This hearty and healthy Tunisian Lentil Stew with Crispy Chickpeas couldn’t be easier to make – it’s delightfully simple and comes together in a flash. Some days are destined for slow cooker meals, and yesterday, for me, was one of them. I didn’t have it in me to prepare the enchiladas that I’d planned, so I opted for something a bit faster, and whipped up a batch of this delicious and massively low-maintenance Tunisian-style stew instead. The ingredient list may look a little lengthy to you at first blush, but most are things that you probably already have on hand (spices, olive oil, garlic, onions, pepper, etc.) and all you have to do is throw everything in the slow cooker and go about your business. Yes, this is one of THOSE recipes.
It happens to be vegetarian and, if you nix the cheese and yogurt, it’s suddenly a vegan thing. I enjoy recipes that conjure up the feeling that I might be somewhere deliciously exotic and warm – and this recipe accomplishes that. It’s the tell-tale combo of gorgeous North African spices that get the credit – the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and coriander play so well together. I also like to add a generous couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika to the mix, and this wouldn’t be a proper Tunisian stew without some Harissa …
Sometimes referred to as “Tunisia’s main condiment,” harissa is a spicy Tunisian chili paste. It sports a distinctive bright red color, and is served with many meals as a dip or spread, or as an ingredient in soups and stews. Harissa paste is also used to give deep flavor to couscous, or as a rub for meat and vegetables.
This traditional condiment has regional variations, with the simplest versions consisting of just chilis, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Extras such as cumin, coriander, lemon, onions, tomato are used sometimes, and variations from some Saharan regions often possess a smokey flavor. Harissa is a common ingredient in other Middle Eastern cuisines as well – in Israel it is often used as a topping for shawarma and in Morocco, you will see it served as a condiment alongside tagines.
Tunisia, however, is the world’s largest exporter of prepared harissa and as such, this fantastic and easy recipe wouldn’t be complete without it.
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