Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Chickpea Tagine with Green Harissa
Last summer my friends and I, with our respective spouses and kids headed to Bar Harbor, ME for a long weekend getaway.
The idea of a few days away relaxing in a vacation rental and eating out, drinking late into the night and chitchatting with friends is my very grown up idea of a vacation. Gone are those days when these same friends and I would hang out late at pubs, get wasted , or dance all night long till our legs gave away. Amongst us friends, there was a secret competition to see who stayed on the dance floor the longest. I lasted almost to the end. I miss those carefree days I must admit.
Anyhow, circling back to Bar Harbor. We had heard so much about the lobster rolls that all the meat/fish eaters in the group were thrilled at the idea. The vegetarians amongst us always found some salads and other sides to fill up on in those tourist traps that were lobster restaurants. I didnt care, because the view was wonderful, we were getting to spend time together as a family and I had my girlfriends close by to chat with.
We walked all the streets of Bar Harbor, went into the Acadia National Park a few times and always looked forward to a nice sitdown dinner at one of many restaurants with our friends. One such evening, we had walked quite a bit with kids in strollers and were quite pooped to walk anymore. I was ready to rest my laurels and fill up my rumbling belly.
One of my friends, who doesn't have kids, and thus has a lot more energy to spare, decided to keep walking around to find a nice place for dinner. She finally found this one vegan restaurant, god knows where, and called us to walk over to that place. She herself is an avid meat eater, so go figure!
I grumbled, kicked and screamed that I didnt want to walk that far. She insisted that the menu looked good. So for the collective peace of the group, I put my son in the stroller and off we went.We walked and walked and then walked some more and this place wasn't in sight. I was convinced this wasn't worth it and kept thinking to myself I should've put my foot down. Afterall, this friend doesnt understand how tired I am already. I can be very grumpy company, sometimes.
Finally we arrived at this place, and it looked like a house converted into a restaurant. I'm thinking to myself, in lobster haven, what must this vegan place be doing that's so special.
We were all seated and hungry and as soon as we looked at the menu, I was impressed. The menu was seasonal, everything sounded so yummy, you would never think it was all vegan. After a year however, the only dish I remember ordering and loving, is this Chickpea Tagine over Couscous with Green Harissa.
Here I have tried to recreate the flavors from memory, and by no means is this the same recipe as the chef prepared at Eden. When I got home and looked up recipes for Green Harissa, nothing came up. When I was eating it, I could liken it to a fiery green coconut chutney that you see in many south indian recipes. So thats what I did, I made a very hot green coconut chutney.
In recreating those flavors, I made chickpeas indian chole style,afterall moroccan spices are very similar to indian ones, couscous from a packet and the green chutney.
So here goes the recipe
Dry chickpeas - soaked overnight, boiled in a pressure cooker until soft or cook in a pan, covered in twice as much water for 30-45 mins
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp Chilli Powder (depending on required heat)
1 tsp Coriander Powder
Everest Chole Masala or Garam Masala
1/2 small onion (yellow or red)
2 plum tomatoes
1/2 inch ginger, peeled
1 or 2 green chillies (optional)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Heat oil in a dry pan and add onions to it. Let onions get light brown.
- Add chilli powder and coriander powder and let it roast in the oil for 1 min
- Add Chole Masala (if using) *or* Garam Masala and let that roast in oil for another 1-2 mins.
- Add chopped tomatoes, green chillies and ginger and cover and let it cook on medium for 5 mins or until the tomatoes are soft and oil starts to seperate.
- Add salt to the tomatoes and then the cooked chickpeas. Chickpeas should be overcooked and soft, hence shouldnt take long to cook. Add a small amount of water, to help the sauce along but please dont be tempted to make a curry out of it. Cover and let it cook for 5 mins till all the flavors meld. Turn the stove off and let the Chickpeas cool and the flavors develop.
- If you are like me, a dash of lemon at the end , after the heat is turned off , is a must. Totally optional.
- Boxed couscous (I used Near East Plain Couscous)
- Dash of olive oil
I used 1/2 cup of dry couscous and followed directions on the box.
Green Harissa (or Green Coconut Chutney)
- 1/4 cup Frozen shredded coconut (thawed or microwave for 30 secs)
- 2-4 Green chillies (adjust to required heat, the one I made used 4 chillies and was very hot, so was the one at the restaurant)
- small handful of fresh coriander
In a small blender, blend all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Add a spash of water to help it along but do not let it get runny.
Entertain a crowd with this filling recipe, serve chickpeas on a bed of couscous, with some raw onions or grilled zucchini and the harissa on the side.Wash it down with a cold lemonade or a chilled wine.