Chicken-Chickpea Harira

September 16, 2010

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Boulder and Seattle. Boulder because as I read about the Fourmile Canyon fire, I wonder if the house we lived in on that very road is still standing. I hope it is, it was a gem that house. Aside from a rather insane landlord, pipes that would constantly freeze in the winter, windows as thick as saran wrap and speckled peach walls that we weren’t allowed to paint, we had ourselves a nice little rustic cabin. Just three miles from town, off the road to Nederland, lay our house nestled between a mountain and a creek, complete with a hot tub, fire pit and hammock. For all its pluses and minuses, I love having experienced a different way of living, although there’s something to be said for a house where the color peach is nowhere to be found.

Seattle has been on my mind ever since we roasted a chicken the other night. It was our first attempt and I’m proud to say, was even more succulent and flavorful than the pre-roasted ones we’d get from the market near our apartment in Capitol Hill. We just have to perfect the crispy skin. Those were good nights in the Pacific Northwest, eating roast chicken, mashed potatoes and salad, watching the cold damp air envelop the city from our apartment perched high above it all.

My fondest memories of our time out there revolve around food. The smoked salmon crepes at the shop on Olive Way, the Whoopie Pie at Oddfellows, buying fresh mussels and crab legs at Pikes Market for our Christmas Eve dinner, Fish & Chips and IPAs, a cup of black coffee and a cream filled donut on a rainy day at Top Pot, the sandwiches at Salumi that feature the sophisticated simplicity of artisan pork. My dad says garlic is God’s herb, and after my experience at Salumi, I’d go so far as to say that pork, is God’s meat.

But I digress. I originally came here to tell you about Chicken-Chickpea Harira but have since become distracted by thoughts of wildfires and lingering memories. I made this soup with some of the leftover chicken from our roasting experiment and it was so delicious. Earthy, sweet and just a little bit spicy, if I had some fresh lemon I would’ve squeezed a bit in each bowl to add a touch of lightness. The recipe has you cook the chicken in the soup pot, but if you’re trying to use up leftovers like I was, it hardly tastes lacking. Perfect for the chilly fall nights that are right around the corner, or so they tell me they are, as I’m still waiting to retire the tank tops and flip flops.

Chicken-Chickpea Harira

Adapted from American Masala by Suvir Saran

Serves 8

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp ground peppercorns

5 cloves

A 1-inch piece cinnamon stick

2 red onions, finely diced

1 1/2 pounds chicken thigh meat, cut into small cubes

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

3 medium tomatoes, cores and diced

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cups canned chopped tomatoes

3 cups water

1/2 tsp saffron threads, finely ground

1 tsp toasted cumin

1/2 tsp Garam masala or curry powder

1/4 chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat the oil with the ground peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until soft, 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken and cook until the meat releases it’s liquid and the pan dries, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Mix in the turmeric, cayenne, and salt and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook until they release their juices, about 3 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the chickpeas, canned tomatoes, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes. Stir in the saffron, toasted cumin, Garam masala, and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

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