Food is very important to me. My parents would celebrate successes over meals either at home or at the new joint down the street – instilling the belief that tasty food + good company = everything is right with the world. I packed this sentiment into my suitcase when I left for distant shores. My hankering for the newness of undiscovered places to eat or drink became a bit of an addiction. One of my fondest food memories was in South Bend Indiana. There was a secret place to buy barbequed chicken located in the basement of someone’s house. A residential neighborhood, who would have suspected? Out of that kitchen came the most succulent, melt in your mouth barbequed chicken you have ever had – and it remains one of the best I have had in over 25 years. Little secrets hidden away to be discovered. What a treat. To be quite honest, it wasn’t until I had children that I saw the value of a permanent home for myself. When the wind blows it still raises the urge to explore.
What we eat is such an emotional thing. Memories of your Momma, friends and family are inextricably tied to food traditions passed down from generation to generation. It’s one of the reasons I put so much thought into the meals we eat. For 2 1/2 years I was a vegetarian and I still have a strong leaning toward that way of life. Convenient, ready to eat packaged goods allow us to ignore the source of the bounty available. I now eat meat, but am cognizant of where it comes from and support head to tail consumption.
Over the last few months we have been reducing our meat intake and trying to eat cleaner. This process has reaffirmed my commitment to understanding where my food comes from. It’s not easy to locate healthy, whole food. Packaging is deliberately misleading and it can be far too freakin’ expensive! MMH will explore affordable options while still trying to eat mindfully. In that spirit, I would like to share a recipe for Turkish Potato and Chickpea Stew with Baharat I adapted from Herbivoracious. Deelicious and good for you;)
The word Baharat means spices in Arabic. The combination of spices used are dependent on where you are having it. There are many variations – some even use crushed rose petals. The effect is more aromatic than a curry. This spice mixture may be used as a rub for meat or you can put it in at the start of cooking or sprinkle it on after for different results. It’s a great “go to” mix to have around – and something different from the norm.
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsps cumin
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1 Tbsp dried mint (I used fresh bc I did not have dried)
1 Tbsp clove
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp green cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon (I used more because I love the flavour, you could revert back to the original recipe for a pinch)
1 Tbsp of paprika (I used this but it was not called for the original recipe)
I put all of the spices in my Nutri-Bullet and pulsed the mixture until powdered. You will have extra spice. Store in an airtight container.
Turkish Potato and Chick Pea Stew
2 Tbsp grape seed oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons Turkish baharat (see above)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
fifteen-ounces crushed tomatoes
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1/2 pound dried chickpeas, cooked as usual until tender) – reserve 1 cup cooking liquid if cooking from dry
Fresh mint chopped for garnish
*Note: If possible try to use tomato paste in a glass container to avoid BPA contamination. The same holds true for crushed tomatoes. Bionaturae and Muir Glen offer BPA free cans! I am going to do some more research on this and will report my findings. The other options you have are using fresh tomatoes or ones that have been preserved in glass. Because of the acidity of tomatoes, even great organic brands like Muir Glen have linings that are unsafe. Hopefully this will change in the future.
I used a large cast iron skillet to make this dish but Herbivoracious suggests a 5 qt Dutch Oven and that would work well. Over medium heat slowly fry the diced unions, garlic until they start to soften. Then add the tomato paste and fry until it starts to brown. This will bring out a natural sweetness.
Take heart if it looks like the tomato paste is sticking to the pan – it will do this and when you add the liquid you can scrape it up. Be sure to stir constantly during this process. Add the Baharat and the cayenne and fry for a few more seconds. This will release the spice flavours (like you do with a curry). Then add reserved chickpea liquid and bring to a simmer. If you used canned chickpeas simply use a cup of organic vegetable stock (that was what we used).
Add potatoes and cook until they are just tender. This process depends on the size of your potatoes. Herbivoracious suggests 10 minutes – mine took 15. Mix in the chick peas and cook for another 15 minutes. Adjust salt and add more Baharat if need be. I served it over quinoa with sultanas, a squeeze of lemon juice and torn mint. Amazing!
Erkin Koray – Cemalim 1974