Let’s go to Morocco!

Blog post by Radha

Hey there, I’m a new contributor and I’m going to walk you through my rendition of the Moroccan Chickpeas with Chard recipe from the New York Times:


The recipe link has a nice little video and with over 650 people voting, it’s been rated 5 stars.  I made about an army’s worth last night and after tasting it I’m pretty sure I’m going to eat it all in a week.  It’s that good.

So about a day before, get some dried chickpeas and soak them in water.  I used about 2.5 cups dried, and I put them in a bowl with water coming up about an inch over the surface.  I checked on them after a day and added more water.  Then 12 hours later I got nervous about bacteria and decided to stick my still-soaking chickpeas in the fridge.  So, I actually soaked my peas for 2 days.

In the meanwhile, I had to shop for ingredients.  I thought in comparison to the recipe maybe I’d used half a pound of chickpeas, so I dialed down on some of the ingredients.  Specifically, I used just 1 onion and a medium sized turnip.  But I then I just realized I left some things the same, skimped on paprika because I ran out, added extra of other things because I generally don’t measure when I cook and I wanted to finish out what was in my fridge.  So, here’s my ingredient list:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, mostly seeded and chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, roughly minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2.5 tsp salt, plus 1 tsp added at the end to taste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • .5 tsp paprika (just because I ran out, and I don’t know if mine was sweet or not but it didn’t say sweet on the label)
  • .75 tsp ground cinnamon
  • .5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 fennel bulb (didn’t save the fronds)
  • 1 large bunch of rainbow swiss chard, stems cut in half inch pieces with scissors, leaves torn into bite size pieces
  • 3 medium-sized carrots, peeled & diced
  • 1 medium-sized turnip, peeled & diced
  • 2.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in water to cover for 2 days
  • .5 cup dried turkish unsweetened apricots, diced
  • 2 tbsp preserved lemon, diced – recipe below
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • cilantro for garnish

I couldn’t find preserved lemon in my Whole Foods, so I made a quick version.  I bought 1 lemon, washed it well, chopped it up and took out the seeds.  I put it in a small pot with .5 cup of water, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar.  Then I boiled it for about 25 min, until half the water was gone and the lemon rinds were soft.

0621162008  That’s the preserved lemon – salty, but tart & tasty!

I let the lemons cool in a bowl as I chopped up everything else, which took QUITE a while.

0621162047.jpg Whew!  Chopper sidekicks recommended.

I used the biggest pot I could find, put in the oil and heated it on high for a minute, added onion & jalapeno then stirred 3 min, added the garlic and ginger and stir 1 min, added all the spices and stirred 2 more min.  Then added in the tomato paste and turned down the heat just a little and stirred a minute.  Next: the chard stems, carrots, fennel and turnip and stirred that about 8 min.  It felt soft enough to me, so I tossed in my chickpeas along with the water that they had soaked in, added another 2 cups of water and turned up the heat to high again.

0621162103    Once there was a boil going, I put the heat back down to medium-low and covered the pot with a lid.  I guess since I had soaked my peas so long, they cooked somewhat fast.  So after 30 min they tasted done. But I wanted the flavor to develop more and the water to cook away.  So I put the heat on medium-high and uncovered the pot and let it bubble another 25 min.  I tasted it again and figured everything was cooked to my liking.  So then I added the apricot, preserved lemon and chard leaves.  I felt like I wanted a bit more sweetness, so I decided to add honey.  And I think I overdid my cayenne pinch, so I added a tsp of salt to balance that out.  Let the stew cook another 5 min then I was done!

0621162230   My massive meal took about 2 hours total for prep & cooking, if you don’t count the 2 days of pea-soaking.  I was able to watch half of the US loss the Argentina in the Copa America semi-final during the main cooking time, but I imagine others might spend that time making and fluffing up some couscous.

Here’s the finished product, dressed with a bit of cilantro:

0622161453  So good!

Enjoy rocking the casbah with this dish!


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