Berbere Spiced Chickpea Soup
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Contains Nuts, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Coeliacs
Rick Stein has very kindly allowed us to share this recipe with you from his book Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey in which he has mentioned us as a supplier of spices. Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey is an ambitious journey, avoiding the beaten track and tourist hot-spots, in search of the authentic food of Southeast Asia. In this accompanying book to the major BBC series, Rick shares his favourite recipes and some well-known classic dishes inspired by the fragrant ingredients and recipes he sampled from local chefs, family-run restaurants, street vendors and market stalls.
If you can get them, use finger aubergines for this. They are shaped rather like a small courgette and hold their shape well during cooking. This is a simple curry, but interesting to me as it uses a lot of fennel seeds, a common flavour in Bangladeshi food. Incidentally, they call them aniseed there, but they are not, because I wandered into a kitchen in Sylhet and tried them. All through India, as indeed in some Indian restaurants in the UK, sugarcoated fennel seeds are offered at the end of a meal as a breath-freshener and digestive aid.
Top and tail the aubergines and cut in half lengthways. If using larger Mediterranean-style aubergines, then cut each one across in half and then each piece lengthways into 6 or 8 wedges. Toss them with half teaspoon of salt and set aside in a colander for 10 minutes.
Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Pour the oil into a shallow dish. Brush the aubergine pieces, a few at a time, with oil, put them in the frying pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until richly browned. Cooking the aubergines in this way helps prevent them from absorbing too much oil, which would make the finished dish greasy. Set aside in a bowl and repeat with the remaining aubergines.
Put the ginger, garlic and chilli into a mini food processor with 2 to 3 tablespoons water and grind to a smooth paste.
Put 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil into the frying pan and add the cumin and fennel seeds. Leave them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add the ginger and garlic paste and leave this to fry for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coriander and turmeric and fry for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, black pepper, 3 tablespoons water and half teaspoon salt. Cover and leave to simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until reduced and thickened slightly.
Return the fried aubergine slices to the pan and stir well to coat in the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the fresh coriander and mint and serve.
Copyright- Rick Stein, recipe extracted from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey.