I originally created this recipe for cinnamon-spiced chickpea and lentil stew as a vegan entrée to serve for the Jewish holiday of Purim, an occasion that’s more focused on sweets and treats than savory dishes.
Because part of the story of Purim takes place in Persia (present-day Iran), it seems fitting to incorporate traditional Persian flavorings and spices into a main dish for this festive holiday. Cinnamon, a beloved spice in Persian cuisine, for example, isn’t used in savory dishes as much as it deserves to be — it adds a warm, subtly complex flavor to this stew.
Like all satisfying stews, this one relies on your own palate and sense of flavor to adjust seasonings. Cinnamon and cumin are must-haves, but there’s an array of other optional spices that you can experiment with.
Of course, you need not save this dish for any particular special occasion. It’s an easy-to-prepare dish that will warm you up on any chilly fall or winter night.
Photos by Evan Atlas
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- One 28-ounce can or two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups cooked lentils (or two 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (try fire-roasted)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin, to taste
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- Optional seasonings, to taste (see in Notes)
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 1/4 cup dry red wine, optional but highly recommended
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, and optional seasonings described in the note, below. Turn up the heat; when the mixture starts to bubble, turn the heat down.
- Add the zucchini and optional wine. Cover and simmer gently with the cover ajar for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender but not overdone.
- Season with salt and pepper and add a pinch of dried hot red pepper flakes if you’d like a bit more heat.
- Stir in the parsley and serve in shallow bowls. You can also let the stew stand off the heat for 30 minutes or so to let the flavors deepen a bit more.
To enhance the traditional Persian seasonings in this dish, you can also add a pinch of any or all of the following: ground cloves, cardamom, and coriander. You can also add some grated fresh ginger and/or a few threads of saffron.
This recipe and accompanying story original ran on The Jewish Food Experience. Reprinted by arrangement.