Tunisian Chickpea & Lentil Stew Recipe

Serves 4
Preparation time 15 minutes, plus overnight soaking
Cooking time about 2¼ hours


200 g (7 oz) dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 celery stick, finely diced
2 small carrots, peeled and finely diced
pinch of saffron threads
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
125 g (4 oz) green lentils, rinsed
2 tablespoons tomato purée
750 ml (1¼ pints) lamb or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
3–4 tablespoons chopped parsley, to garnish
harissa (see right for homemade), to serve


tunisian chickpea
Put the chickpeas in a bowl, add cold water to cover by 10 cm (4 inches) and leave to soak overnight.

Drain the chickpeas, rinse under running cold water and drain again. Place the chickpeas in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for about 1 hour or until tender, adding more water as necessary. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots and cook for 15 minutes, or until softened, stirring frequently. Add the spices and cook for 1–2 minutes, then increase the heat and add the chickpeas, lentils and tomato purée. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 40–45 minutes.

Spoon the cooked pulses and vegetables into serving bowls and carefully pour the liquid around the side. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with harissa, to taste.

For homemade harissa, soak 25 g (1 oz) dried red chillies in boiling water for 4 hours. Put 1½ tablespoons cumin seeds, 2 teaspoons caraway seeds and 1 tablespoon coriander seeds in a small frying pan and dry-fry until fragrant. Grind to a powder in a mini chopper. Add the soaked chillies, 3 garlic cloves, 100 g (3½ oz) roasted peppers, 2 tablespoons tomato purée, 1 tablespoon aged sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and just enough olive oil to make a paste. Blend until smooth, then store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 2–3 weeks.

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