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Chickpeas In Eggplant Tahini Sauce

In this unusual dish, the inspiration has been the Tunisian kitchen, where chickpeas are a staple, and tabil -- a mixture of caraway seeds, coriander seeds and hot chile pepper -- is the much loved equivalent of India's curry blend. As the chickpeas become tender, the eggplant is cooked down to a puree that becomes the sauce. Bulgur wheat adds chewy substance and tahini (sesame seed paste) gives the stew a nutty richness. Be sure to include the Tomato-Cucumber Salad garnish, which brings lively crunch and color to the stew.

Type: Vegetables
Courses: Soup
Serves: 6 people

Recipe Ingredients

2 cups 474mlChickpeas - picked over, and
  Rinsed, soaked overnight in ample water
  To cover
1 tablespoon 15mlOlive oil
1 cup 62g / 2.2ozCoarsely-chopped onion
3 1/2 cups 829mlWater
1/3 cup 78mlCoarse bulgur
1 teaspoon 5mlCaraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon 2.5mlCrushed red pepper flakes - plus more to taste
2 lbs 908g / 32ozEggplant - peeled, and
  Cut into 1" chunks - (8 cups)
3 tablespoons 45mlTomato paste
2 tablespoons 30mlTahini
1/2 cup 118mlHot or boiling water
2   Garlic cloves - (to 3) - pressed
2 teaspoons 10mlGround coriander seeds - plus more to taste
1 1/4 teaspoons 6.3mlSalt - or to taste
  Tomato Cucumber Salad
3 cups 187g / 6.6ozDiced plum tomatoes - (abt 1 lb)
2 cups 292g / 10ozDiced peeled seeded cucumber
1/4 cup 59mlFresh lemon juice
1/2 cup 8g / 0.3ozChopped cilantro or parsley
1 teaspoon 5mlSalt

Recipe Instructions

Drain chickpeas and set aside. Heat oil in cooker over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water, reserved chickpeas, bulgur, caraway seeds, and red pepper flakes. Set eggplant on top.

Lock lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Lower heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 16 minutes. While stew is cooking, blend tomato paste and tahini into hot water. Set aside.

Make the Tomato-Cucumber Salad: In a large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumbers, lemon juice, cilantro, and salt. Set aside.

After 16 minutes, quick-release pressure. Remove lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. Set cooker over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste mixture, garlic, 2 teaspoons coriander and salt to taste.

Stir well. If necessary, mash eggplant pieces against the sides of cooker and blend them in to create a thick, creamy sauce. Add more red pepper flakes and additional coriander, if needed. Cook over medium heat until garlic loses its raw edge, about 3 minutes.

Ladle stew into large, shallow bowls and sprinkle on a liberal portion of the Tomato-Cucumber Salad. Pass the remaining salad at the table.

This recipe yields 6 servings.

Per serving: 400 cal.; 18g prot.; 10g total fat (1g sat. Fat); 66g carb.; 0 chol.; 896mg sod.; 16g fiber.

Tips: If you use the long, thin Japanese eggplant, you don't have to peel it. Opt for seedless cucumber or kirbies, which you don't have to seed.

Vegetarian Times, January 1999


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