I am fascinated by chick peas/garbanzos/ceci, whatever you want to call them. Not because I love them so much but because they are the most unusual looking bean. They don’t really look like a bean to me, more like a little yellow brain or a scrunched up face like those dolls made with shriveled apples for heads. I’m also intrigued by them since they are one of only three legumes that are indigenous to Europe and the Mediterranean in particular.
Although I was a vegetarian for 15 years yet I didn’t progress beyond using chick peas in hummus or in green salads. But recently after exploring The Tagine Deck I realized that they would make an amazing base for a vegetarian tagine. While I didn’t end up using a specific recipe I did get a sense of what is needed to make a balanced tagine, ingredient wise.
Originally, I was going to make this with only tomato paste but I had some heirloom cherry tomatoes that needed to be used so they went into the pot. Since there were lots of savory spices in the dish – caraway, cumin, coriander and cinnamon – I knew I needed some sweetness to offset the spices. Remembering the fantastic Lamb Tagine I made a year and half ago that included three different dried fruits, I figured raisins with the cherry tomatoes would do the trick and they came through beautifully. Adding preserved lemon, a teensy dab of harissa and some minced cilantro made this dish sing!
This version is for 3-4 small portions, but next time I’ll definitely double it since not only does the tagine age well, but you’ll be so sad that it’s all gone as quickly as it is!
Chick Pea and Tomato Tagine
1 cup chick peas, soaked in water to cover by 2 inches
1/2 cup raisins
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 inch piece whole cinnamon
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 preserved lemon, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1/2 preserved lemon, minced
Soak chick peas overnight or for at least 8 hours. (The cheating way to do this is to pour boiling water over chick peas and allow to soak for at least 1 hour). In skillet or cast iron pan combine caraway, coriander and cumin seeds along with the cinnamon stick and dry roast for 2-3 minutes on high heat until the seeds begin to pop and turn color. Remove from heat and partially grind in mortar and pestle. In sauce pan heat olive oil over medium low heat and add spice mixture with garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes just until garlic begins to soften and the aroma of the spices mixes with the oil. Add raisins and tomatoes and cook 3-5 minutes until tomatoes begin to give up their juices. Add preserved lemon and chick peas with soaking water, up to 2 cups of water, and bring to boil. Cover and reduce to medium low heat and cook for 1 hour until liquid is greatly reduced and chick peas are tender but not mushy. Serve with harissa, preserved lemon and cilantro.