Friday, February 22, 2013

Chickpea and Chicken Stew for Purim


A boisterous weekend is promised with the arrival of Purim! Purim is a time of merriment, the holiday celebrating Queen Esther and Mordecai’s victory of saving the Jews of Persia from the wicked Haman. Children and adults alike dress in costumes and festivities abound.


While hamentaschen are a popular cookie to bake for Purim (when I was cooking at Hillel UW I was baking hundreds of hamentaschen at this time each year!), chickpeas are also traditional to eat. According to the Purim story, while Queen Esther lived in the court of King Ahasuerus, she ate mostly legumes so that she could maintain a kosher diet. For this reason, it is customary to eat chickpeas on Purim. As a simple snack, chickpeas are often warmed and sprinkled with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.


Over the past fifteen years or so, I’ve been making a chickpea and chicken stew that has become a favorite in our family. In the spirit of Purim, I include a blend of Persian-inspired spices with cinnamon, saffron and cardamom.


I begin by soaking dried chickpeas the night before I want to make the stew. Once this step is done, though, the stew is quick to prepare. The chickpeas cook along with the chicken, making it a one-pot meal (and even a possible weeknight dinner). After dicing a couple of onions and sautéing them in olive oil, I stir in the spices and chicken, followed by the soaked chickpeas, some chicken broth and a squeeze of lime. At this point, you can leave the stew to simmer while you chop a salad, steam some rice (or my new favorite, cauliflower “rice”) and open a bottle of wine.


The fragrant spices mingle together as the stew bubbles, taking you to far-away lands and filling your house with a delicious aroma. The chicken is tender and velvety, the chickpeas add a soft pop of texture and the onions melt into a luscious sauce. A bowl of stew energizes us for the Purim carnivals and hamentaschen eating yet to come. Chag Purim Sameach (Happy Purim)!

Chickpea and Chicken Stew
Serves 6

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
A pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 3-4 pound organic chicken, cut into 6 serving pieces
3 cups organic chicken broth
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
Steamed rice for serving

The night before you plan to make this stew, cover the chickpeas in a bowl with water and let soak overnight.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot (I use a 5 quart size), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 7-8 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, saffron, salt and pepper and after a stir let cook for a minute. Add the chicken pieces and allow the chicken to cook and brown for a few minutes. Drain the chickpeas and stir them in. Pour in the chicken broth and lime juice and gently stir to mix. The chickpeas should be covered but the chicken may not be completely submerged – this is ok.

Bring the stew to a boil, partially cover the pot and lower the heat. Let simmer for about 45-50 minutes, until the chickpeas are soft and the chicken is tender. The stew can be prepared ahead and rewarmed before serving. Just before eating, stir in the chopped parsley and taste for additional salt and pepper. Serve with bowls of steamed rice.

32 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful dinner and perfect for Purim or really any night of the week. And, thank you for including my cauliflower rice - it would be really good over it!

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    1. Thank you, Alyssa! I am hooked on your cauliflower rice - made it twice this week and we all enjoy it. What a brilliant idea! Happy Purim!

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  2. This looks lovely, and easily made vegetarian, too! I love chickpeas!

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    1. Thank you, Brooke! I'm a big fan of chickpeas, too. Roasting them with olive oil, smoked paprika and salt is a favorite appetizer of mine. Let me know if you make a veggie version of this stew - I'm sure you'd make a delicious one!

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  3. Your food is always so wonderfully, beautifully, simple and complex at the same time. Love the chickpea angle - I had no idea!

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    1. You make me smile, Beth! Thank you, I appreciate your kind words. Hope you're enjoying a delicious, fun Purim!

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  4. YUM! Looks so delicious. I love chickpeas with chicken, and I didn't even know it's a tradition on Purim to eat garbanzo beans, what a great tidbit. Hag Purim Samech - have a very happy (and delicious) holiday Hannah!

