curried chickpeas & instant pilaf

This recipe is classic one-pot cooking. It was inspired by the incredible pita sandwiches that we found and devoured at a Hebrew restaurant called Gam Gam in the Venetian Ghetto. These lifesavers (good, cheap food in Venice is not easy to find) consisted of freshly-baked pita, filled with felafels, vegetables and hummus. These made the best dinner – we ate them three out of five nights while in Venice!

One of the best fillings was a mix of chickpeas and sweet roasted capsicum, with a scent of curry to it. This was so good that I decided to recreate it as a meal in itself – and since then it’s been a weekly treat during our time in Belgium. It’s cheap, quick and easy, but really moreish and satisfying.

I like to serve it with pilaf, and have also come up with a kind of cheat instant version made with pre-cooked rice. This was the result of me trying to liven up some leftover rice and is really amazingly tasty thanks to the toasted seeds – and the butter! Some natural yogurt or tzadziki are also great on the side.

I’m actually in the middle of a minor love affair with sunflower seeds, I think of them as a kind of poor-man’s pine nut – you get all the toasty flavour and crunch for a fraction of the price. They may not be quite so elegant as pinoli, but a few toasted seeds sprinkled on top of a finished dish are a real pick-up, both for texture and flavour.

I’ve been cooking this without any chilli, and have really enjoyed the mellow, nutty flavour of the chickpeas combined with the sweet capsicum and onions. That said, I’m sure a hit of dried chilli at the start would be nice.

curried chickpeas with capsicum and caramelised onion

1 400g tin chick peas, drained
1 red capsicum, quartered lengthways then sliced
1 large onion (brown or red) halved and sliced
1–2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

to make

Heat a frying pan on medium-high. When the pan is hot add the olive oil and then the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are getting soft add the capsicum and continue cooking until the onions are golden and the capsicum is softening.

Move the onion and capsicum mix to one side of the pan. In the clear half sprinkle the curry powder. Allow that to toast for a moment before adding the chickpeas and mixing everything together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are becoming golden and a little bit crusted.


instant pilaf – ‘insta-laf’

2ish cups cooked rice – cold
3 tablespoons seeds (sunflower, sesame, pine nuts etc)
2 tablespoons butter

to make

Toast the seeds on a medium-high heat, stirring often, until they are golden. Add the butter and melt. Add the rice and mix everything together. Cook, stirring often, until the rice is hot.

Ridiculously delicious!

PS Sorry about the poor-quality of the photos – there is literally no natural light in our room on wintery Belgian evenings, so am trying to make do with lamps and lower light levels!


2 responses to “curried chickpeas & instant pilaf

  1. This is your official hello from your No# 1 fan.

    I’d like to add few notes on these recipes from an eaters perspective. Curried chickpeas and instalaf are filling, hearty and (in the case of the curry) packed with protein. It’s essentially what I crave for after an intense exercise session, at least when there is no steak at hand.

    Instalaf is a good carb hit, and the toasted seeds add depths of flavour that defy the meager amount of effort it takes to throw them in. Both dishes are also very nice cool, straight out of the fridge.

    Being a curry, the meal is quite nice with either beer or wine. I accompanied this meal on two multiple occasions with a blond Leffe, or with a glass of whatever red wine we had … (I think it was ‘Château Sentout La Grange’, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux?)

    Keep up the good cooking .


    The Bottomless Pit

  2. This looks like a fantastic recipe, going to give it a go sometime. Read all your blogs so far, loving it all, the photos are inspirational!

    If you’re keen on lentils and lemon, try lemony lentil soup, it’s an amazing mixture so long as you don’t put too much lemon in =P

    Look forward to your future blogs!

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