This recipe is a combination of the Middle Eastern Chick Pea Stew from Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Cookery and the Nine Spice Mix from Reem Kassis’s The Palestinian Table.
A week or two before Christmas last year I saw this letter in the agony-aunt section of a paper that I haven’t been able to forget. It was about this woman whose whole extended family were going to her vegan daughter’s home for the festive dinner. And the letter was asking how oh how can we let her know that none of us like her spicy food?
I felt so very bad for that daughter. Imagine catering for all your siblings, their families and your parents. And then imagine the hundred or so passive aggressive insults and remarks made on your cooking. “Oh wow. *cough* You’ve really packed a lot of flavour into this.”, “You really have a special palate.”, “I wish I had your stomach!”.
Vegan Daughter had invited them around solely because the ones that would normally host Christmas couldn’t. She was doing them a favour so they would still all be together over the holidays. And the letter made it sound like the mother, and in fact the whole family, was dreading it.
I didn’t read the response. My response would probably not be suitable for print.
But who knows maybe it all went well and the day passed enjoyably and without incident. It sounds like the start of a play though, doesn’t it?
What does this have to do with a Chickpea Stew?
So the first thing I thought when I read the letter was “That poor woman!” – as in Vegan Daughter. And the next thing I thought was “That family would probably love many of the recipes from Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Cookery.”
I love spice – but for years I didn’t. This book is one of the vegetarian cookbooks I got when I was vegetarian in my teens. I don’t think I cooked anything from it then. I was pretty much the world’s worst vegetarian. Lived on peas, mash and frozen vegetarian convenience food. And that was when I was being healthy. Terrible.
But years later when I started cooking I made a few recipes from this cookbook and discovered they are perfect for people who love rich savoury flavours that have little or no spice.
The Middle Eastern Chick Pea Stew in Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Cookery is vegan and it is such a comforting dish. It’s just so buttery – without having any butter in it. It’s really really nice and simple.
So why did I add some spice to it? Two reasons. One, the 9 spice mix is full of flavour without packing any heat. There is a little bit of black pepper in it. But apart from that it’s just this earthy, sweet and flavourful mix of spices that adds depth rather than heat to a dish.
If you were looking to gently coax a fussy eater to try something “spicy”, introducing them to some Nine Spice Mix would probably be a good way to start.
To be honest I kinda wish I could just buy the mix in the supermarket. Hint. Hint.
Two, in the Levantine Lamb Stew, which also uses Nine Spice Mix, I mentioned wanting to try making some vegan version of that using chickpeas. And I think this could be the vegan version of that recipe.
Please forgive my talking about the Israel-Palestine conflict below. I felt obliged to since I had mentioned it in the Levantine Lamb Stew. I know my simplistic way of talking about things can be very grating – especially if you have in-depth knowledge and nuanced opinions on the matter.
Supporting Just Policies
In the Levantine Lamb Stew post I spoke very briefly about recognising Israel and Palestine’s equal claim to the city of Jerusalem.
I don’t know enough about the situation to properly comment about it. Since then I did listen to The Palestine-Israel Conflict by Dan Cohn-Sherlock and Dawoud El-Alami on Audible – which I’d recommend if you want to get a better understanding of the conflict. I still don’t know enough but I at least have a bit more knowledge about it now.
In Ireland we currently have a bill passing through our houses of parliament called Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018. The bill proposes to make it an offence for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances.
Israel occupies some Palestinian territory without any internationally recognised legal basis for doing so. The Occupied Territories bill if passed into law could be used to stop importation of Israeli products while they continue to occupy Palestinian territories.
I support this legislation and I hope it will become law. I support its use in relation to the occupation of Palestinian lands. And although it may be difficult to implement, I could see it in the future applying to other situations where some other country occupies another country’s territory.
I think that many Israelis, and possibly the majority of the Jewish diaspora too, view the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel as being both caused by and causing growing anti-semitism in the world.
If someone had said this to me at the start of 2016 I would have dismissed what they were saying as reductive nonsense. However, since the Brexit vote in June 2016 I now read a much wider range of views and news online. I also read comment sections. And it has been pretty awful to see just how alive and well anti-semitism is in our world.
And perhaps even if I hadn’t starting reading more diverse opinions I would still have noticed the reemergence of anti-semitism. Thinking of Charlottesville where Nazi slogans were openly chanted, it’s hard to think of a more blatant example.
But having paid a bit more attention to what’s going on, it’s easy to think of less blatant examples too. For instance the marchers kicked out of a Chicago Pride Parade for carrying a Pride flag emblazoned with the Star of David or people who boycott “Israel” by boycotting busineses that they believe have “connections” to Israel. The sad thing is the people who do this really believe they are making a stand against injustice and they don’t see this action as being anti-semitic. It is anti-semitic.
I support the Occupied Territories Bill because it is clear what it is against – it is against the illegal occupation of another state’s land. It is saying this is wrong and we won’t support it. And I applaud that.
I do boycott products that are labelled Product of Israel. I have done so since the Gaza flotilla raid. But I won’t boycott products that are from countries other than Israel – because someone has told me that the business supports Israel. I am not getting into any of that. It sounds like a slippery slope to me.
I hope that a lasting peace can be reached between Palestine and Israel. I remember how amazing it seemed in the 1990s when the Oslo Peace Accords were signed. It was like something impossible could actually be.
Something impossible could actually be. Tear down the walls. Give back the Occupied Territories. I don’t know how but something impossible could actually be. Let it be.
I do support the Occupied Territories Bill. I have reservations about the BDS movement. Its focus is too wide and undefined.
I support the Palestinian people. I support the Israeli people also.
I know it’s very clumsy to speak about such serious issues in a recipe post. I felt I had to. This is also the second time I’ve done this now. I am sorry. I hope no one out there is offended.