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Vegan Stew for Frigid Nights and Cold Days      

In North Carolina, we’re catching the second winter storm to paralyze much of the country this week, but we have been blessed in my house to still have electric power—making it possible to invent this divinely inspired Chickpea Stew with Almond Butter. The first reviews to come in from my husband and friends who received a gift bowl are “Wow!” and “That was really delicious! Do you have a recipe?” Yes, dear ones, I do.

This recipe has some resemblance to African cooking, given the nutty flavor and spices used. No worries if you don’t like super spicey foods, because I don’t either. I spice just enough to be deliciously flavorful without searing the tongue! (If you would like to try a recipe for an amazing Mediterranean-style chickpea soup, see page 119 in Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook, both the paper book and E-book.)

I always use dried beans rather than canned. Canning was a great invention in its time back in the 18th century. Today, the technique allows gardeners and farmers to store fruits and vegetables for the coming winter. It keeps military troops nourished when deployed overseas. While all of this is good, I’m not a fan of industrial canned food for the sake of convenience. According to Ayurveda, freshly cooked food is high in a subtle life force known as prana. Food that has been canned or frozen or that, following cooking, has sat in the refrigerator for several days has much lower prana than does fresh food. From the perspective of Ayurveda, it’s the food with prana that offers the fullest support for vibrant health.

I also avoid canned goods because industrial cans leech chemicals into the food, despite many claims to the contrary. Buyer beware.

It does take a little planning and some extra time to cook legumes from scratch, particularly if you’re making them on the stove top, but it’s well worth the effort. I find canned beans much harder to digest, giving me unseemly “air biscuits,” if get my meaning!

During this week of treacherous weather, I hope you’re managing to stay safe, warm, and well-fed with a pot of healthy and delicious Chickpea Stew with Almond Butter.

 

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CHICKPEA STEW (OR SOUP) WITH ALMOND BUTTER

Preparation time: About 1 hour
Serves 6 to 8

If you prefer soup to stew, start with 7 cups of liquid. As leftovers the next day, the chickpeas will congeal and will require a little additional water when reheating. If you’d like to add a hint of Indian flavor, infuse the stew with some garam masala. You can use kale if you prefer, but I enjoy the red color the Swiss chard stems add. I love the combination of cilantro and lime, which completes this dish with perfection. However, for cilantro haters, try some fresh basil and don’t miss the lime!

3 cups dried chickpeas
6 to 7 cups fresh water or
half fresh stock, if available
1 large onion
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 large or 3 medium carrots
4 to 6 red Swiss chard leaves with stems
½ cup almond butter
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika (and/or garam masala)
2 to 3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 to 4 teaspoons salt
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 large lime

Cook’s Tip: Directions below are for cooking on the stove top. If you wish to cook the chickpeas in a slow cooker, soak them overnight. Rinse well and cook peas for 8 hours. Steam the chard and cook the onion with spices before combining with the chickpeas in the final hour of cooking.

1. Soak the chickpeas for 8 hours or more. Rinse well when ready to cook in a pressure cooker or 6-quart soup pot. Combine the chickpeas with fresh stock or water and bring to high pressure. Remove from heat until the pressure releases and the top can be removed. If cooking in a soup pot, bring the chickpeas and water to a boil; then reduce heat to medium, cover, and continue cooking. You will need about 30 minutes extra cooking time before adding vegetables to ensure the chickpeas get tender in a standard soup pot vs. the pressure cooker.

2. Slice and cook the onion in a sauté pan with coconut oil on medium heat until the onions turn golden. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onions until uniformly brown to caramelize the onion without crisping. Stir frequently.

3. While the onions are cooking, wash and slice the carrots. Wash the chard. Slice the large red stems as if they were celery.

4. When the chickpeas are tender, add the almond butter. Using an immersible blender, puree ½ to ⅓ of the chickpeas while mixing the almond butter into the stew. Add the carrots and chard stems to the soup pot, cover, and continue cooking. Chop the chard leaves into bite-size pieces and add to the pot. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

5. Add the ground spices to the pan of onions. Stir and add the onion/spice mixture to the pot. Add ginger and garlic and stir. Add salt to taste, using less if you cooked the chickpeas in a salted stock. Serve with lots of fresh chopped cilantro and a lime wedge for each bowl

Use ⅛ teaspoon ground asafetida to help digest the chickpeas. Otherwise, be generous with the ginger and garlic.

Reduce the paprika and/or garam masala to ½ teaspoon.

Reduce the almond butter by half.  Increase the paprika, if you wish.

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