spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric aka *the stew*

spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric aka *the stew*

Writing has felt like such a slog lately, all I want to do is read. I’m currently reading The Color Purple for the first time, and it has swallowed me whole. It’s so intense, I can’t peel myself away. I’m sure the writing slump is a phase that’ll pass in its own time, but meanwhile I guess I’ll just have to risk a bit of a lackluster narrative because I have so much cooking to tell you about! Pilafs and burgers and a cookbook review, but first we must discuss the The Stew.

After more than two months of non-stop instagram fomo, I finally made Alison Roman’s second internet-breaking recipe (the cookies being her first, of course). And let me tell you what, it lived up to every last promise that it made - hearty, but not gut-busting, fragrant and full of flavor. It’s hygge in food form and simple perfection for a cozy winter evening at home.

When I made it last weekend, I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, except I completely forgot to add the greens. It was all good though because I ended up liking it better sans green, and hey, I guess those thousands of instagram posts (#TheStew) weren’t lying when they gushed about its endless riffability. I can appreciate a recipe that keeps things flexible, you know? Unlike that rude guy from Slate who tried (and failed imo) to claim that a riffable recipe was the same thing as food that needed “doctoring.” (I’m not even going to link the article here because I don’t want to volunteer clicks for such an eye roll, but google Slate + the Stew if you’re curious.)

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That article gave me some feels (like, who even is this guy?) but all I’ll say is this - doctoring is something you do to leftovers, cans of beans, and airport sandwiches. It’s hot sauce and tajin, maybe some extra cheese and a jzujz in the microwave. Altering a recipe as you are cooking it is LITERALLY JUST COOKING. It’s the whole entire point of making food for yourself. Recipes are supposed to vary from kitchen to kitchen, that’s what developing a cooking style is all about. A’Doy.

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Anyway, I made the stew, used half the red pepper, was too lazy to scoop out the recommended cup of chickpeas for garnish, accidentally left out the greens, finished it with lime juice, and not only was it a wholesome and rib-sticking supper but now it’s officially part of my repertoire. You can never have too many back-pocket “pantry meals” in my opinion. It’s also the prettiest bowl of chickpeas I’ve ever met, thanks to the turmeric, which is the star of the flavor profile as well. I was truly shocked and impressed with the depth of flavor that developed in the less-than-an-hour of cooking time.

We loved it with a big dollop of greek yogurt and a garnish of mint, as recommended, but if I’d had any cilantro on hand I would’ve thrown some of that in too. You can’t mess it up, which is my favorite thing about it. Put it on your winter to-cook list for sure, and don’t be afraid to make it your own!  

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Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric, adapted from Alison Roman for the NY Times
Serves 4

For the Stew
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (red or yellow)
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces (optional, see note at bottom)

For Serving
1 cup mint leaves
Plain yogurt
Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes)
Flakey salt
Limes for squeezing  

Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, ginger and season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

Stir in turmeric, red pepper flakes, and chickpeas. Then season again with salt and pepper (don’t worry, it’s not too much). Cook, stirring occasionally, to let the chickpeas fry in the oil and spices until they start to get crispy and break down a little, about 10 minutes. Remove a half cup or so of chickpeas for garnish (original calls for a whole cup, but honestly it doesn’t matter if you forget the chickpea garnish entirely).

Using a wooden spoon, crush the remaining chickpeas slightly so that they release their starchy insides, which will thicken up the stew. Add the coconut milk and stock to the pot, and give it one more good pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stew has thickened and the flavors have gelled together, 30 to 35 minutes. Take a quick taste test, making sure to get a few chickpeas in the bite so that you can make sure they taste good and stewie, and not like they just came out of the can. (They will truly transform. I lit said “whoa” when I tasted it the first time ha!) If after half an hour the stew isn’t thick enough for you just keep simmering and tasting until it is. If it gets too thick add a few splashes of water.

If you’re using the greens, add them about five minutes out from when you plan to eat, making sure that they are fully submerged in the stew. (Spinach and Swiss chard will wilt much faster than kale).

To serve, portion the stew out into bowls and top with yogurt, mint, Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes), flaky salt, and a squeeze of lime juice. Maybe a drizzle of olive oil if you’re really feeling it. Garnish with the reserved chickpeas if you set some aside earlier.

Note: I totally forgot to add the baby kale I had set aside for this, and tbh, I preferred it sans greens. Then again, I love the completeness of the meal with the greens included, and it was delicious when I tried it later on.

Make ahead: This stew works really well on the reheat and would be perfect for a dinner party because you could prepare it entirely beforehand, then heat it up on the stove with a few splashes of water or broth just before serving.


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