A little escapism....

If you're missing the feelings of wind in your hair, sun in your face and sand in your everything,a little escapism is what you need. Al-Gharb, means "The West” in Arabic and al-Gharb was the term that gave rise to the present day word Algarve, literally the western lands south of the Iberican peninsular.The cuisine of the indigenous Berbers is highly adapted today in classic Portuguese dishes, giving us a blend of traditions that puts delicious slow cooked stews and tagines on the table.Combine an Arab sensibility with a European recipe, using store cupboard ingredients, and you pretty much have casa rosada´s modern take on the truly Moroccan kitchen.This´ll get you dreaming of your next trip down south.This easy lentil stew is just that. Spice packed full of Moroccan-inspired flavours and only requires a handful of ingredients to put a wholly satisfying dinner on the table.As if that wasn't appealing enough, you may also be pleased to learn that it doesn't require a whole host of ingredients either. In fact, chances are you'll already have most of them in your cupboard – and could easily substitute anything that might be missing.This could be a great alternative to fighting for (seemingly non-existent) food delivery slots.The other plus of this dish is its versatility.
In its basic form this dish can be eaten by everyone, vegetarian, vegan or meat fiends alike and delicious it is too.
For the trick, while it is cooking, roast some chicken breasts in the oven. When ready to serve, remove half the sauce to another pan and stir through the chicken roughly sliced and chopped up into large pieces.
Moroccan lentil Stew with roasted chickpeas
Serves 4

4 green peppers
1 large onion

4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp pimenton dulce ( sweet paprika)
2 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp ras al hanout
Plum tomatoes, 400 grams (could substitute tinned if you don't have fresh)
Tbsp harissa paste 
Red lentils, 100 grams
500ml good quality vegetable stock
200ml carton coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Ground sumac, one teaspoon (combine salt and lemon zest for an alternative)
1 tin of chickpeas

Grill the green peppers close under a pre-heated grill, turning frequently until blackened and blistered all over.Put them in a plastic bag and knot it. Leave to cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin. Remove the stem and seeds and cut the peppers into strips.The strips should be about thirds of each pepper.Reserve.
While the peppers are cooking, peel the onions and garlic and process in a food processor or chop them finely by hand.Put the olive oil in a pan and fry the onion-garlic mush until soft,sprinkling some salt over the top to stop it catching.
While the onions soften, Combine the vegetable stock with the coconut milk and tomato puree (this will form the base of your sauce).Set aside.
Once the onion has softened, add the sugar, paprika, ras al hanout, cumin and cook for one to two mins or until fragrant. Rinse the red lentils and add them to the pan with the coconut stock.Add the cooked peppers, tomatoes and harissa paste.Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 25 to 30 min or until the lentils are cooked and the sauce has thickened – this is your Moroccan lentil stew.While the stew thickens, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Then, add the chickpeas to a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle over the sumac and give everything a good mix up. Put the tray in the oven ( 220°C/ 200°C (fan)/ 425°F/ Gas 7) for 15 to 20 min or until golden and crispy – these are your roasted chickpeas.
Serve the Moroccan lentil stew in bowls, topped with the roasted chickpeas and sprigs of mint.


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