Recipe Source: Herbivoracious via The Kitchn
I love coincidences. In general, I tend to shy away from hippy-dippy assumptions about the cosmos being on my side, or the universe having conscious thoughts about my life. But when I notice little connections – wherever they may come from, whatever they might mean – I can’t help but smile.
This recipe brought about such a smile. I found it while I was pissing away time on facebook, posted by The Kitchn. As I skimmed through it, I thought, “mmm, yes, I am making this soon!” And then I got to the ingredients list and saw preserved lemons – an exciting discovery, because I had a jar of them hanging out in my fridge at that very moment, unsure of what their destiny would be.
I’d first learned about preserved lemons a few months earlier, via my favorite little Moroccan restaurant, Kous Kous. For fun, I’d decided to make them, then do nothing with them. I was thrilled to give them a purpose with this recipe!
Despite the dauntingly long list of ingredients, this recipe came together pretty easily. And while it’s not a fast thing to make, it makes enough to feed an army! (Seriously… the recipe says it serves 4, but I got 10-12 servings out of it. I’d like to know what these 4 people look like.)
First, you start by roasting a whole cauliflower until the florets are tender and beginning to caramelize. I don’t think I left these in the oven long enough because I was afraid of them burning.
Next you’ll sautee onions and add the spices. I’m categorizing this recipe as a curry, but it doesn’t contain any curry powder. Instead, it uses a palate-awakening mixture of cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, fennel seeds, cayenne, salt, and pepper. The cinnamon and fennel seed were my favorites – so complex, so lovely!
The chickpeas and cauliflower are added next, along with the preserved lemon.
I found that the lemon flavor intensified quite a bit as my leftover stew comingled in the fridge the next few days – to the point where it became unbalanced. If you plan to eat this all right away, preserved lemons are a nice way to go. But really, I don’t think it would be bad to use fresh lemons, and it might be better.
To serve, you can pour this stew over rice, couscous, quinoa, or any other base you might use in a curry or stir-fry. A fresh cilantro garnish adds yet another layer of complexity.
Spicy Chickpea Stew with Roasted Cauliflower
Serves 10-12 as a main course over couscous (or 4 Texans)
4 cups cooked chickpeas – drained and rinsed, or soak 2 cups dry overnight and boil until tender
2 heads cauliflower
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium white onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
Anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons cayenne depending on your heat preference
1 preserved lemon, minced (or juice from 2 fresh lemons and zest from 1)
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
Flat leaf parsley or cilantro to garnish
Optional: dry harissa, zatar or other spice power to garnish
Cut the cauliflower into moderate sized florets, and cube the stalks. Toss with 1/4 c. olive oil and a little salt, and roast at 400 F (using convection if available) until quite tender and starting to caramelize.
In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over a medium high flame. Add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and cayenne and stir rapidly. When the spices are fragrant (maybe 30 seconds), add the chickpeas and some water and turn down to a simmer.
When the cauliflower is done, add it to the pot, along with the lemon.
Start with 1 T. kosher salt, and keep adding until it tastes right. Add more water if needed to achieve a stew-like consistency. Simmer awhile longer so that some of the chickpeas dissolve a little. Be sure not to let them scorch!
At the end, add the black pepper and do a final check on the salt, spices, and acid. Serve over couscous, garnished with the parsley or cilantro. Dust the plate with the dry harissa or zatar if using. Pass a yogurt based sauce (with cucumber or mint or dill) and a hot sauce (preferably wet harissa).