I was chatting with my friend K’s daughter the other day about what we’re most looking forward to this Christmas. She of course is excited for presents; last year she got a little sister, I don’t know how her parents are going to top that one. Another thing she was exciting about is making snowman pancakes with her granddad when he comes home for the holidays.
This made me think about the holidays and how integral food is to the holidays.
Food at this time of the year is almost as important as the family we break bread with; it provides us a reason to gather and to celebrate.
I love that I come from a family of food lovers and ‘food sharers’ – Christmas celebrations at my grandmother’s included the task of delivering cakes to friends and neighbours.
On Christmas morning, she’d cook a giant pot of jollof over an open wood fire to share with friends and family, it was always vibrantly orange and fragrant with subtle hints of smoke.
This hearty chickpea stew is the type of food that comes to mind when I think of sharing meals over the holidays. It’s hearty like its name suggests, plentiful, filling and vibrant like my grandmother’s jollof.
My sister, @pearlsa makes this stew. She’s taken over the helm as the family cook and inherited my grandmother’s spirit of generosity, she always makes enough to share with family, friends and neighbours.
It’s a simple but rich and flavourful dish; chickpeas are stewed in a warm and tangy spiced broth of tomatoes and finished off with a splash of lemon juice.
It’s an adaptation of channa masala with discreet elements of a traditional Ghanaian stew.
It’s intensely satisfying served over warm rice, we love a sprinkle of crushed toasted nuts and some fresh lemon juice over it.
Left overs are even better because the sauce thickens and time allows the flavours to deepen some more.
It’s also wonderful on those super dark wintery days when you crave meals that are especially comforting, filling and nutritious.
- 1/8 - 1/4 cup coconut oil (about 2 – 4 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 cups crushed tomatoes (or 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 1/2 - 4 cups cooked chickpeas (about 2 15-oz canned beans)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more or less to taste
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon, plus more for serving
- Freshly ground black pepper and chopped fresh cilantro for serving
- Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat
- When oil is hot, add mustard seeds, ground cumin and coriander
- Stir and cook for about a minute or so until spices are fragrant and mustard seeds start popping
- Add onions and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until onions start to soften
- Add turmeric powder, tomatoes, chili powder and ground ginger, let it cook for 3 – 5 minutes
- Add chickpeas, let the stew cook for a few minutes, stir occasionally and let it come to a gentle boil
- Add salt, lower heat and let stew simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes or so to let the flavours meld and the oil rise to the top
- Check seasoning, stir in lemon juice and remove from heat
- Serve over a bed of cooked basmati rice with freshly ground black pepper, and garnished with cilantro and lemon juice
- For a thicker stew, blend or process tomatoes, chilli powder and ginger until smooth and add to stew
- If you find that your stew is too thick, add 1/4 cup or more water or vegetable stock
- This stew makes for great leftovers!