This is a vegetarian chick pea stew. Without the chick peas, it is in essence a warm, smoky salsa sauce. It’s worth getting smoked paprika for this dish, it really adds to the flavour. If you can’t get this, regular paprika is fine. Serve this as part of a tapas spread or with steamed basmati rice and a fluffy Mediterranean flat bread.
You will need:
Extra virgin olive oil
A bulb of garlic, the more voluptuous the cloves the better
A medium sized red onion
A medium red or green chilli
A bay leaf
Ground smoked paprika (make sure it’s smoked!)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
2-3 good quality medium sized tomatoes
A can of chick peas
Red or green capsicum (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Top, tail, crush and chop several bulbs of garlic. Chop the chilli. Peel and chop the red onion. In a large solid bottomed pan, pour in around 20ml of olive oil and bring to a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli, this should sizzle. After 30-60 seconds, add the onion. Stir in and ensure this is coated with oil. Bring the heat to low and simmer for five minutes.
While the onion simmers, chop the tomatoes into halves, half again then half again. Retain as much of the liquid as possible on the chopping board. There is no need to peel these but you should use the best quality tomatoes you can find. If you want, you can microwave the tomatoes for 2 minutes to soften them and speed up the sauce making process.
Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and smoked paprika, use a moderately heaped 5ml teaspoon of each except for the cayenne of which you should use a half teaspoon. Stir in and continue to stir on a low heat, gently roasting the spices. Once a lovely aroma starts to be given off, keep striving a short time then one it seems dry and the coated onion etc begins to separate add in the tomatoes and mix well.
Keep on a low heat and simmer, gently bashing the tomato to pulverise it. Turn up the heat a little, the trick here is to begin to reduce the mixture, as it begins to thicken and dry, taking great care not to burn or catch the mixture, then add a cup of water and the bay leaf. if you’re using capsicum, add it now.
Stir in the water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer and reduce the sauce again. Once this thickens, add another cup of water, bring to the boil, simmer and reduce half. Add the chick peas, gently simmer for 30 minutes. Keep hydrated, you should aim to be left with a thick dark red sauce,
Season to taste, serve as directed above garnished with fresh coriander. You can counter the heat with soured cream (fresh cream with a dash of lemon juice, add a dash of paprika for interest) or Greek yogurt.