Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chickpea Tagine

Seems that everyone's interested in eating a little lower on the food chain these days. Maybe it's the price of groceries that's gotten people's attention. Or maybe it's the burgeoning awareness of the carbon footprint we leave by our food choices. (Read this article in the New York Times for why Italian wine makers are now putting their wine in boxes!) Or maybe it's finally sinking in that a diet high in red meat is a diet which has serious health consequences. But whatever the reasons may be, people seem to be eating more vegetarian meals these days. If you don't believe me, check out Terry B's post at Blue Kitchen. Even the staunchest of omnivores has decided that a vegetarian meal now and then is probably a good idea!

But let's face it: If it doesn't taste good, why bother? I don't care how healthy a meal might be, if it chews like rubber and tastes like a tree root, I'd rather die young and happy. Fortunately, we don't have to make those choices. For two years running, I've taken trips to India, and have found many terrific dishes which are strictly vegetarian. There are even many dishes there which are vegan, and I've left the table feeling completely satisfied. Well.....minus the dark chocolate, of course. But that's another story....

This last trip to India ended with a dinner in Delhi, at the home of Tapas Baneerji, his wife Krishna and their son Arjuna. Tapas was the man who put together our trip to India last year, and the part of our trip this year which included Kashmir. The man who took us to Tapas' house also ate dinner with us, and when we all sat down for the meal, Krishna asked him if it was a day where he would be eating meat. Yes, in fact it was. I asked him about that and he told us that one day a week he eats vegan and the rest of the time he eats whatever he wants. I thought about that one. It seemed like a gentle approach to lightening up. It didn't require him to give up too much too often. After all, it was only one day a week!

So I've decided to incorporate that idea into my own lifestyle. I had already made the decision to eat a vegetarian meal each week - or perhaps even two. This was just a simple step further. But I knew that I didn't want every vegetarian or vegan meal to be inspired by the cuisine of any one country. I know myself well enough to know that boredom would set in too quickly. And then, as if the universe heard me, I received a copy of the Vegetarian Times in my clinic. This was the October edition, and it contained several recipes based on Morrocan cuisine minus the meat. I saw a couple of recipes for tagines and I was in! Besides, these were recipes which could be made in 30 minutes, more or less - perfect for a weeknight.

This first one I tried had me hooked. It plays the sweet of honey against the spice of cayenne pepper, and I've always loved that combination of flavors. Try it and enjoy! If you want to make this a vegan meal, you can skip the yogurt. I've eaten it without and trust me - you won't miss it.


2 TBS olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 TBS)
2 14.5oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1/4C dried currants
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2tsp hone
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
3 TBS finely chopped parsley


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garllic and saute 2-3 minutes, or until onion slices are soft. Stir in chickpeas, carrots, currants, spices, honey and 2 C water. Coer and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Divide tagine among 4 bowls. Garnish each serving with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle with parsley.
The good news? This dish is listed as having (per serving) 414 calories, 14gm protein, 12.5 gm of total fat (3.5 saturated - if you add the yogurt), 65 gm carbs, 5 mg cholesterol (again - only if you add the yogurt), 601 mg sodium, 12 gm. fiber!, and 13 gm sugars.

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Susan said...

Crazy beautiful! I've got a weakness for chickpeas AND tagines.

Toni said...

Susan - You and me both, sistah!

anya said...

Probably this one-day-a-week concept is about self-observation rather than deprivation. I like to interprete it this way. :)

And you know, I'm going to cook this chickpea tagine for my next meal!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I've been looking for a good chickpea tagine recipe; the one I've used has tomatoes, and I'm not crazy about the flavor. Will definitely try this one.

Unknown said...

Anya - It's definitely not about deprivation! Besides, when you can eat meals this good, who cares if there's meat?

Lydia - I think you're going to love this one!

Anonymous said...

I could get all wordy here, and talk about how I don't eat chickpeas that often, because to me they just don't appear that appetizing till now.. But all I really need to say is YUM.

Unknown said...

Matt - Coming from you, I take that as the highest compliment - Thanks!

Cynthia said...

You had me at chick :) I LOVE chickpeas.

Rachael Narins said...

You know my heart swells just a little bit (in a good way!) when you talk veggie-love! :-)

L'Shana Tova!

Toni said...

Cynthia - I share the love!

Rachael - Well, I'm moving more and more in that direction. I've always loved veggies, but it's only been since the last trip that I've added vegan to my diet.

Anonymous said...

I will definitely try this one -- question, though, what makes a dish a Tagine?

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Toni said...

Laura - Tagines are dishes from northern Africa, and they are named after the special pot in which they are traditionally cooked. You don't have to have one of those pots to cook the dish, but they are quite beautiful.

Glad you liked the recipe!