Spicy Chickpea Casserole

So I’m back to work. Two days. And it’s going fine. So far. The routine I planned out seems to be working, the kids are cooperating and the energy levels are high enough to keep it up. So far. Two days.

One of the major challenges of being back to work is finding time to cook some decent food for ourselves. Providing for the two girls alone sometimes feels like a full time catering job. This morning we started with freshly squeezed orange juice. I blended a fresh melon and pear with porridge for Ava. Mia had cornflakes. After that I had to express milk and get Ava’s bottles ready. Mia is a big girl now and she eats what they serve in the creche, but for Ava I prefer to bring in homemade food. I made brown rice with sweet potato, tomato, carrots and lentils. At lunchtime I drive back home to express milk again (working on getting a room in the office, but we’ll have to wait and see how that is going to work out). Coming home at half five and depending on what Mia had for dinner and snack improvise something for her. Mostly yoghurt with some fruit and slice of toast. Another dinner for Ava too. White rice with peppers, broccoli and sweet potato this evening. And a milk feed.

I really love cooking for the girls and trying different things, even though I must admit that the toddler is getting a bit fussier and probably prefers the not so healthy creche food over the food we try to give her at home. But it does mean sometimes that by the time I have a chance to think about making dinner for myself and Denis I’m too tired or without inspiration. So I started a weekly meal planner. And I’m trying to put as many one pot dishes on it as possible. I’m constantly looking for new recipes that are easy to throw together (all ingredients in one pot) and that can stew or cook away while we’re doing baths and bedtime with the girls. And although I was never a fan of what I would have considered “hippy food” i.e. brown rice, beans, lentils and chickpeas, I have lately rediscovered them and love trying out new ways to prepare them. Found a lovely recipe for spicy chickpea casserole the other day, served it with brown rice and chicken and it was very tasty. I’ll definitely be making it again.

Ingredients for six people

1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp dried oregano
olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 aubergine, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 chicken fillets, cut in bite size pieces
1 can of peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
200 gr of green beans
600ml vegetable stock
Fresh coriander (but I used basil as that was all I had left)

Start by dry-frying the cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan. Add the oregano, remove from the heat and crush in a pestle and mortar. Heat olive oil in a large casserole pan. Cook the onions, red pepper and aubergine for 10 minutes or until softened. Add the crushed spice mixture, together with the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

In a separate pan, fry the chicken pieces in olive oil (I seasoned the chicken first with pepper, salt and paprika powder) until brown and tender.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, green beans and stock to the casserole pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour. Add the chicken pieces just before serving. Garnish with the chopped coriander (or basil). Serve with rice or brown bread.


Meatballs with tomato-pea sauce.


Found this recipe on the internet. Meatballs from Maria Elia out of her book Full of Flavour. First time I made meatballs, because I always assumed you needed eggs in the meat mixture. But this recipe is without eggs or any dairy and works brilliantly. The choice of spices is a bit unusual but works very well. Oh, never thought off taking a picture until I was halfway through my plate. Picture doesn’t look very appetizing but it’s honestly a really taste dish. Maria Elia suggests to serve it with mashed potatoes, but we went with spaghetti instead.

Ingredients for the meatballs

500gr lamb mince
2 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
flour, for dusting
4 tbsp olive oil

To make the meatballs, simply mix the ingredients except the flour and oil together and form into balls. Dust the balls in flour. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and add the meatballs. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Cook until the meatballs are medium-rare in the centre (about 3 minutes, depending on the size).

Ingredients for the pea and tomato sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 can plum tomatoes, crushed
pinch of sugar
1 chicken stock cube
100 gr frozen peas
1 tbsp dried dill
sea salt

For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the tomato puree and cinnamon and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar and crumble in the stock cube. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and dill along with 200ml water and cook for 15 minutes over al low heat. Add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes, adding a little boiling water if the sauce is a little thick. Season with sea salt and serve with spaghetti.