Moroccan-style chickpea stew with couscous

Moroccan-style chickpea stew with couscousThis Moroccan-style chickpea and red lentil stew with harissa, lemon and mint couscous is something I’ve made a few times before, so I thought it was about time that I recorded the recipe in some way so that my husband can make it for me every so often.

I’m not sure how genuinely Moroccan it really is, but the combination of spices is something I’ve come across in other Moroccan recipes before, so I’ll tentatively say that it’s in the style of an authentic Moroccan chickpea stew, if I may.

It’s really easy to make, especially if you get the stew started then prepare the couscous so that it ‘cooks’ in its own steam while the stew is simmering away. Then all you have to do is prepare your cheese of choice – I used feta here but I actually usually serve the stew with halloumi – and away you go!

Moroccan-style chickpea stew with couscous

Moroccan-style chickpea and red lentil stew with harissa, lemon and mint couscous

Serves 2-3

  • 1 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 0.5 pepper of your colour of choice, finely chopped (you can also throw in some fresh or frozen spinach instead of/in addition to the peppers)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 fresh chilli, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp red chilli powder
  • 0.5 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp ground turmeric
  • 200g tinned chopped or plum tomatoes
  • 50-75g red lentils
  • 400g tinned chickpeas
  • juice of half a lemon
  • chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • cubed feta or sliced and griddled halloumi (see tip below), to serve (optional but highly recommended!)

For the couscous:

  • 175g couscous
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Cook the onions and peppers until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and fresh chilli and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and spices. Simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Add the red lentils, chickpeas and enough water to cover everything. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for around 20 minutes, or until the red lentils are soft, stirring occasionally and adding more water if required.
  5. While the stew is cooking, prepare the couscous by placing it in a heatproof bowl and adding the harissa, lemon zest, mint and seasoning. You can also add a little olive oil if you like. Add enough boiling water to just about cover the couscous, then cover the bowl with a plate and leave to one side.
  6. Add the lemon juice, coriander or parsley and seasoning to the stew, and stir well. Take the stew off the heat.
  7. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and serve alongside the stew and the cheese of your choice.

Tip: to cook halloumi to perfection, simply cut it up into thick slices, heat a frying pan until very hot, then add the halloumi and fry it for 1-2 mins, or until brown underneath. Flip each slice over and cook for another 1-2 minutes until brown on the other side. That’s it! Don’t cook it in oil – this seems to take away the slightly crisp texture.

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First bake: savoury witches’ hat pasties

Witches' hatsWe had a Halloween bake sale in our office the other week, and I decided to go savoury with my offering. After much faffing, I settled upon these puff pastry pasties in the shape of witches’ hats.

I cheated and bought the puff pastry, as I didn’t have the time or confidence to make my own! I bought it in those massive blocks, though, and with hindsight I probably should have got the pre-rolled version to save more time… ah well.

I decided to make two fillings – cheese and onion, and spicy chickpea and potato, both my own inventions. For the cheese and onion filling, I gently fried some chopped onion until soft (but not browned) then mixed it with a big pile of grated mature cheddar, a little milk and seasoning.

Witches' hats

Filling for witches’ hats – cheese and onion (left) and spicy chickpea and potato (right)

The chickpea filling was a bit more complicated due to it being based on a chickpea curry recipe handed down by my mum, but basically involved cooking lightly mashed tinned chickpeas and chopped potato in a variety of spices. I held back on the chilli to begin with, but then worried that it wasn’t spicy enough and added a load more towards the end. Oops.

To fill the pasties, I painstakingly rolled out the pastry, cut it into diamond shapes, brushed them with beaten egg, added a spoonful of filling to the middle then folded the diamonds over to create triangles. I then attached a strip of pastry to the bottom edge to make them look like hats, although as you can see from the pictures, some of these managed to unattach themselves from the triangles during baking. Tsk.

Witches' hatsThe main issue I had, though, was the pasties opening up in the oven. This wasn’t a huge issue for the chickpea pasties, as the filling was quite dry, but the cheese filling melted and seeped onto the baking tray, resulting in a couple of pasties not having any filling at all! Not all of them were lost, though, which was a relief! I probably didn’t seal the edges quite as well as I should, which is certainly a lesson learnt.

Overall, the pasties turned out well and sold out remarkably quickly at the sale. If I ever make these again, I might try some different fillings, but they were delicious enough as they were!

The recipe

Based on this BBC Good Food recipe for wizards’ hats. Follow the method for the pastry and baking (double the quantities if you want to make two types of pasties), and see below for my filling recipes:

Cheese and onion

  • 100g grated mature cheddar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • butter, for frying
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and slowly cook the onions over a low heat until soft (about 15-20 mins).
  2. In a bowl, mix the onions with the cheddar, milk and seasoning.

Chickpea and potato

  • 1 x 400g tin cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 150g potato, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • Half a small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 0.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 0.5 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 0.5 tsp green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 0.5 tsp red chilli powder
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • handful of chopped coriander
  1. Lightly mash the chickpeas in a bowl with a potato masher or fork.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Fry over a medium heat until you hear the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the green chilli, garlic, ginger, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt, and cook for 3 minutes more. Stir in the chickpeas and potato, and cook until the potatoes are soft.
  4. Add the ground cumin, garam masala and coriander, stir and turn off the heat to let the filling cool.