Yum scrum! Spiced chickpeas with spinach. The humble chickpea, small and nutty, packed full of protein and fibre. So tasty and cheap, I bow before thee. I first had chickpeas in a youth hostel in Rome many years ago, at the tender age of 19. A fellow youthful traveller was eating them out of a tin that he had hacked open with a swiss army knife, I was curious and had to try. I’ve never looked back.

I love chickpeas, whether they are in dips, stews or curries. In salads with cheeses, herbs and tomatoes. I like them baked as a snack or spiced in a pitta. Like all pulses, it is worth making the effort soaking dried ones over night and cooking them until tender, if reasonably fresh, usually for an hour or so. There’s no comparison for me between dried and tinned – the texture of those cooked from dried is so much better, firm to the bite, rich in flavour and not waterlogged like tinned.

Earlier this week, I soaked and cooked off a big bag of dried chickpeas, and, for that evening, spiced about 2 tins worth with spinach and froze the rest. It’s a quick dish with tasty results. This will serve 4 and is good served stuffed in toasted pitta bread.

Ingredients:

2 tins of chickpeas, drained, or the equivalent in dried (soaked and cooked about 600g)
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
1 in root ginger, peeled and grated
1 stick celery, finely sliced
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
Juice of half a lemon
A couple of handfuls of fresh spinach
A handful of chopped fresh coriander
Some light oil for frying, I used groundnut

Method:

Toast the coriander and cumin in a frying pan (with no oil) until they start to pop, usually no more than 30 seconds.

Grind the toasted spices in a pestle and mortar. Combine with the turmeric, chilli and garam masala.

Fry the onion and celery in some oil until the onion is translucent, add the spices, ginger, and garlic and fry for a minute or so. Add the tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the chickpeas and coat in the spices. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Take off the heat and stir in the coriander; squeeze in the lemon.

Serve. Highly recommended with toasted pitta breads and some yoghurt.

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Niamh

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