’s most storied curry hit all of our buttons.
So. let’s get started…
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4″ cubes (I used Granny Smiths)
1 1/2 TBSP, Ras El Hanout spice blend
Juice from 1 lemon
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBSP fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Small Fennel bulb or 2 Celery stalks, chopped
1 TBSP, La Kama spice blend
1 15-ounce can, chickpeas with aquafaba
1.5 lbs yukon gold or russet potatoes, scraped and cut into 3/4 inch dice
3 medium or 2 large carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into 1/4″ medallions
3 cups of vegetable stock, herbal tea, or water
1/4 cup, golden raisins
1/2 jalapeno chile, minced
cherry tomatoes, cut in half
white or brown rice, prepared your favorite way, to be ready to serve with the stew.
1) Spice Bombs
Coat apples generously with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Sprinkle Ras El Hanout on top and toss until evenly coated. Cook in an air fryer at 400 degrees for between 5 and 10 minutes (I have found that different air fryers cook at different rates) until the outer surface is dry, and the apple pieces just beginning to soften. Set aside.
Sauté onion until just turning translucent, add fennel bulb or celery and garlic, continue cooking for a few minutes, then sprinkle La Kama over the top, stirring constantly. The spice should blend in with the onions, and begin to release its aromatics, but be careful not to burn the spices.
Add carrots, ginger, potatoes, jalapeno, chickpeas, and broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are soft. Add tomatoes and golden raisins for a final 5 minutes, followed by the spice bombs, and serve over rice.
La Kama meaning “the bed” in Darija is the most common spice blend used in Moroccan cooking. Credited by some as originating in Tangiers, its aromatic sweet and warming flavor can be found in a multitude of dishes throughout the Barbary Coast and Middle East. Use as a dry rub; in marinades, curries, and soups; or with lentils, couscous, rice or other grains.
Ras el Hanout (“top of the shop” in Arabic) is an iconic curry blend from Morocco using the most valuable spices in the shop. Our blend pairs Mace, Galangal, Cardamom, Turmeric, and Cinnamon, supported by just the right amount of heat from de Arbol Chiles. Rub into meats or vegetables, build a traditional curry, or add to oil to create a marinade. Perfect with chicken, lamb, pork, or squash, yams, or sweet potatoes.