Wowwie! This is so wonderfully flavorful and warm and cozy and I might or might not have finished 3/4 of the whole batch in one go.
I’m a huge fan of chickpeas in almost any form – curries, hummus, spiced and dried, in desserts (yes, desserts! google chickpea desserts and don’t knock it before you try it) – so it was inevitable that I would love this stew specially since it involves lots of olive oil, spices and spinach (my favorite vegetable by far – it’s so versatile!).
It can take a while to cook if you soak and boil your own chickpeas, which we always do at home, but if you use canned chickpeas this is a super quick dish to whip up for lunch.
The recipe is technically for four people but since last time I made half the batch for my mom and I, there wasn’t enough left for my mom (oops!), I will definitely be making a bigger batch next time. And even if there’s some leftover, you can keep it in the fridge and it’ll make a great leftover lunch or dinner the next day.
I served it with brown rice but you can serve it with any grain – millet, quinoa, basmati rice etc. or even with some crusty bread like sourdough or a baguette.
Forgot to mention – the stew itself is accidentally vegan and gluten free! (I love it when that happens hehee..)
It was based on this recipe I found on food&wine but I changed it up quite a bit 🙂
Spiced Chickpea & Spinach Stew
1.5 tablespoon crushed garlic
Pinch of saffron
2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin powder, pinch ground cloves, pinch black pepper, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1-2 tsp chili powder (adjust chili according to personal preference), 1/2 tsp salt
~3 cups cooked chickpeas or two 15oz cans (reserve the water!)
2.5 tbs olive oil
2 onions, peeled and diced
1 large tomato or two small, diced and the seeds removed
salt, to taste
handful sultanas/dates/raisins (I recommend sultanas)
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped finely
juice of 1/2 lemon
fresh coriander/mint/parsley to top (optional)
In a small bowl, mash the crushed garlic with the saffron and the spices. Add a couple tablespoons of the chickpea liquid.
In a skillet or a deep pan, heat 1.5 tbs olive oil.
Add the onion and tomatoes and stir on low heat until softened and browned.
Add the spiced garlic paste and cook for another minute
Pour in the chickpeas, 1.5 cups of their liquid (if there is no more liquid, use water or stock) and the sultanas
Bring to a simmer and add in the spinach. Lower the heat a bit, and let simmer for around 2 minutes until spinach is fully cooked.
Transfer to your serving dish and top with 1 tbs of the olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs.
Serve with rice, quinoa, cous cous, millet or crusty bread.
The saying about only appreciating things when you don’t have them – so true.
When we moved to India, one of the biggest problems for me was getting used to the fact that lots of the fresh products I was used to getting in Singapore were just not available widely here. I mean, you can still get things like raspberries, blueberries, avocados and asparagus but you have to go to specialty ‘gourmet’ stores and they’re extremely overpriced. Things I had taken for granted like basil, I now relished.
But now that we’ve moved into our own house we have lots of fresh produce growing in our own garden! We have spinach, methi (fenugreek), basil, mini oranges… So you would think that now I have an almost endless supply of fresh basil I would be using it 24/7. Right?
But yeah… not so much. Since we’ve moved into the house (5 months) I think I’ve used basil approximately… 3 times. And in that time we have probably gone through 10-12 jars of store bought pesto. I know, I know. Disgraceful.
It’s just that the whole process seems like so much work. It’s easier to just buy a ready made jar and not think about it. But when I went out one day and saw that the basil plant was slowly drying up I decided it was time to change.
And I’m so glad I did! Making pesto is so easy – it takes practically 15 minutes and most of that time is spent getting the pesto out of the food processor! When you make your own pesto, you can alter the flavors to your liking and experiment with different nuts and even add in other herbs. Also the taste of fresh pesto exceeds store bought by a landslide!
So no further ado.. here’s an amazing, customizable, pesto recipe inspired by love and lemons.
How to customize:
I always use 2/3 basil + 1/3 coriander because otherwise the basil flavor is a bit too strong, but feel free to use all basil or experiment with addition of other herbs like mint or arugula
For the nuts I used a combination of walnuts and almonds, but you can use any nuts – pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans.. Pine nuts are generally the best for pesto but I didn’t have any on hand 🙂
Add in some grated parmesan cheese, some nutritional yeast or a dash of balsamic vinegar for some extra kick. Most recipes also use black pepper but I prefer the taste without it. It’s a personal opinion though so if you like it – go for it!
(Makes around 1 cup)
1 1/2 cup herbs
1/4 cup nuts
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and paprika/chili flakes
Lightly toast the nuts in a small plan until lightly browned
Add all the ingredients in a food processor until well blended
Taste and adjust the salt or acidity if necessary. If too sour, add a splash of honey or agave syrup.
This is a take on indian ‘khichdi’, a simple traditional stew made with lentils, rice and vegetables. I used millet instead of rice and added some masala to brighten it up.
It’s a one pot meal – all the veggies, lentils and grains are dropped into a pressure cooker with some ghee and spices and voila, in twenty minutes you have a complete meal.
It’s already vegetarian but if you use oil instead of ghee and omit the yogurt topping, it’s vegan!
This dish is a nutrition power house! Protein rich from the lentils and millet, high in fibre, full of vitamins and minerals! Millet is one of the best sources of copper and manganese, while the ginger and yogurt aide digestion.
Did I mention it’s creamy, comforting and delicious?
