chickpeas and cauliflower tagine

Tagine is a Middle Eastern method of cooking (mostly stews) in an earthenware pot.  The technique dates to the 9thCentury and was even mentioned in “A Thousand and One Nights”.  The desert dwellers, Bedouins and nomadic tribes in North Africa, are well known for their addition of dried fruits and mint to their tagines.

The conical shape ensures that the food inside is kept exceptionally moist while cooking.  Since the base is wide and shallow, the pointed lid on top acts like a chimney for the steam to evaporate but as it does, the condensation trickles back down the cone and that’s what keeps the food moist as it cooks.

Chickpeas and spinach are noteworthy ingredients that pair superbly well.  The addition of mint here is a must, as it delivers the Mediterranean punch of authenticity.  The dish calls for fresh chickpeas – but you can also use canned and preparation and cooking times will be less.

I have utilized a tagine to cook this particular dish, but I’ve found that a Dutch oven works better to deliver the right consistency to the chickpeas when using dried.  By all means employ a tagine taking into consideration its shape, the size of your oven and where it has the best fit for the dish to cook.


1 large onion – finely chopped

6-7 garlic cloves – finely chopped

3 medium sized potatoes – peeled and cubed

3 carrots – peeled and sliced

1 ½ TSP of smoked sweet paprika

2 dried or fresh bay leaves

½ TSP of Harissa

2 cups of dried chickpeas soaked overnight in water and drained prior to cooking

¼ cup of tomato paste (about 2 heaped TBPS)

1 bag of fresh baby spinach

½ TBSP ground coriander

½ TBSP of caraway seeds and ½ TSP of fennel seeds

½ cup of fresh chopped mint

Fresh Greek yogurt

In a large Dutch oven heat some oil and sweat the onions with a pinch of kosher salt.  Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes, then add the dried spices and bay leaves.  Incorporate the chickpeas, cover with water and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add the Harissa and tomato paste and continue simmering for about another hour.  Check to ensure that liquid isn’t evaporating too quickly, if not add a little more water.  This is not a soupy dish and it will cook down to a stew-like consistency.  Before serving, add the mint and spinach and cook for an addition 3 minutes.  Serve over with couscous, rice, quinoa or orzo.


When challenged time constraints, the use of canned chick peas is perfectly fine.  Drain the can of chickpeas and rinse them thoroughly.  Follow the same steps, lessen the cooking time to 45 minutes.  The flavors deepen overnight, so making it the day ahead of time is optimal.

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