It’s time to study Africa during our World Geography class. I’ve been having a blast researching and teaching the class, and this week we’re in Africa. I decided to try and cook something for class tomorrow and this is what I came up with after research on the Internet. Of course, I’ve been making something like this for years, but I’m trying to be authentic and use the spices and ingredients that are most prevalent in Africa. Of course, Africa is a huge place and there are many cultures and dishes. It’s not easy trying to find something to represent a continent-sort of like trying to find a food to represent Asia. Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian….you get the point.
But I decided to go with the Moroccan Chickpea Stew I found, and believe it or not I’m trying to make injera, which is the answer to bread using teff flour (which happens to be gluten free, but we’ll get into that later.) I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow (it has to ferment overnight). First-the stew.
Rather than cook slowly most of the day on the stove, I opted for the crockpot, although I know that is probably not an ancient cooking process for Morrocans. But let’s assume it is now, OK? Ingredients are all optional, add or replace anything you are not fond of. It tastes great and I’m not sure I can wait until tomorrow to eat it. I hope the kids like it…
Moroccan Chickpea Stew
3 cans chickpeas
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 medium potato, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chopped garlic
1. Saute onion for a few minutes with a little olive oil to soften.
2. Pour all ingredients into the crockpot and cook on high for 5 hours (6-8 on medium).
3. Test for doneness of the potatoes and then make sure you don’t need more salt. Done.
4. Since peanuts are popular and often-used, I’ve garnished mine with a few warm peanuts.
It’s that simple. The crunchiness of the garbanzos gives it so much depth, yet the sweetness of the yams is just heavenly. Go easy on the spices until you know for sure how much you like (and since I’m making this for the class, I want to be sure not to blow away the kids with too much spice.) I prefer to let the vegetables take over, rather than the spices anyway. I love the tartness of the tomatoes and the firmness of the white potatoes (which were not in the original recipe, but I had one around).
I don’t drain the beans and that, along with the tomatoes, should be enough liquid. You should have enough to cover all ingredients, but if you don’t-use a little veggie broth or water.
I’m making the injera tomorrow and that is typically used to scoop up the stew and soak in the food, instead of using a spoon. That’s why you want the stew to be thick, not soupy. But if you like yours soupy, by all means add more broth. The best part of all this is that the entire stew is gluten free. And much of the food that I found for this lesson was gluten free. Wheat is not common on the continent, as far as I can see (we’ll talk about htat tomorrow). And luckily, there are many vegetarian dishes to make.
Variations-add chopped kale, spinach or chard for color and texture. I’ve also heard that okra is a common veggie used so give that a try if you can find it. You can also add some cayenne pepper to give it a little kick, or add more of the spices to make it stronger. It’s all up to you, Dear Chef.