Like “casserole,” “tagine” refers to both a type of cookware and the meal you make in it. Tagine gets its name from a Moroccan pot that looks like an oversized piece from the Sorry! game. But you don’t need an authentic tagine to make this warmly spiced chickpea and vegetable stew. A dutch oven or large frying pan will do the trick.
We call it a tagine, but with all the Indian spices it tastes like a curry. In fact, we suggest optional curry powder for an extra blast of flavor and heat. Let’s just say that this falls into the “dishes without borders” category. So you can serve it with couscous, basmati rice, flatbread, or whatever you like.
Thank heavens for chickpeas. Domesticated about 9,000 years ago, they drifted their way into hearths and hearts around the world. “Chickpeas” comes from the French “pois chiche,” but we freely use other aliases: garbanzos (Spanish), ceci (Italian), hummus (Arabic), and chana (Indian). These protein-packed little legumes taste sweet, creamy and satisfyingly nutty. And they make the perfect anchor for the other veggies and spices in this tagine.
We dial up the umami with some tomato paste. If you don’t want to use a whole can, freeze the remainder in a zipper baggie. And label it. We’ve found that a frozen lump of tomato paste looks surprisingly like frozen chicken livers.
One last thought. Feel free to improvise. Throw in your favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand. And you can play around with the proportions. This makes great leftovers. Just remember that the chickpeas are the international stars that make the dish.
Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium onions, each cut into 6 wedges
- 3 medium zucchinis, quartered lengthwise and cut into about 1½ -inch lengths
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 6 medium tomatoes, chunked, or equivalent cherry tomatoes, halved (or you can use canned), about 1-1½ pounds
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½-1 teaspoon curry powder (optional, to taste)
- 5-10 tablespoons tomato paste (½ to a full 6-ounce can), to taste
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, drained
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 2 cups water
- Dash of sugar (to taste, if desired)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
- In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions cut side down, and cook for 3 minutes without disturbing, slightly browning on one side. Turn onions and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes. Transfer onions to a large bowl.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. Cook zucchini, cut side down, undisturbed for about 4 minutes. (If zucchini gets crowded, cook in two batches.) Add garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute until fragrant—but don’t let garlic brown. Transfer all to the bowl with the onions.
- Add red pepper flakes and cook for a few seconds. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Return the onions and zucchini to the pot.
- Sprinkle cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, and curry powder (optional) onto the mixture. Cook, stirring, to coat vegetables, about 2 minutes.
- Gently stir in tomato paste, chickpeas, salt and water, and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for a half hour, stirring occasionally, or until zucchini is tender. During cooking add more water if needed. Adjust salt and seasonings, and add a dash of sugar to brighten the taste if desired.
- Serve sprinkled with cilantro.