Spicy Coconut-Chickpea Stew

If I ask you think about chickpeas, what’s the first dish that pops into your mind? I bet it’s either hummus or falafel. Am I right?

Well, when I think about chickpeas, what I imagine — and immediately crave — is my warming, spicy, savory, coconut-milk-based stew.

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I don’t always make it exactly the same way. If I’m out of one spice, I might substitute another. If I have ground turkey in the fridge, I’ll sometimes brown and crumble that in after I sauté the shallots, to turn this into a sort of South-Asia-scented white chili. If I’m serving a vegan, I leave out the yogurt (and of course the turkey) and add a little more coconut milk. Like most of the things I like to make, this recipe is forgiving and allows for flexibility.

If you prefer dried chickpeas, by all means go for it, though rinsed canned ones work beautifully here. Serve over rice if desired.

Coconut-Chickpea Stew

¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon turmeric
3 cardomom pods
1 star anise
3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
2–3 small shallots (about 3 ounces), finely sliced, divided
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3-inch piece of lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed and lightly pounded
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 cup diced tomatoes
62 ounces (4 15.5-ounce cans) canned chickpeas, well rinsed
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1) Toast the spices in a dry pan for about 3 minutes and cook over medium-low heat, until they smell fragrant and slightly toasty. Remove to a small bowl and set aside. Add coconut flakes to pan and toast until pale golden around the edges. Set aside in a separate bowl.

2) Cook 2/3 of the shallots in 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium-low heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the toasted spices (but not the coconut flakes), red pepper flakes, lemongrass and ginger and cook on low heat for 5 minutes more. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes. Add chickpeas, coconut milk, yogurt (if using) and broth; stir to incorporate, then cover and simmer 10 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, heat remaining coconut oil in a small pan over medium-high heat until hot. Cook remaining shallot until golden brown, 5–7.

4) Remove chickpeas from heat and stir in salt and lime juice. Taste and add more salt and/or lime juice as necessary. Serve over rice (if desired), garnished with cilantro, fried shallots, toasted coconut and lime wedges.

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Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at schoenfein@forward.com and on Twitter, @lifedeathdinner. Her personal blog is Life, Death & Dinner.

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