The texture of the eggplant and chickpeas go so well together, and the sweetness of the dates and apricots blend perfectly with the cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and turmeric. Just thinking about it makes me smile. Eggplants protect the brain by fighting free radicals, and chickpeas help lower the risk of colon problems. (According to Norman Walker, it’s all about the colon!)

Iranian Eggplant and Chickpea Stew with Coconut-Almond Sauce [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

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Serves

4

Cooking Time

70

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Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil*
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped (again, if using organic garlic you may want to reduce the amount)
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3.5 ounces ground almonds
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime/lemon
  • Salt to taste

For the Spice Mix:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

For the Stew:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil*
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 medium eggplants, chopped in square inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped (when using organic garlic, reduce to 2 or 3)
  • 1 green pepper, diced finely
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3.5 ounces cooked chickpeas
  • 5.3 ounces roasted cashews
  • 3.5 ounces dried apricots
  • 3.5 ounces dates, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1½ cup tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
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Preparation

  1. If roasting the cashews, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Stir. Place in oven for 3 minutes. Check if done.
  2. For the coconut-almond sauce: Gently fry the onion in the coconut oil until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and fry very gently. (Make sure the onion and garlic don't brown as this will ruin the color of the sauce)
  4. Add the spices and stir into the onion mixture.
  5. If roasting the cashews, place in oven for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut milk, water, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  7. Take cashews out of the oven and stir. Place back into oven for 3 minutes.
  8. Take sauce off heat and remove cinnamon stick.
  9. Add ground almonds, lime/lemon zest and juice, and a pinch of salt.
  10. Let cool. (You will be blending this sauce later, but first you must allow the sauce to cool otherwise it will explode the top of the blender off and you will have a coconut-almond sauce painted kitchen.)
  11. Meanwhile, prepare the stew. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil (olive oil may be substituted).
  12. Fry onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir-fry for a couple minutes. (DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC) Add the green pepper and orange juice, stir well. Fry until the pepper is soft.
  13. Transfer the mixture to a large pot and add cooked chickpeas, chopped apricots, chopped dates, diced tomatoes. tomato ketchup, chopped eggplant, lemon juice, coriander (reserve some coriander for the garnish), salt and lots of black pepper. Mix well.
  14. Cover with lid and, stirring occasionally, simmer for 20 minutes or until eggplant is soft.
  15. Blend the sauce that you let cool until smooth.
  16. Serve stew with couscous or rice and the coconut-almond sauce. Top the stew with roasted/toasted cashews and leftover coriander.

Notes

This recipe tastes best when made a day before serving because then the spices will really be able to "soak in". If you didn't plan in advance, however, you can make this recipe and serve immediately. Just be sure to start by preparing the sauce. *The coconut oil may be substituted by olive oil, but coconut oil is preferred.

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