Here is a dinner suggestion in case you are looking for a new recipe to try over the weekend. We first made this stew for lunch a few days ago. I’ll admit that it was slightly over-ambitious as a lunch project, but it did tick all the right boxes for a late november meal and we are pretty sure it is something you will appreciate as well. Both Luise and I are obsessed with Moroccan flavors. Our approach is rarely strictly traditional, we usually just throw a whole bunch of Moroccan-ish ingredients, like mint + cinnamon + cumin + raisins + pomegranate seeds + lemon + almonds into the same dish and then blindly call it Moroccan. That is also what we have done with this Aubergine & Chickpea Stew. It is a little bit like a winter version of our (favorite) Moroccan salad recipe from Green Kitchen Travels. It’s warm and comfy with large chunks of slow-cooked aubergine, super flavorful with sweetness from cinnamon, saffron and raisins, has crunchy toasted almonds on top and freshness from mint, yogurt and pomegranate seeds. If you skip the yogurt on top, it’s also entirely vegan. We have had it for lunch and dinner three times this week and we are still not tired of it. Ok, maybe just a tiny bit. Especially Elsa. She always tells us that “we are the worst parents ever” whenever we serve repeat-meals and photo shoot leftovers for dinner.
Saffron is actually used as a Christmas spice in Sweden, so in case you are looking for an untraditional Christmas dinner, I think this would be a pretty great option. Especially with those pretty jewel-like pomegranate seeds on top. Our recipe is perfect for 4 persons but it can easily be doubled if you are cooking for a crowd, just use a large saucepan.
In case you haven’t cooked with millet before, it is time to add it to your repertoire. It is a gluten free seed that is soft and flavourful and works perfectly as an alternative to couscous or bulgur. It also has a comfortably short cooking time.
Moroccan Aubergine & Chickpea Stew
2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
2 onions, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large chunk fresh ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 x 14 oz / 400 g tin crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
1/4 tsp / 0,5 g crushed saffron or approx. 6 saffron threads
1 x 14 oz / 400 g tin chickpeas / garbanzo beans (or 200 g cooked chickpeas)
3/4 cup / 100 g yellow or brown raisins
1 lemon, zest (save the rest of the lemon for the salad)
1 cup / 200 g uncooked millet
2 cups / 500 ml water
1/2 tsp sea salt
Lemon, Avocado & Herb Salad
2 large ripe avocados, cut in half, destoned and flesh scooped out
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley (or coriander/cilantro), coarsely chopped
1 large handful mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, juice
2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
sea salt & ground pepper
1/2 cup / 75 g toasted almonds*, coarsely chopped
1/2 pomegranate, seeds
1/2 cup / 120 ml Turkish yogurt (optional)
Add oil to a large saucepan on medium heat. Cut the first onion in large chunks and the second one finely along with the garlic and ginger. Add them all to the saucepan and let sauté for about 10 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile cut the aubergine into bite-size chunks. Add it to the pan along with all the spices and tomato paste. Let fry for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water or oil in case the spices begin to burn against the bottom of the pan. Then add the crushed tomatoes, 2 cups of the vegetable stock and the saffron, stir around until it boils and then lower the heat. Put a lid on the sauce pan and let slowly simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chickpeas, 1/2 cup of the raisins and the last of the stock (if it looks like it’s needed) and let simmer for 15 minutes more or until the aubergines are soft and tender, stir in the lemon zest right at the end of the cooking. Meanwhile, add the millet to a medium-sized sauce pan and dry-toast on low heat for 2-3 minutes, then add water and salt, increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for about 8-9 minutes. Take it off the heat and let sit for a few minutes to absorb all the water. Add the remaining raisins and use a fork to integrate the raisins and fluff the millet. Prepare the salad by cutting the avocado into chunks, coarsely chopping the herbs and placing them in a bowl along with the pomegranate seeds. Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper, add it to the bowl and toss. Serve in bowls with the stew scooped on top of the millet, the salad on the side and almonds, pomegranate seeds and yogurt on top. Enjoy!
* We toast almonds by soaking raw almonds in heavily salted water for 20 minutes and then draining the water and roasting/toasting them in the oven on 300°F / 150°C for 20 minutes. But you can also toast them in a pan. Or simply use store-bought dry-roasted almonds.