My friend A often sends me recipes she thinks I should try, usually accompanied by annotations and suggestions.
Last week she emailed me this fascinating recipe for strawberry crisp that uses rosewater and dried lemons, she said it’s ‘very Ottolenghi’ (read Middle Eastern inspired) and that I should perhaps add a teaspoon of pomegranate molasses to kick it up a notch.
I tried the crisp on Monday, sans dried lemons because I didn’t have any, the pomegranate molasses gave it just the right punch. I can’t wait to perfect the recipe and share it on here.
A is also a giver of unique food items, last year when her father (he of the Cologne story) returned from a trip back home and handed her several bottles of curry and brutzel ketchup, she turned them over to me, and I must say those crazy German ketchups are now my new favourite thing!
A few months ago she gave me a small jar of tamarind paste with a note that said ‘Explore!’
I took that as a challenge, of course, I hadn’t had tamarind in decades, so the jar sat in my fridge for a while.
Then I discovered Essiespice, an exceptional collection of spice blends with cheerful names like Coco-For-Garlic and TamarindOh.
These spices have been wonderful in everything I’ve tried. They transform ordinary everyday meals into sensational dishes. I’m so enamoured with them, I’m hoping I can share them with one lucky winner in a giveaway soon.
I was still experimenting with the Tamarind sauce when A’s recipe for a tamarind chickpea curry hit my inbox, ‘maybe replace the curry with harissa to make it, you know… ‘more Ottolenghi’ her note said.
I knew one of her recipes was going to become a mainstay in my kitchen soon – and this spiced chickpeas with harissa and tamarind could very well be it.
These chickpeas are a heady melody of savoury and subtle tartness. It reminds me of the rich stews my mom used to make; satisfying and full of flavourful and aromatic spices; spooned over plain rice, it was the ultimate comfort food.
The tangy, sweetly sour tamarind, nutty chickpeas and spicy harissa meld well together and it’s even better after a day or two. Naturally, I make a big batch, preferably for Sunday supper and have plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week. It’s wonderful for quick weeknight meals, I love it over quinoa and peas, or rice or with some pita bread.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 4 teaspoons harissa paste
- 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, optional
- 2 - 3 teaspoons tamarind paste (or 1 tablespoon Tamarind Oh)
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-oz canned chickpeas, drained)
- 1/4 cup water
- Salt to taste
- Heat olive oil in a skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat
- Add mustard seeds when oil is hot, stir and cook for about a minute until seeds start popping
- Add cumin, onions and tomato paste and cook for a minute or two until onions start to soften
- Add garlic, harissa paste and cook for another minute or so
- Stir in tamarind, and paprika, Aleppo pepper and chickpeas and water, mix well to coat
- Lower heat and cook for 3 – 5 minutes or until chickpeas are warmed through
- Season with salt to taste
- Add 1/2 cup water or more if you prefer more saucy stew-like chickpeas