Wednesday, February 10, 2010


As a kid, I used to love mixing watercolor paints, inventing bold new colors, and sometimes just making a mess on the page. As an almost-adult, a palette of (and a palate for) spices has replaced my watercolor collection, and thanks to a gift from my dear friend Zahra, I now have a new source of inspiration for my taste compositions: "Spice," a cookbook by Ana Sortun, the chef/owner of my favorite restaurant in Cambridge, Oleana. (Mom, remember that meal??) Her approach to the cuisines of Turkey, Morocco, and the Arabic tradition in general, is totally exciting and accessible.

The problem with me and cookbooks, however, is that I tend to get too excited to wait and try an actual recipe. I flip through the pages, skimming the ingredients and looking at the pictures, until my impatience and food fervor takes hold of me and I am compelled to do some improv cooking with what I have at hand. It's sort of my way of welcoming a new cookbook into my life.

So, this snowy morning, drawing inspiration from Ana, I cooked a pot of chickpeas, mixed a spice blend of my own, and made a salty, addictive snack food that will knock those old wasabi peas right off your shelf!

Crunchy Chickpeas

3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
3 whole cardamom pods, outer green shells removed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2. Set a dry saute pan over high heat. Once hot, add the cumin, coriander, cardamom and peppercorns. Swirl the pan around until the seeds are fragrant but not toasted or burnt. Remove to a spice/coffee grinder, let cool, and grind to a fine powder.

3. Add the spice mixture to a small bowl and mix in the turmeric, olive oil, and salt.

4. In a large bowl, mix the chickpeas and spice paste until the chickpeas are evenly coated. Pour out onto the baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring the chickpeas every 10 minutes or so to ensure they roast evenly. Enjoy these as a garnish for a grain pilaf, or on their own as a healthy snack.

I want to know: What's your favorite spice mix?


Genevieve said...

Hi Evie-do! My spicy chickpeas are in the oven as I type, I'm so excited to try them and bring them tomorrow for my lunch club. Just a question- I know you're crazy-busy with work, but if you get a chance, do you think you could post the equivalent measurements of the spices if I were to use already-ground spices? I don't have a spice/coffee grinder and don't make these things as often as you do. Thanks and I love all the yummy food on here- maybe I can come and try some soon!! <3 Genna

Genevieve said...

The reason I ask for the equivalent measurements is because I used the measurements already up there for already-ground spices and I don't know if I was supposed to do that (I'm thinking not, esp. for the cardamom)...

Evie said...

If you're using pre-ground spices, I would say just use the same measurements I put there, because there won't be much of a difference (and blending spices is definitely not a science, but an art!) and for the cardamom, use 1/2 teaspoon ground - that should be about the same as 3 seeds.
I hope your chickpeas come out great! Let me know how it goes!