Moroccan Spiced Chickpeas

“Ici on ne grossit pas. La maison vous garantie juste de jolies formes”         
               “Here we don’t get fat. La maison guarantees you just nice curves”

It pretty much goes without saying but if I have not mentioned it before, France is simply amazing for food enthusiasts, self-proclaimed foodies, and people who just enjoy a good meal. Even after all these years of gastronomic celebrity and having touted some of the finest chefs in the world, France is still at the top of their game and the use of fresh and high quality ingredients is still of utmost importance. Usually when I try to translate the term ‘foodie’ in French I get a lot of looks of misunderstanding. People just can’t fathom that in English we have actually created a word for a group of people who really appreciate good food. That is of course because it seems everyone in France not only appreciates but adores good food and long meals. Very long meals. The word ‘gourmand’ however is often used for those who also love food, but is often employed in terms of quantity and when too much of something is consumed.

If your eating out, it is never very difficult to find a good quality restaurant and have three courses at lunchtime for less than 15 euros and dinner for 20. One of my absolute favorite places to eat is the market. In just about every town and big city there is a main city farmer’s market with all the fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, cheeses, honey and local specialties. These markets are bustling with life and often a weekly family routine in France. Each time we go to the morning market, groups of elderly couples are huddled around tables outside enjoying a glass of sweet wine together and chatting. It is absolutely beautiful. What is even more wonderful is each market has its own lunchtime restaurants. They use fresh produce and ingredients from the market, the prices are usually quite low and they are known for their lively atmosphere.

winter wine tasting in the city

One of my absolute favorite outdoor markets is in the small city of Millau located in the southern region of France. If you have the chance to go to Millau on a Friday you will find the entire center of the city sprinkled with stands of local produce and friends and family crowded together buying their weekly groceries, eating, drinking, and of course socializing. Millau has an extremely large market for the size of the city which is one of the reasons I love it and you will probably bump into at least 10 people you know in about 1 hour. They also have one of my absolute favorite restaurants ever. It is a humble little place with amazing food!!! Almost every dish is served with a side of cooked Moroccan style chick peas and are to die for.  (If you are able to make it there, I strongly recommend the homemade ‘soupe à l’oignon.’ This is like no other french onion soup you’ve had before, and the ‘seiche’ cooked with fresh herbs, garlic and lemon and homemade fries.) You will smell of garlic for the rest of the day but it is oh-so worth it!

This recipe is great for those who appreciate a little warm spice but is mild enough to be paired with many other foods.  The chick peas are consistent enough that it can be eaten as a meal itself or can be used as a flavorful side dish and a nice change from the traditional side dishes. Chickpeas are also a fantastic source of protein and fiber. Fiber is very important to maintain healthy digestion, decreases the negative LDL cholesterol, and helps regulate our blood-sugar levels.

Moroccan Chickpeas

Moroccan Chickpeas

Recipe:
THE BASE
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas (soak overnight or 8 hours ahead of preparation)
  • 1 small onion
  • clove of garlic
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
SPICES
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander
Directions: Personal note: I prefer to work with dried chickpeas because (a) they are cheaper  (b) they create less waste (c) they contain less sodium. That said, canned chick peas are a great alternative and handy for last-minute preparations. 
Start by chopping onion and cooking on medium with oil in a deep pan or in a pot for 10-15 minutes (until onions are translucent). Then add your garlic and chopped tomatoes. When tomatoes are reduced almost to a sauce, add in your chickpeas, broth and spices. Cover and let cook for 30 minutes.  When finished, sea-salt to taste and sprinkle with extra fresh coriander.  Serve with slices of fresh lemon.
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