I have used carrots and bottle gourd (an indian vegetable) this time, but most vegetables work really well in this type of stew or khichdi. Use whatever produce you have at home – Zucchini, Spinach, Kale, Beans etc. would all be fine. Just keep in mind some vegetables like greens decrease a lot in volume when cooked so you would need to use more of them to start with. If you don’t have millet feel free to use rice.
Lentil Millet Vegetable Stew
(Makes 1 large serving, just multiply the ingredients to make more)
~1.5 – 2 cup vegetables diced
1/4 cup lentils (I used green split mung – mung (gram) lentils work best)
1/4 cup millet
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1.5 tsp ghee/oil
1 tsp curry powder (can substitute with indian spices of choice like cumin, coriander or turmeric powder)
salt to taste
plain yogurt + coriander/cilantro to top (optional)
Wash the millet and lentils
In a pressure cooker turn on medium heat and add the ghee or oil
When the ghee/oil becomes hot, add in the diced onion and sautee until browned
Add in the vegetables, ginger, spices, millet and lentils.
I love arugula. Call me weird, but the bitterness is appealing to me? It’s one of the only leaves I’ll have raw. Raw spinach? bleh. Lettuce? tasteless. collard? ew.
But I’m not exactly fond of salads. They’re not filling enough or they’re doused in way too sweet dressing or they’re bland. So instead I like my arugula on pizza or in dishes like this. This dish is absolutely complete. Soft, fluffy millet, warm spicy curry, mellow sweet potato, bright acidic cherry tomatoes and sharp arugula.
I recently discovered millet as a grain. Prior, I’d only had millet flour rotis which are very popular in India and ‘baajre ki khichdi’ which is a millet stew cooked traditionally in lots of indian ghee and milk or cream. I had never actually had millet by itself. But a few weeks ago my mom picked up a bag of organic mixed millet and I fell in love! Its softer and less chewy than grains like quinoa and brown rice. It also has milder, less nutty taste.
The next component of the dish is the curry! This is a spicy, improvised curry that I sort of made up as I went a long. It has garlic, onion, coconut milk and a generous dash of spices. The sweet potato really balances out the spiciness.
And last but not least, the cherry tomatoes. We don’t normally have cherry tomatoes at home because they’re not always available here. We have to go to speciality grocery stores and even then, they’re quite expensive. But boy are they worth it! They’re spunky and colorful and they just elevate the dish.
I really hope you try out this dish. Even if you don’t have all the components – improvise! No millet? Use rice or another similar grain. No arugula? Skip it, or another raw green. No cherry tomatoes? Use normal diced tomatoes! Don’t have all the spices? Use a store bought curry powder, garam masala or thai spice mix instead!Don’t like sweet potato or spinach? Use other veggies – normal potatoes would be fine and you can substitute in any other vegetable under the sun. Pumpkin or zucchini would be wonderful here!
Oh, and I forgot to mention – this is accidentally vegan 🙂
Now on to the recipe!
Sweet Potato & Spinach curry
(makes 3 portions)
2/3 tablespoon diced garlic/garlic paste
1 large or 2 small onions, diced
1 tsp grated ginger
3 small or two medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1.5 cup spinach (or just 2 handfuls) cleaned and chopped roughly
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/cumin powder, 1/4 tsp fenugreek powder, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/2-1 tsp chili powder, dash of black pepper and salt to taste
3-4 handfuls arugula, cleaned
cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
2 cups cooked millet or any other grain
Heat some olive oil in a pan and when it’s hot, add in the garlic, onion and ginger.
Keep mixing and when the onion and garlic are lightly browned, add in the sweet potato, around 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup of the coconut milk.
Cover and let simmer on low heat for around 15 minutes.
Add in the spices and 1/4 cup more of the coconut milk, stir well
Cook for another 10 minutes until the sweet potato is tender, stirring well throughout
Add in the spices and the rest of the coconut milk, stir until the curry is thickened and the spinach is cooked (about a minute)
Remove from heat
Remove the stems from the arugula (unless you can take the bitter taste of the stems then leave them on) and arrange a handful on the plate
Divide the millet into three portions and place a portion onto the plate
Top with cherry tomatoes and a generous helping of the curry
A wonderful crispy granola, perfect in the morning with some cold milk and some dried fruit added on top. Or however you like granola, but thats my preference 🙂
I find making my own granola much better than buying store bought because I can alter the flavors to my liking and mix and match it instead of having the same flavor everyday. Also, I know exactly what’s going into it – no chemicals or sneaky corn syrup hiding in here! Not to mention, it’s super easy. All you need is oats, toppings, an oven and less than half an hour of your time. And 20 minutes of that is just waiting for it in the oven.
This is a simple granola because I like making this and then adding whatever toppings I feel like on that day, but feel free to add in more flavors or dried fruits or anything into the recipe.
2 cups oats (rolled oats are best, but any oats would work!)
1/4 cup olive/coconut oil
1/4 cup honey/agave
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
More add ins: dried fruit, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, coffee powder, cinnamon, maple extract, cocoa nibs)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and take out a baking tray
In a small saucepan, heat the oil and add in the honey and vanilla extract. Stir on low heat for about a minute until well integrated.
Spread the oats, nuts and whatever other toppings on the baking tray.
Pour the wet ingredients on top and mix well.
Pop in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes, shaking the tray ever 5 minutes to make sure the granola doesn’t stick and gets evenly baked.
Done! Serve with yogurt, milk or fresh fruit!
Note: If you use dried fruit, add in only in the last 3 minutes.