Autumn is officially here! Though we have experienced crazy weather the whole of March with rains, thunderstorms, winds, blazing sun and high temperatures. But then, that’s the beauty of Melbourne….four seasons in a day!
The idea of an autumn stew had been brewing in my mind for a while now though I had not decided if I should include meat or keep it vegetarian. Then a friend gifted me a bunch of Rocoto Manzano red chillies which I have never seen or used before in my life. The idea of the autumn stew slowly started to take shape in my head while fiddling with these chillies.
Rocoto Manzano chillies are native to Central and South America especially the regions of Chile and Peru. Being native to these regions, this chilli is used commonly in Mexican cooking. These chillies are medium hot (for me!) and the idea of an Indian inspired stew began to take form in my head.
This stew is healthy and nutritious….proteins from the chickpeas, carbs from the potatoes and a whole lot of nutrients from the red kale. I have also used a generous sprinkling of raw crushed almonds to add to the nutrition factor and texture.
I have used some spices to add a bit of oomph and flavour to the stew, mainly cumin, caraway, cloves and bay leaf. But the real flavour of this autumn stew comes from the chillies…just that right kick of heat to lift the flavours and keep you warm through the cold nights.
Feel free to use any combination of vegetables that you enjoy to eat. Lamb would be a good choice if you want to make a non-vegetarian version; just make sure to adjust the spices accordingly.
So, let’s get cooking this delicious, comforting autumn stew with chickpeas, potatoes and kale with a generous dose of chillies and almonds.
1. 1 cup chickpeas; soaked overnight
2. 1 large potato, diced
3. 3-4 stalks red kale, shredded
4. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
5. ¼ tsp cumin seeds
6. ¼ tsp caraway seeds
7. 2 cloves
8. 1 dried bay leaf
9. 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10. 3 Rocoto Manzano chillies; remove pith and seeds, finely chopped
11. 2 medium red onion, finely chopped
12. 2 tomatoes, freshly pureed
13. Salt, to season
14. ¼ cup crushed skinless almonds
Note – If you do not have these chillies, use any other type or add some chilli flakes instead.
1. In a cast iron pot or deep bottom pan, heat the oil and crackle the whole spices.
2. Add the finely chopped chillies and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes on low heat to get the flavours into the oil.
3. Next, add the chopped onions and sauté till light brown.
4. Then add the pureed tomatoes and sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat and cook for a further 5 minutes.
5. Add the soaked chickpeas, season with salt along with 2 cups of water; bring to boil and then reduce to low heat. Cook covered till the chickpeas are 75% done.
6. Open and add the potatoes; add more water if necessary. Continue to cook on low heat covered till the potatoes are just about done.
7. Finally, add the kale leaves and cook till done.
8. Add the crushed almonds just before serving.
9. Serve warm with bread. (I had it with freshly baked Afghan bread garnished with herbs and chilli flakes.)