Home Cooking: Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric

The COVID-19 lockdown is a perfect opportunity to try out all the recipes that I’ve been printing out and then putting to one side! I have quite a collection.

Some have already proven to be failures (for me, at least). I was so concerned that the ribs wouldn’t be cooked long enough in Roy Choi’s Braised Short-Rib Stew (which weirdly, as of March 2020, isn’t behind it’s usual NYT pay firewall), that while I managed to cook the ribs a long time (and they were delicious), I absent-mindedly chucked in the rest of the ingredients way too early.

So, the expensive and somewhat hard to find ingredients (roasted chestnuts, taro, fresh shitake mushrooms) melted down with the pumpkin into a thick gravy and it wasn’t a success.

In contrast, Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric would have to be my biggest success of the lockdown so far (photo at the top of the post). A columnist for the New York Times and Bon Appétit, she’s a cook and cookbook writer and you can visit her here. Her recipe is up on the New York Times website (and is behind the paywall) but it’s been reproduced in different places on the web, for example, here in the Irish Times, that calls it the chickpea stew that broke the internet.

The spices aren’t complicated (turmeric, ginger, garlic and onions) and neither are the ingredients, but matched with two cans of coconut milk (which are in short supply in Sydney at the moment, I think because of panic buying), and the chickpeas and chard, this stew was magical.

I was especially pleased with rehydrating the dried chickpeas myself in the pressure cooker (and then used the chickpea water with a few stock cubes instead of the water and stock called for in the recipe). Frying the chickpeas until they have a lovely crunchy texture on the outside is magic (I’ve also done this for a chickpea pasta recipe which was great).

I think this might have been the first time ever that I cooked with silverbeet (In Australia, they call the one with white stalks silverbeet and the ones with red stalks Swiss Chard, though I believe in North America, it’s all chard). I loved the substantial texture and weight of the leaves.

Since I hate waste, I looked up a recipe for how to use the stalks and made an Italian-style silverbeet stalks dish. We’d run out of parmesan though, which I think made a difference. Even with the garlic, capers and rich tomato sauce, we both found the dish a bit bland, and serving it as a separate course rather than a side dish emphasised this (even though the handful of macaroni I threw in was good for textural contrast).

It was a bit better, the next day, served alongside ANOTHER recipe I’d wanted to try, pressure cooker aloo masala (Indian curry potatoes), which I won’t bother posting a link too since the ideas were cobbled together from a few different recipes. The potatoes were OK but not fab; I’ll stick with something like the Washington Post’s Divorce Potato Roasties instead. And sadly, will probably toss the silverbeet stalks the next time I make the chickpea stew!

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