Chickpeas are definitely in my top 3 legumes, and they go brilliantly with Persian flavours like pomegranate molasses and preserved lemon. I was inspired by a recipe for them on EatTheRightStuff with spicy beef which incorporates an interesting ingredient I wasn’t familiar with – barberries. Apparently the sour little fruits are traditionally served at weddings, to remind guests that marriages have their downs as well as their ups. Unable to resist a philosophical fruit I set out to explore the array of Turkish and Middle-Eastern grocers in my neighbourhood. Each an Aladdin’s cave of strange nuts and dirt-cheap chillies, they bore success. Buoyed up, I also bought some odd-looking flakes of dried yoghurt which can apparently be turned into a kind of sourdough soup. But that’s for a later date.
I added a little freshly ground cinnamon, pomegranate molasses and extra preserved lemon to Abby’s recipe, and it came out great. It tastes wonderfully citrussy, which along with the last-minute coriander really lifts the dish.
I served it with some lavash and a bowl of simple baba ghanoush topped with a swirl more pomegranate molasses, which was a delicious accompaniment. After spending quite some time trying to get the aubergines to char under the grill (I’d usually use the barbecue, but weather stopped play), I resorted to the kitchen blowtorch, which worked surprisingly well at finishing them off.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 600g beef mince
- 600g tinned chickpeas (drained weight), drained but reserve the liquid
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander seed
- 2 dry roast & ground chipotle (or 2 chopped chillies)
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 preserved lemon, finely chopped, seeds discarded
- small handful of dried barberries (optional)
- handful chopped coriander leaves
- Heat the oil and add the mince. Brown over a high heat, stirring and breaking the mince up.
- Add the drained chickpeas, keeping the heat high.
- Stir occasionally until chickpeas begin to brown and pop – 5 to 10 minutes. A non-stick pan works best, but don’t worry if mixture sticks a bit. If it begins to scorch, lower heat slightly.
- Add the spices chipotle (or chilli) and garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute.
- Add reserved chickpea liquid (or ~400ml water) and stir, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits.
- Add the preserved lemon and barberries then season with salt and pepper, then turn heat to medium-low.
- Continue to cook until mixture is no longer soupy but not dry.