Middle Eastern Chickpea Stew

From the book Try It! Slow Cooking
Middle Eastern Chickpea Stew

This is a vegetarian dish full of taste and texture with its fleshy aubergine and nutty chickpeas. It is an ideal dish to prepare a day ahead as the flavours become even better with time.

For how many? Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large aubergine, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 150ml white wine
  • 2 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp harissa paste, depending on how spicy you like it
  • 60g dried cherries or cranberries, or use fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 2 preserved lemons, quartered, flesh removed and discarded (optional)
  • 600ml hot vegetable stock for the slow cooker (800ml for the traditional method)
  • bunch of coriander leaves, chopped

Instructions

Slow cooker method:

Preheat the slow cooker, if required. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan or tagine over a medium heat, add the onion, and cook for 3–4 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper, stir through the spices, garlic, and aubergine, and cook for 5–8 minutes, stirring, so it is all coated and the aubergine starts to turn golden brown.

Transfer everything to the slow cooker, then add the wine to the pan and stir to deglaze the residual pan juices before also transferring to the slow cooker. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, harissa paste, cherries, preserved lemons (if using), and the stock. Season and stir, then cover with the lid, and cook on auto/low for 6–8 hours or on high for 3–4 hours.

Taste and season if needed, or stir through more harissa paste if you like it hot. Stir through most of the coriander and ladle into warmed shallow bowls, then sprinkle with the remaining coriander. Serve with warm flatbread and a spoonful of plain yogurt on the side.

Traditional method:

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan or tagine over a medium heat, add the onion, and cook for 3–4 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper, stir through the spices, garlic, and aubergine, and cook for 5–8 minutes, stirring, so it is all coated and the aubergine starts to turn golden brown.

Add the wine and let it bubble for a minute, then add the chickpeas, tomatoes, harissa paste, cherries, and preserved lemons, if using. Stir well and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially cover with the lid, and cook gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Taste and season if needed, or stir through more harissa paste if you like it hot. Stir through most of the coriander and ladle into warmed shallow bowls, then sprinkle with the remaining coriander. Serve with warm flatbread and a spoonful of plain yogurt on the side.

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