Creamy chickpea and spinach curry

Autumn is slowly creeping up on us- leafs are starting to change colour and there is a bite in the air.  It is the perfect time to harvest the last of my spinach, pinch back the coriander and dig out the curry recipes.  This is a fragrant, wholesome vegetarian curry with chickpeas as the star of the dish.  Of course it is also a highly adaptable recipe and can be made more or less spicy to taste. You can also skip the yoghurt and still have a very delicious result.

I use double greek yoghurt instead of coconut milk-it contributes towards the same creamy taste but cost much less and is more versatile.  I still add desiccated coconut for that authentic indian curry taste.

This recipe gives four to six large portions. I served it with rice but it will go just as well with rootis or cous cous.

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for at least 6-8 hours

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

1-2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon turmeric

3-5 pods cardamom, skins removed

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoon fresh, chopped coriander

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1/4 desiccated coconut

1/2 cup double greek yoghurt (bulgarian or unsweetened plain yoghurt should also work)

small bunch spinach, finely chopped

1 can whole, peeled tomatoes


Heat the olive oil and butter in a large casserole or pot.  Add the onion, garlic and chilli and sauté for 5-8 minutes. Add the cardamom, cumin, turmeric and allspice and sauté for another minute or 2. Add the chickpeas, tomato, yoghurt and coconut.  Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for approximately for 45-60 minutes or until the chickpeas are cooked.  Add the cilantro (coriander) and parsley as well as salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Simmer for another 15 minutes.  It can be served as is, or with rice or cous cous.


Cumin chickpeas and aubergine with cous cous

Another chickpea recipe!  In a previous post, I mentioned how versatile chickpeas are. And how very underrated!  Chickpeas, like aubergine (eggplant) tend to soak up the tastes around them, and as I couldn’t quite decide what I felt like for dinner, this is what I came up with.  I started off with typical Moroccan flavours for the chickpeas, which meant frying them in olive oil with cumin, chilli and coriander, when I discovered one lost aubergine in the fridge.  I added the aubergine, then balanced the flavours with canned cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and parsley. The result?  A fresh, well-balanced, satisfying meal with a hint of chilli!

This recipe gives 4 portions:

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for 6-8 hours, rinsed and cooked for another hour.

1 medium aubergine, cut into cubes (no need to salt beforehand if the aubergine is fresh and firm), skin on

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2-3 chillies (depending on taste)

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or very finely chopped

5-6 leafs fresh basil, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped coriander

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1 can cherry tomatoes

cous cous, made according to manufacturer’s instructions

Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan over moderate heat.  Sauté the chopped onion, garlic and chilli for 5 minutes, before adding the chickpeas. Fry for another 5 minutes, add the aubergine cubes, and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato, place a lid on the pan and allow to reduce for approximately 20 minutes or until most of the fluid has evaporated. Add the basil and parsley, as well as salt and course black pepper to taste and set aside. Prepare the cous cous in a separate pot according to the instructions on the box.  Serve the cumin chickpeas and aubergine hot on a bed of cous cous and garnish with fresh parsley. Dinner in 30 minutes!

Spicy chickpea and wilted spinach salad

It is summer in South Africa!  The mercury is hitting lower 30 degrees Celsius and salads are the order of the day.

I do not cook only for myself (I would very happily only munch on lettuce if I had a choice!), but I can imagine that my boyfriend will complain if I had to feed him only so-called “rabbit food”. Hence, when I make salad for dinner I “beef” it up by adding some low-GI carbs and proteins. I would thus like to introduce you to chickpeas.  Chickpeas are very under-rated but can form the staple of an incredible amount of dishes (think falafel, humus and tagine). They can be spiced, cooked, mashed or bought in a tin, ready to serve.  Many recipes ask for the tinned version.  It is quick and easy as the chickpeas are already prepared and can be served, heated or used as required with as little effort as opening a can. I, of course, like to take the hard route.  It is much cheaper to buy dry chickpeas but they require work (or careful planning!). Also, you can prepare only as much as you require whereas an opened can is an opened can.  Another disadvantage of canned chickpeas are their soft consistency- it turns into humus when trying to blend them in order to make falafel (read failed dinner but interesting experiment).

To prepare dried chickpeas you need to soak them overnight.  Being an impatient cook, I usually only soak my chickpeas on the day that I use them, and have realised that 6-8 hours is enough. Pop them in a container with water before going to work-they’ll be ready when you get home. They do still need to cook which takes another hour. Chickpeas have a low glycemic index (G.I) and is high in protein, so it is definitely worth going through the effort to prepare them.

This recipe serves 2 large or 4 small portions

1 cup dried chickpeas, covered in water and allowed to soak until double their original size (6-8 hours).

Rinse chickpeas and place them in a pot on the stove over moderate heat. Again cover with water, cover the pot with a lid and bring to boil. Cook chickpeas for an hour or until soft and ready. Remove from heat.

Spicy chickpeas and wilted spinach:

1 cup dried chickpeas, cooked and prepared as mentioned above

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2-3 fresh chillis, finely chopped

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

100 grams fresh, chopped spinach

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pan over moderate heat. Add the onion and brown for 5 minutes. Add the cumin and chilli and fry for another 3-4 minutes.  Now add the chickpeas and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the spinach, stir well and fry for another 5-8 minutes until the spinach has wilted and is mixed through.  Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Salad assembly:

Previously prepared chickpeas and spinach, cooled

2-3 cups fresh, chopped lettuce of your choice (I use mixed lettuce as well as Iceberg)

1 tomato, sliced in wedges

1/2 green pepper, sliced

3 chives, finely chopped

1/2 wheel feta

10-12 olives

Assemble you salad according to your liking. I first add my lettuce and then layer my salad with the tomato, peppers and olive. I end with the chickpeas, and lastly crumble my feta over.  This is really a scrumptios low G.I, high protein salad that is satisfying for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.