I think Moroccan cuisine is fascinating. This may sound a bit strange as it comes from someone who, to her biggest shame, has never tried Moroccan food made by Moroccan natives (I am yet to discover a Moroccan restaurant in LA). But she has spent countless hours reading Moroccan cookbooks and visualizing the food and therefore, claims that her statement, although bold, is true.
Moroccan food seems to be about colors, spices, unusual flavor combinations, and it is bright and delicious. I have tried a few Moroccan recipes and found the results interesting and exotic.
This delicious chickpea salad is one of my old finds from a Moroccan cookbook I own. I remember falling in love with it at first read. Recently made it for our guests. I think they liked it. Enjoy!
Chickpea Salad with Onions and Paprika
Adapted from”Flavors of Morocco,” by Ghillie Basan
Note: The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. I often omit it or use only a scarce pinch as 1 teaspoon seems a bit much to my taste. But do as your palate wants you to do. Also, remember, the chickpeas must be warm when you add other ingredients to them—this will allow for the chickpeas to absorb all the flavors nicely.
1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
1 medium red onion, cut in half lengthwise, then in half crosswise, and sliced with the grain
4 cloves garlic or to taste, finely chopped
Pinch of ground cumin (optional)
1 teaspoon or to taste, paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Small bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
4 ounces goat cheese, or feta, crumbled (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper
Drain the chickpeas and put them in a deep pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the chickpeas are tender but not mushy. Drain the chickpeas and remove any loose skins—you can rub them in a clean tea towel to remove them, or between your fingers.
Put the warm chickpeas in a bowl. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, and paprika and toss in the olive oil and lemon juice while the chickpeas are still warm, making sure they are well coated.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss in most of the herbs. Crumble over cheese, if using, and sprinkle with the rest of the herbs. Serve while warm with bread.