Lent was very important when I was growing up, because I studied in a Catholic nun’s school, and my mom was deeply religious. There were many traditions surrounding this sacred time, such as processions, prayers, mass… Children were not allowed to play, and we thought it was the worst season of the year, far too boring and far too long. On Good Friday, my grandmother forbade us to take a shower because we were going to be transformed into some kind of fish (and that made me dream of becoming a mermaid… which was actually quite appealing!) Music, TV and any other kind of entertainment were banned from our lives during these weeks. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
In Peru there are many typical dishes to enjoy during Lent, but one of my favorites is this garbanzo –or chickpea- stew, full of flavor, and providing a lot of energy and satisfaction during these days of low, or zero meat consumption. Sometimes, salted-dried cod is added, but then it is a completely different dish.
As you can imagine, in Peru we start with raw garbanzos, but we don’t expect everyone to share our love of slow cooking. To prepare this stew you can make good use of the very practical canned chickpeas, cooked and ready in minutes. Make it as thick or thin as you prefer, and if you want to make it heartier, add some potatoes, diced carrots and some celery. The official side dish is rice, but good, crusty bread will work perfectly fine with this.
The first time I cooked garbanzos, my love for rosemary was bigger than my good sense, so I added several good size sprigs. Do I need to say that my stew was completely inedible? Too much of a good thing doesn´t mean it will be better. Be wise and use rosemary sparingly, or substitute with oregano, thyme or parsley.
How do you celebrate Lent?
- *2 cans chickpeas
- *1/2 medium red onion, chopped
- *2 garlic cloves, chopped
- *1 tomato, chopped
- *1/2 chili pepper, chopped
- *Bunch chard leaves, cut in strips
- *Sprig of rosemary
- *Oil for cooking, salt and pepper
- *1 litre water
- *Rinse the chickpeas very well, to take the canned flavor away.
- *Sautee the onion, garlic, chili and tomato for about 5 minutes, at medium-high heat.
- *Add the chickpeas and rosemary, keep sauteeing for a couple minutes more, and then add water and bring to a boil.
- *Cook for 20 minutes. 10 minutes before it’s ready, add the chard stems and season with salt and pepper.
- *When it’s ready, turn the heat off and add the chard leaves. Move until they are cooked.
- *Serve with rice, or a good crusty bread.