Monday, April 27, 2015

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine

Moroccan tagines are savory stews made with key spices and vegetables. Here, chickpeas are simmered in a light tomato sauce. This dish is exotic and special. Paprika infuses the stew with a mild smokiness and a Moroccan spice blend lends uniquely North African flavors.

Comforting and hearty, this tagine forms a complete protein when served with rice. It’s good on a chilly evening. It’s delicious finished with a dollop of sour cream or thick Greek yogurt. Serve over couscous, quinoa or rice. A side of pita bread, olives and feta is never a bad idea either. The stew reheats well for workday lunches. 

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine Recipe

Makes A Large Pot Full

Some Notes:

There might seem like a lot of ingredients, but the stew is a one pot dish. If you can make vegetarian chili, you can make a Moroccan tagine. 

The idea here is not to get caught up in searching for different spices, unless you feel like it. Otherwise, use what you can easily find. Think of me as your gentle spice guide. I’m here to suggest things. No pressure.

Paprika and cumin are the only spices essential to this recipe, the rest of the spices are optional but ohhh sooo good. A Moroccan spice known as ras el hanout is unquestionably North African. It’s actually a blend of over a dozen spices. Zamouri Spices had a good one. 

Saffron is also optional. Not everyone likes saffron. If you use it, add just a few strands, maybe 4 tops. It’s very easy to overpower a dish with too much saffron. 

I learned to add a  pinch of grated nutmeg to my African stews from my Ghanaian friend who just happens to be a wonderful cook. You don’t detect that it’s nutmeg, you just know that the stew tastes savory and flavorful. I include turmeric for its health benefits and pretty color.

I use Pomi Tomatoes in this recipe. The company sent me some samples and I was impressed by their taste and texture. 
Garbanzo Bean Flour is a wonderful thickener for soups and stews. I highly recommend it here. Mix the flour with equal parts cold water to thicken this tagine. Viola! Instant thickener, which is never a bad thing in vegetarian stews. They often need more body, richness and voluptuousness. 


  • 2 16-ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
  • 1 26.46-ounce box of Pomi Chopped Tomatoes or almost all of a 28- ounce can of canned chopped tomatoes. 
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced. You pick the color. I used green.
  • 1 small chili pepper, seeded and diced or a pinch of ground red pepper (optional)
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced 
  • 2 dried bay leaves, torn, remember to remove them before serving.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked or regular paprika 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric (optional)
  • A drizzle or two of honey or a few pinches of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes
  • A few saffron threads (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Moroccan ras el hannout spice, optional
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • To Thicken: garbanzo bean flour 
  • To Serve: Greek yogurt, sour cream, chopped flat leaf parsley, slivered almonds, lemon wedges, pita bread, couscous, rice, quinoa


Meanwhile, add some olive oil to a large nonstick skillet or pot and saute the onions, bell pepper and chili pepper (if using) with some salt on medium to medium high heat until soft.
When the vegetables are soft, add the bay leaves, spices, rinsed and drained chickpeas tomatoes, minced garlic, honey and the saffron threads (if using). Adjust the salt and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to very low and simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes or until the flavors meld and mellow. Remove the bay leaves. 
To thicken the stew: Start with one tablespoon of garbanzo bean flour mixed with one tablespoon of cold water. If you’d like it thicker, add more of this mixture. Mash some of the garbanzo beans with the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust salt. Serve with any of the above suggestions.
Bon Appetit!

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