Sometimes I find myself in a rut, eating mainly Indian or Mexican food over and over again. These Moroccan chickpeas in spicy tomato sauce is a welcome alternative!
Served with a side of fluffy, chewy buckwheat groats, tossed in a dressing infused with Ras-el-Hanout spice mix, you’re sorted for a balanced weeknight meal. You’ll even have leftovers for your work or school lunches.
What makes this dish Moroccan?
I’m not going to claim that this dish is authentically Moroccan! I’ve never been to the country, nor have I got Moroccan heritage. I’m just a massive foodie who likes to experiment with different cuisines.
Moroccan food makes use of lots of fragrant spices and staples of the Mediterranean diet, like tomatoes, olives, olive oil, beans and lentils, and nuts.
This dish uses lots of Mediterranean ingredients. The sauce is made up of tomatoes and a bunch of vegetables like aubergine, courgette, and peppers, as well as a healthy dose of chickpeas.
The buckwheat is tossed in a mouth-watering fragrant dressing, using Ras-el-Hanout spice – a famously Moroccan spice blend.
What is Ras-el-Hanout?
Ras-el-Hanout is a spice blend that originates from North Africa.
It’s made up using cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, turmeric, and cardamom. This delicate blend is aromatic and packs a little punch of heat (but it’s totally palatable for those who like it mild). If you want to take it up a notch, you should add in some extra chilli.
You can make your own blend, but for ease I’ve used a supermarket one for this recipe (specifically the brand Al’Fez).
The dressing for the buckwheat is acidic and sweet at the same time, which really complements the mild spice and savouriness of the tomato chickpeas. It’s so warming and comforting.
How do I make these Moroccan chickpeas?
You might have taken one look at the ingredients list and gone, “Whoa, that’s too much!” Don’t be scared off! Once you’ve done all your chopping, the rest takes care of itself really. It’s a fairly hands-off dish, and it’s super quick to make.
To start off, you’ll chop all the vegetables (we’ve got onion, carrot, pepper, courgette, aubergine, and garlic). It’ll look like a lot at first when you begin to add each vegetable to the pan, but they’ll cook down – especially the aubergine!
Then toss in the various spices (similar to the ones in Ras-el-Hanout) and cook for a couple more minutes before adding two tins of chopped tomatoes and a squeeze of tomato puree. Mix it all together thoroughly and leave to simmer for around 20-30 minutes.
In the meantime, you’ll cook your buckwheat. This is easy – you just rinse the buckwheat, toast it (optional, but adds flavour), and boil in water for 15-20 minutes.
While everything is simmering away, make the dressing for the buckwheat with Ras-el-Hanout, extra virgin olive oil, sweetener (honey works best and is most authentic), and chopped fresh coriander.
When the tomato sauce is thickened, chuck in the chickpeas for another 5-10 minutes and then serve, nice and hot!
Can I substitute the buckwheat?
Of course! If you can’t tolerate or just don’t like buckwheat, then you’ve got loads of options.
Traditionally, Moroccan dishes are served with sides like cous cous, but of course that isn’t gluten-free. You can find gluten-free cous cous made of maize, which is the closest alternative.
You can use quinoa or pasta too, or even a nice gluten-free pitta.
How long do these Moroccan chickpeas keep for?
These Moroccan chickpeas keep for around 5 days in the fridge.
The great thing about throwing a pile of veg into your dinners is that it makes it go a lot further. I originally thought this recipe would serve 2, but it stretched to 5 when I dished it up, so it’s ended up being really cheap to make and perfect for a week full of work or uni lunches!
If you like this recipe, please check out my recipe for spicy chickpeas in tomato sauce, served on a baked sweet potato!
Before you dive into this recipe, you’ll need my tutorial for how to cook buckwheat – it’s perfectly fluffy every single time!
Moroccan Chickpeas with Fragrant Buckwheat
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium aubergine, diced
- 1 medium courgette, diced
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or normal chilli powder)
- 2x 400g tins tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
- 2 handfuls raw spinach leaves
- 1 cup buckwheat groats, uncooked
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp ras-el-hanout spice mix
- 2 tsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup or agave - or honey if not vegan)
- 2 tbsp chopped coriander
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Follow the How To Cook Buckwheat instructions (link above recipe). Once your buckwheat is simmering covered, fry the onion, pepper and carrot in oil in a pan on a medium heat. This should take around 8-10 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes to release its aroma.
- Add in the aubergine and courgettes and cook for another 5-7 minutes until softened slightly.
- Toss in all the spices from cumin to cayenne and cook for a minute, stirring everything until it is well combined.
- Add in the tinned tomatoes and tomato puree, thoroughly mix everything again, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to thicken for around 20-25 minutes.
- By this time, your buckwheat should be ready to fluff up. Mix up your dressing using ingredients from Extra Virgin olive oil onwards, and toss through the buckwheat. Keep warm.
- When the tomato sauce has thickened, add the drained chickpeas and spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- When it has thickened, remove from the heat and divide between bowls, pairing with the dressed buckwheat.