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Cheers for Chickpeas!

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I love creating good food, even when away from home. So when we furnished the Butterfly Loft we included a slow cooker, my winter go-to gadget, so guests can do so too if they wish.

And as I write this on a foully cold, wet, dark January day I am cooking a chickpea curry in the slow cooker. Delicious aromas are drifting towards me and I can’t wait for teatime!

Curried chickpeas

Chickpeas are a great favourite in this household. Boiled, roasted, mashed into humous, in curries and casseroles – any which way, they’re delicious.

Part of the legume family, they have formed a Middle Eastern food staple for thousands of years. Their nutty taste and grainy texture pairs well with several other foods and ingredients.

They are quite the little healthy eating stars too. As well as being a rich source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre, chickpeas may offer a variety of health benefits, such as improving digestion, aiding weight management (they are low calorie). They have several characteristics that may help reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, as follows.

They protect against heart disease. Chickpeas are a great source of magnesium and potassium, which have been studied for their potential to boost heart health. This is because they may help prevent high blood pressure. The soluble fibre in chickpeas has been shown to help reduce “bad” cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of heart disease.

They may help reduce the risk of some cancers. Eating chickpeas may promote the body’s production of butyrate, a fatty acid with potential to reduce inflammation in colon cells, possibly decreasing the risk of colon cancer. Chickpeas also contain several vitamins and minerals that may lower your risk of cancer, including B vitamins, which may be responsible for reducing the risk of breast and lung cancer.

Chickpeas also have properties known to support blood sugar control, and thus may help prevent and manage diabetes. The fibre and protein in chickpeas help prevent blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after eating, which is an important factor in diabetes management. Additionally, their low glycaemic index makes them appropriate for those with diabetes, as they are unlikely to lead to blood sugar spikes.

This is a quick, easy recipe which qualifies as comfort food, but a healthy version.

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 4 hours

Ingredients for Chickpeas á la Butterfly Loft

(Makes four portions)

  • 2 stock cubes
  • 0.5 litre water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 sweet potato cubed
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • *Handful of kale
  • 400g cooked chickpeas
  • 5cm/2in piece fresh root ginger, grated
  • Pinch garam masala
  • 70g cream of coconut
  • Natural yogurt and pitta breads or plain basmati rice, to serve

* You can add any veggies that need to be used up. It’s a very forgiving dish.

Method

Put the slow cooker on the high setting. Boil the water and add enough to cover the bottom of the cooker to a depth of about two inches (five cm). Add the two stock cubes.

Chop the onion and garlic and add to the cooker.

Add the sweet potato, carrot and kale.

Add the salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric and red chilli powder.

Then add the chickpeas, ginger and garam masala.

Stir. You should be able to coat the vegetable and chickpeas in the liquid, but don’t make it too wet.

Leave for two hours then add the cream of coconut. Stir.

Reduce the heat to medium and leave for two hours.

Serve with plain yogurt and pitta bread or rice.

Getting it all sorted out

All the equipment needed for making this delicious, comforting winter meal is available in the Butterfly Loft.

Some of the basic ingredients are already in the kitchenette, so check before you go shopping.

Within a minute’s walk of the Butterfly Loft is our pretty High Street where you’ll find shops selling everything you need for this recipe (and much more). We have a truly wonderful local baker Woodstocks (you’ll see the queue out of the door most mornings), an excellent local butcher (H Green & Son) plus a Budgens and McColls. Every Saturday morning there’s a traditional market in Timor Court featuring a large fruit and veg stall with good quality produce.

And (doing our bit for the environment) we provide Butterfly shopping bags so you can shop your socks off!

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