Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yassa Chickpeas / Yassa Poix Chiche

The time I spent studying abroad in Senegal had a significant impact on how I think about food--in some ways for the worse, but in many ways for the better.  Even though by then I'd lived in a vegetarian co-op house for the better part of two years, it was only after being in Senegal that much of the cultural, geopolitical, and environmental importance of food really hit me--the importance, for example, of being able to choose staples grown nearby rather than imported from S.E. Asia, or the idea that vegetarianism was a choice available to me mostly because of specific cultural (lack of a strong culinary tradition as well as a culture where eating by oneself is acceptable), geographic (what do vegetarians in the desert eat?), and economic (ex. disposable income for more expensive fresh vegetables) factors.

While in Senegal, I ate everything.  My favorite dish was Yassa Poulet, a simple chicken dish that was made with lots of onion and lemon/vinegar.  Someone in Senegal once told me that it actually has Portuguese origins, but a cursory google search does not confirm this.

I used this recipe from congocookbook.com, and I should have looked at others before proceeding, because the amount of vinegar in this recipe was a bit nasty.  I can tell that without this issue the dish would have been delicious, so I've already swapped out the 1/2 c apple cider vinegar for 1/2 c vegetable broth.  Trust me, the lemon juice will be enough--and most of the other yassa recipes I've since found on the internet don't call for vinegar at all.  And also... I don't care how many recipes call for Maggi.  It's just never going to happen.

Yassa Chickpeas
(adapted from congocookbook.com)

3 c cooked chickpeas (or start with 1-1.5 c dried)
4 onions, chopped
1 small cabbage, cut into chunks
3-4 carrots, sliced
2 habanero (or other very spicy) chilies     
3/8 c peanut or other vegetable oil
1/2 c lemon juice
1/2 c vegetable stock
1-2 bay leaves
4 cloves minced garlic
2 TB Dijon mustard
2 TB tamari
cayenne pepper or red pepper, black pepper, salt (to taste)

1. Combine chickpeas, onions, cabbage, carrots, and chilies in a large baking dish.  Combine remaining ingredients separately and then pour over the vegetables.  Toss gently to mix.
2. Cover dish and allow to sit for 4+ hours.
3. Bake first covered, then uncovered at a low temperature until vegetables are very tender and liquid has mostly evaporated.  OR simmer partially covered in a skillet until same results are achieved.
4. Serve with rice or couscous/millet.

No comments: