Spicy chickpeas – for Netta

July 30, 2009 basiale

The humble chick pea was once a staple of the diet of the Jews of Andalucia. They appeared sweetened, spiced, in stews and with poultry and beef dishes. Nowadays in Spain, it’s a rarity to see chickpeas in a Spanish restaurant, for that you have to go to the Moroccan places, but this is a quick, easy dish that can be spiced in a variety of ways.

One of my favourite ways to make this more of a main dish rather than a snack you can wolf down, is to add three ingredients that weren’t available in 12th century Spain – tomatoes, chillies and potatoes – but given that when these things did arrive in Spain with the conquistadors, it was the Jews who marked them around Europe. So feel free to add them. This recipe is just for the spiced chick peas, eat them hot, eat them cold, add a dollop of yoghurt and some pitta bread and be happy.

Drain a can or jar of chick peas well and rinse with some hot water. Leave in a colander to drain for as long as possible so that they aren’t wet when you put them in the hot pan. They can shoot you in the eye of you’re not careful!

Choose your spices: cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, chilli, powdered ginger, cardamom, all work very well. If you are going to use chilli, add a fresh one, finely chopped, if you like the heat. Add your spices, small amounts of each one, to the hot oil and shake the pan so that they disperse through the oil. When the aroma fills the kitchen, add two finely chopped cloves of garlic, half an onion and a good pinch of sea salt. Cook the garlic and onions until soft.

Add your chickpeas and stir until they are all well coated with the spices and onions. Squeeze half a lemon over them and continue to stir. All you are doing is heating the chickpeas through and making sure they are well spiced. It only takes a few minutes.

Pile onto a serving dish or a bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley or coriander leaves, whichever you prefer. Serve with yoghurt and pitta.

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