Monday, January 9, 2012

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Back in December, my friend and I took a trip to Whistler to commemorate the end of our first term of nursing school. Thanks to an amazing deal I found using a coupon website,, we were able stay in a wonderful resort with an outdoor pool and hot tub and complimentary DVD rentals. I had a great time skiing with my friend during the day and then walking around the village in the evening.

On our last day we had already checked out of the resort and walked around while waiting for our bus back to Vancouver. For lunch, we stopped by a small cafe at the base of the mountains and each ordered a soup and sandwich. I particularly enjoyed the Moroccan lentil soup that I ordered and decided to recreate it once I got home. Due to other things going on, I wasn't able to make the soup until this past weekend, but I definitely think the results were worth the wait.

Originally I had researched recipes for Moroccan soups and came across one from Emril Lagasse for Harira, a traditional Moroccan chickpea stew with chicken and lentils. I read through both the recipe and the reviews and decided to give it a try, but in my own way. I decided to omit the chicken and rice called for in the original recipe because I felt it would make the stew to heavy and I wanted something vegetarian. I also added a few more vegetables of my own choosing to the stew and used canned chickpeas instead of dried in order to speed up the cooking time. Basically, the recipe provided a good base and showed me which spices to use, but the rest I took creative liberties with.

In the end, I was quite pleased with how the stew turned out. It definitely had a Moroccan/Lebanese taste to it which I figured out comes from the turmeric. I had always found this taste so appealing in Mediterranean cuisine but I never knew its source; now, though, I think I will try to use it in more of my dishes. My mother also recognized the scent and taste when she tried the stew and she said that she enjoyed it as well. Overall the stew was a success; I made something yummy and I discovered a new spice to play around with.

Moroccan Chickpea Stew
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 19 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups (2 L) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup (about 1/2 bunch) cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  1. In a large pot, saute the onion 3-4 minutes over medium heat until the onion starts to become translucent. 
  2. Add the chopped celery and carrots and saute for another 5-7 minutes, or until they become soft.
  3. Stir in the ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon to the vegetables and continue to cook for another minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes and their juices, as well as the chili flakes if using, and mix well to incorporate everything.
  5. Add the lentils and chicken stock and mix to incorporate. Bring the stew to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  6. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. At this point, mix in the chickpeas and test the lentils for softness. If still crunchy, replace the lid and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, or until they soften.
  7. Once the lentils are cooked, add the lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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