Sometimes I’ll order something at a restaurant and think: that’s a great idea, but I bet I could easily make this better. Call it culinary arrogance, but I like to think I did just that. The origin of inspiration will remain nameless, suffice it to say I won’t be ordering it again now that I’ve discovered how to make it at home, better. Brush brush.
I honestly don’t want to give the impression that I’m really down with the whole tagine thing, but regardless, this was incredibly good. Tangy and rich, spiced but not spicy (although you could easily change that), with a host of unexpected flavours that somehow work fantastically together. Also, the chickpeas and vegetables created a really lovely balance of textures – soft and smooth plus slightly crunchy. It was so fantastic that my celery, all-things-resembling-soup, tomato hating boyfriend actually enjoyed this meal. Served alongside some bread, this became a meal to remember. I do apologise for taking so long to unleash it upon the world. Uni isn’t all about baking and cooking, sadly.
Chickpea and vegetable tagine
makes enough for two for dinner with bread
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/3c oil or equivalent melted butter
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 c (approx) cauliflower florets, the size of walnuts*
1 carrot, diced*
2 stalks celery, sliced across the strings, 1cm thick
2 apricots (fresh or dried) finely chopped
1/4 lemon, sliced, or 1/2 preserved lemon
1 can (400g) crushed/chopped tomatoes
1/2c – 1c water depending on how thick you want it
1 can (320g) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (Delmaine cook them to perfection)
1/2c olive brine (optional)
1/2 tsp salt (1 tsp if not using olive brine)
handful chopped flat parsley
In a small bowl, prepare approximate amounts:
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground garam masala
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp chilli powder or cayenne
1/2 tsp paprika
*Other vegetables that you could probably use are courgettes/zucchini, eggplant/aubergines, or potato cubes.
Heat oil on medium high heat, and add cumin seeds, onion, cauliflower, and carrots. Cook until the onions start going golden at the edges. Add celery, garlic, lemon and apricots, continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the onions start going golden throughout. Add the rest of the ingredients (except parsley and the spices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer ten minutes uncovered. Mix in spices, and more water if you want it less thick. Add parsley, let simmer a further five minutes, taste, and adjust salt levels if required. Serve alongside fresh bread.