This Moroccan chickpea pie is by no means traditional – as I just made it up as I went along. But the inspiration is certainly firmly rooted in the culture and back alleys of Marrakesh. But what it misses in terms of authenticity it makes up for in the fact that it uses ingredients that are readily available and happened to be lying about in my larder at the time.
It all started with the need to come up with a vegetarian recipe that could be cooked in advance, for a large number of people, that could only be reheated (if at all) in a microwave. Or to be precise – a lunch time meal to share with work mates. So it also had to be something that could be easily carried on the back of a bicycle. And last but certainly not least, it had impress – there is nothing wrong with being competitive in the work place is there?
These constrictions certainly narrowed the field down a bit. I quickly ruled out the idea of making a salad, due to the fact that it is mid winter here and salads are always better made fresh, not the night before as I was doing. So my immediate thought was to use chickpeas – for their delicious meaty flavour/texture – and to make some kind of pie as the form of carbs – as this is the best, and most delicious, method of encasing and carrying food. Although this recipe would work just as well with some couscous.
Having decided upon the two main ingredients of my dish, I immediately thought that Moroccan inspired food would be ideal. Not only are chickpeas ideally suited to this amazing cuisine, but the whole idea of easy lunch food made me think of the winding alleyways of Marrakesh and the famous dish cooked in a tangia (Morrocan clay pot used for cooking) by bachelor workmen across the city.
In the mornings before work, men head to the markets where the stall holder will fill a tangia with ingredients usually including meat, onion, garlic, preserved lemon and spices. The workman will then take the tangia to the basement of the nearest hammam (Turkish baths) where the hot embers are used to heat the water. For a small fee the man who stokes the fire will put the tangia into the coals and leave them to cook for hours. It is then collected by the workman at lunch time.
What better way to try and emulate this delectable lunch dish than by making a vegetarian version that is encased in pastry instead of a clay pot – which unfortunately cannot be bought where I live.
Ingredients (serves 8):
Moroccan chickpea pie filling:
- 400g tomatoes (I used canned ones)
- 400g cooked chickpeas (I used canned ones)
- 200g cauliflower
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 carrot
- 8 dried apricots or equivalent raisins
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp ras el hanout spice mix (recipe below)
- 8 tbsp oil (I use coconut or olive oil)
- 1 lemon zest
- salt to taste
- 100g water (1/2 cup)
Ras el hanout recipe:
Don’t be freaked out by the amount of spices in this mix. If you don’t have all of them increase the amount of coriander, cumin and/or paprika these spices are the dominant flavours that you want.
- 4 tsp ground coriander
- 3 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp cardamom seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp paprika
Pastry (shop bought):
- 4 sheets puff pastry
- 1 tbsp melted butter or olive oil
Moroccan chickpea pie filling:
Slice the onions and garlic thinly. Cut the cauliflower, potato and carrot into small even pieces (approx 1 cm²).
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry off the onions and garlic on a medium/low heat until they are translucent (approx 5 minutes).
Add the ras el hanout spice mix and fry for 30 seconds and then add the chopped cauliflower, potato and carrot. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Zest the lemon and cut the dried fruit into small pieces and add them also. Finally add the water and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes. Make sure all of the moisture doesn’t evaporate, if it does add more. But you want the mix to be reasonably thick at the end so it doesn’t ruin your pastry. It should be the same consistency and a pie if you think about it.
Taste and add seasoning to suit. If anything it can be slightly over seasoned – as you want the pie to pack a flavour punch. But this is entirely up to you.
Making the Morrocan chickpea triangles:
Don’t be daunted by this step. As with most techniques it is best to be confident and slightly bullish. The worst thing that can happen is that you have a pastry that has the filling spilling out, which isn’t all that bad. The main mistake you can make is over filling your pastry.
Slice the pastry square diagonally through the middle. Heap about 4 heaped tablespoons of the moroccan chickpea filling in the middle. If you look at the picture above, please be aware that this is not the way to place your mixture! I have drawn in blue dotted lines where you should aim to have you mixture. Don’t make the same mistake I did!
Fold over the triangle (through the dotted line). You can slightly rearrange the mixture to get it fitting right or taking some out if you over filled it. Clamp down the edge using a fork – as pictured.
Brush the pastry in butter or olive oil (you can also use milk if you wish) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200ºC for about 30 minutes until they are golden brown.
I served with a mint yoghurt sauce. But they are nice with a tomato sauce as well.