‘The Stew’

We live in crazy times. As I was queuing around the block to get into the supermarket the other day there was – I swear, I’m not making this up* – a spiv. We’re talking a full on 1940’s wideboy: a duck’s arse haircutted, trilby wearing, pinstriped profiteer standing (at a safe distance) next to the dog track, leaning almost suggestively on a bollard and smoking a gasper. People seemed to be reacting to this with a kind of measured indifference, which I found strange. Nevertheless, he caught my eye, and peeled open one side of his beige trench coat to reveal a half dozen cans of chickpeas. “Two bob a pop” he mouthed to me across the carpark.

Anyway, I like a chickpea as much as the next chap. I’ve got a Drama and English degree – I existed for much of my late teens/early twenties on hummus and own-label lager. Sometimes I make my own falafel. I have even been known to even buy dried chickpeas, soak them overnight and cook them for hours. It is (just about) worth the effort. However, I will never accept that chickpea water** is good for anything other than pouring down the drain.

As suspicious as I am of chickpea water, I am more suspicious of definite articles. Nothing good can come from referring to something as ‘the’. Let’s use the indefinite article and all live happily ever after. It’s not ‘the’ bag of crisps. It’s ‘a’ bag of crisps. Don’t @ me.***

All this aside, Alison Roman’s recipe for chickpea stew is pretty glorious. I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and it’s quickly become a firm midweek favourite. It’s incredibly simple, rich, flavoursome, hearty and comfortable.

Some thoughts:

  • The cheaper the coconut milk the better. Honestly. No idea why.
  • Kale is the best green veg I’ve used. Something about the gnarly bits soaking up the sauce.
  • My only addition to the recipe is a spritz of lime at the end for acidity.
  • All I serve it with are these flatbreads, which are insanely easy and good.

So yes. A chickpea stew. Very good lockdown fare.

Only thing I’d have done differently would have been to finish it with some fresh coriander, but the spiv didn’t have any.

*I am, of course, making this up.

**I refuse to call it aquafaba – it sounds like a word that Boris Jonson has made up to describe the lunacy of nationalising the water industry.

*** I saw this on a meme and trust I’ve used it in the right context?

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