This delightful stew features the chickpea, a tiny legume with a whole lot of history. Its origins can be traced all the way back to the Neolithic period; 7,500-year-old chickpea remains have been found in the Middle East. Ancient people thought they were beneficial in treating kidney stones, and the Romans roasted them for snacks. They even made an appearance in Homer's The Illiad, in which arrows bouncing off of an enemy's breastplate are compared to chickpeas being thrown by a winnower.
Beloved by many cultures, the chickpea is also known as garbanzo bean, chana, Egyptian pea, ceci bean and Bengal gram. Chickpeas are widely used to make curries throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and chickpeas preserved in syrup are eaten as sweets in the Philippines. Ground, roasted chickpeas are even used in Germany as a substitute for coffee.
The history-laden little bean takes a starring role in this rich stew. Make it for friends at an Open Arms potluck -- when made with canned chickpeas, this recipe is a quick and easy hit.
Coconut Peanut Chickpea Stew
(Serves 6 as a main meal; 8-10 as a side dish)
1 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup bell pepper (any color), diced
1 cup carrots, sliced on a bias
6 cups chickpeas (if canned, drained and rinsed)
1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 to 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. coriander (ground or whole seeds -- if using whole seeds crush them on your cutting board with the back of your knife before adding to the dish)
2 tsp. cumin
salt to taste
1. In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Sweat them until they become translucent.
2. Add the carrots and saute for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the garbanzo beans and bell pepper and sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the coconut milk and peanut butter, and then bring the ingredients to a simmer.
5. Add the cherry tomatoes, turmeric, coriander, salt and cumin. Simmer for another minute or so, releasing the aromatics.
6. Remove the pot from the heat and throw in the cilantro. Taste for salt and add more of any of the spices to your liking. Add a dash of red pepper flakes or cayenne if you like your dish to be spicy. If the coconut milk is thick, you can thin the stew slightly by adding water until you reach the desired consistency.