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    1. Thank you, Orly! I hope you are having a marvelous time celebrating Purim (and eating lots of good treats!). :)

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  5. I can just imagine the spectacular smells that would come from this...I especially love starting something and heading out for a big walk with the dogs and returning home to all the goodness. YUM!

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    1. You're so right, Erina - there's nothing like stepping into a house filled with delicious aromas, especially after working up an appetite walking your dogs. Hope all is well with you!

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  6. This looks and sounds wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Pat - it's my pleasure! Hope all is well with you. :)

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  7. This looks so up my alley. I'm saving this one to make sure I make it soon. It's the perfect comfort meal for me. I particularly love the combination of chicken and cardamom. I fell in love with the combo with TasteFood's recipe for roasted chicken on Food52.

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    1. Ooohh, I have to check out Lynda's chicken recipe...I'm sure it's marvelous. Thanks for letting me know! And you're so right, chicken and chickpeas do make a comforting meal together.

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  8. This sounds really delicious! I've never worked with dried chickpeas before, but I'm aching to do so. I love the idea of serving it with cauliflower rice, too. I've had a couple of horror stories involving saffron--I think maybe my pinches were a bit generous, which is silly considering it's the most expensive spice there is--but both times I've used it, it has ruined the flavor of the dish! Perhaps the third time will be the charm. Happy Purim!

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    1. Thank you, Brianne! I think you'll be pleased cooking with dried chickpeas - so good! This is a nice dish to make with them since it all cooks together. The main thing is to make sure you soak them. I've taken to making a pot of chickpeas to keep on hand for snacking, salads, etc during the week. I've also heard they freeze well (in a little of their liquid) but haven't tried it yet. And I so agree about saffron - I use a tiny pinch since I, too, have over seasoned dishes with it. A little goes a long way! I think the threads are quite pretty, too.

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  9. It's so interesting to learn things about a new cuisine... this looks delicious.

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    1. Thank you, Chinmayie! Definitely fun to learn about new cultures and cuisines - I appreciate all you share. :)

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  10. I love the flavors in this stew and adore chick peas.

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    1. Thank you, Lynda! Chickpeas are indeed marvelous - so cute, tasty and versatile. Roasted with a little olive oil and some spices, they've become my favorite go-to appetizer.

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  11. Love chickpeas and so glad you use the dried version instead of canned. It somehow carries a weird taste from the can :D

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    1. Hi Kiran! I agree, dried are so much tastier and have better texture. I'm trying to get into the habit of cooking a pot of beans or chickpeas to have on hand for salads and other dishes.

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  12. I hope you had a happy Purim! If you ate this, I imagine you did. It's beautiful and the combination of lime with the spices sounds so comforting. Lovely, as always.

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    1. Thank you, Jenni, you are so kind! This is indeed a warm, soothing mix of spice. You could easily make a vegan version of this stew, too, by using veg broth, adding more legumes and perhaps some carrots.

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  13. Hmmmm! I especially love the shot of chicken stew in the pot. I just stopped there to imagine how this stew is going to taste like... I always enjoy reading about your cooking. I learn a lot of new flavors and new style of cooking as I'm bored myself to death with Japanese food. ;)

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    1. Oh, thank you, Nami! I must say, Japanese food is at the top of our list and I appreciate all I learn from you. I'm trying to add more into my home cooking now. I wish we lived closer...I'd be the neighbor popping in to say hi around dinner time! :)

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  14. I've not heard of the festival of Purim before, but I would need no excuse to polish off a big bowl of this fabulous stew. This is totally my kind of dish and definitely one I will be trying.

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    1. Thank you! I do hope you enjoy the stew and I'm happy you stopped by.

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  15. I love chickpeas, what a fragrant and comforting stew!

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    1. Thank you, Laura! Chickpeas are truly marvelous and I love their versatility. We are still having chilly evenings, so comforting stews are on the menu for a bit longer.

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  16. Replies
    1. Oh, this makes me happy! Thank you for letting me know. Happy almost-spring to you!

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