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Moroccan Chickpea Chili

Morocco sits in the northwest corner of Africa and borders the Mediterranean Sea. Like many of the countries in Northern Africa, Morocco has been heavily influenced by it’s surrounding regions and cultures, particularly the Middle East.   Throughout such cultural interations and exchanges, Morocco has come to be known as one of the great spice capitols of the world.  Consequently Moroccan cuisine is known for intense, complex flavors and the use of many spices.  Spice markets are commonplace in Morocco and said to be an unbelievable sight to behold for an outsider.  Some of the most popular spices include cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, paprika, coriander and saffron.

Moroccan Chickpea Chili has been in my chili rotation for about five years now.  I ran across the recipe in Cooking Light years ago.  I was interested to see how all of the spices that it called for would taste together.  I loved that it didn’t call for any chili powder but still promised to be a “Moroccan,” vegetarian style of chili.  We loved it the first time we made it and I have continued to make it and adapt it a little bit each time.  The flavor is rich and complex but the fresh lemon juice that you add at the end, gives it a bright, fresh flavor.  I hope you enjoy this different and healthy take on a chili!

Moroccan Chickpea Chili (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

3-4 tsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped carrot

2 cloves garlic

4 tsp ground cumin

4 tsp paprika

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground tumeric (if you don’t have it on hand, you can omit it)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

3 Tbsp tomato paste + 2 cups water OR 2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth

2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (low sodium), with juice

2 14 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp lemon juice

handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Heat oil in large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic to pot.  Saute for 5 minutes.  In small bowl, combine all spices (cumin through red pepper).  Add spice mixture to onion mixture and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Add EITHER 2 cups water plus 3 Tbsp tomato paste OR 2 cups of chicken, beef or vegetable broth (I have done both and it turns out great either way, just depends on what you have on hand — if you want it to have a more tomatoey taste, use the water and tomato paste).  Add diced tomatoes and chickpeas; bring to a boil.   Cover, reduce heat and simmer for atleast 20 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and lemon juice just prior to serving.

Adapted slightly from Cooking Light 2007