Tag Archives: chickpeas

Pre-move chickpea burgers with feta (deconstructed…)

downtown Accra

A food stall in Accra: you might find ground nuts, bananas, drinks, chopped fruit, plantain chips, ready-made porridge in a plastic bag, bread rolls with peanut butter or chocolate spread …. the selection can be impressive, and can change through the day. I bought eggs here. Mobile vendors push handcarts with meat pies or Fan-Yo icecream sachets (not bad), honking a bicycle horn which is very much part of the soundscape of Accra. So are the chickens, even downtown. You might meet someone pulling a cart of fresh coconuts: fresh coconut water is easily available here, they chop off the tops with a machete and hand the coconut to you with a straw. A colleague buys a couple coconuts and pours the coconut water into a bottle for more ease of transport. I’ve been wondering whether there is any coconut meat in these green coconuts, to be explored: might be nice for a sweetpotato curry I have in mind.

I’m moving next weekend from the temporary accommodation to a new flat here in Accra, with the same two friends, which will be nice. I am looking forward to unpacking various bags and boxes, packed three months ago: where is the bread knife, and the French press? Two months of filter coffee carefully drained through paper towel is enough (a luxury problem, I know, I an not quite desperate enough to drink Nescafe) Time to use up ingredients again, as the kitchen is being packed up for the move, so these deconstructed chickpea burgers with feta were assembled.

Chickpea burgers with feta (very crumbly…)

700 grammes cooked chickpeas (about two tins worth)
2 onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery, if you have it
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 small fresh chili peppers, if you have it (or 2 tsp cayenne pepper)
200 grammes of feta
2 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Breadcrumbs to bind these, maybe 1/3 cup? (I intended to add this but did not have any breadcrumbs, and skipped this – which may why the finished burgers were so crumbly….)
Sunflower oil to fry

To serve: Thai sweet chilli sauce

Mash the chickpeas (mine were cooked the week before and frozen, if so defrost well before.) I used an immersion blender, slow going until I added eggs and chopped vegetables. Add peeled and chopped onions, garlic, chili pepper and the grated carrot. Crumble in the feta. Add pepper if needed, not too much salt as the feta will be salty too. Shape this mix with your hands to ten burgers or so, heat oil in a frying pan and fry the burgers on both sides until slightly golden. Serve with sweet Thai chilli sauce.

Note: If you have breadcrumbs or oatmeal, and add that to mixture with a splash of milk, it might help stop these from being so crumbly.  Grilling them in the oven (on both sides) might also work.

Home-made bread rolls to go with them. Very nice! You can see the chickpea burger is not holding its shape well, though flavour was great. Reheated well next day for lunch.





Power cuts, and sweet potato stew with cowpeas and dawadawa

Yesterday morning at six, we woke to a power cut. Not unusual, there have been power cuts on and off all week. After ten minutes, the power came back — the compound generator — but then electrical items started to spark and pop. And smoke. The landlord blames a power surge from ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana), but we think it was a generator switch issue, since the generator was on by then and we should have been off-grid. Oh well. Internet router burner out, USB charger burnt out, converters gone. We are making do with borrowed bit and interim Internet, it could have been worse. Fortunately we have surge protectors for most items.

Thank goodness we do have a generator! The power has been out in parts of Accra since yesterday morning: 39 hours and still counting. Our generator is running low in fuel, a neighbour just said, so best to cook early just in case.

Plenty of people complaining on Twitter. No electricity means no running water, no fans against mosquitos, no phone charging, food spoiling. And now there is a storm with heavy rain. Good weather to write about sweet potato stew, though!

Dawadawa is fermented locusts bean, used in West African cuisine, with many reported benefits. It smells like fish sauce, quite pungent, and I used it instead of a stock cube. Interesting flavour. I was making a sweet potato stew, with black chickpeas and cowpeas. However, as I peeled the sweet potato, it was clear there would be far less sweet potato than expected, due to the many  little worms the peeling revealed. Sorry if you this make you squeamish, this is such non-Pinterest friendly cooking! I was not going to throw this all away. I am not throwing away food, and most of this could be salvaged. There is famine  in South Sudan. I just cut off the wormy bits, to keep this vegetarian. I was going to use peanut butter, but as mine had sugar in it I swapped to cashew butter at the last minute. There are some delicious groundnut soups here, this is just bit lighter.

Sweet potato, cowpea and cashew butter soup

1 tbs sunflower oil
200 grammes unsweetened cashew nut paste (or peanut butter)
1 large onion, peeled
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tbs tomato paste
1 litre water
1 tsp dawadawa (or a stock cube)
750  grammes of sweet potato, peeled
500 grammes cooked cowpeas and black chickpeas (whatever you have of pulses)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat cashew nut paste gently for a few minutes. About a cup is fine, I was just emptying a jar. Make sure it does not burn., stir now and then. The nut paste will become more liquid, and will release oil. In the interim, chop your onion, garlic, and ginger. Add this to the warm nut paste, with spices and tomato paste. Then I moved this to my slow cooker, with a litre of hot water, and cooked it for a couple hours on high. Not so much that the sweet potato went soft. At the end, I added the cooked cowpeas and black chickpeas, salt and pepper.


It was nice! We had it as is one day, and with mograbieh (giant Lebanese couscous) and cheese the next day. And four portions went in the freezer, as backup for our vegetarian friend. Or lunch for me!


Heatwave and failed chickpea meringues

IMG_4061Now that the worst of the summer heatwave seems to be subsiding here in Rome, life is improving. I might actually cook something soon, after weeks of proscuitto e melone,  caprese salad, Greek salad, anything that did not require cooking. What I have been enjoying are the articles in the Rome news about the heatwave. Like this: Il criminologo e gli effetti del caldo, where a criminologist advised us to avoid places with many people, as the aggressive tendencies increase with rising temperatures. Of particular interest were the dietary recommendations for a heatwave, in another article. Eat fruit and veg, of course, avoid mayonnaise, but drink warm or tepid beverages rather than iced drinks, as iced drinks may create alterations of the mucus of the stomach. I daringly continue to drink iced tea and iced coffee, wondering what havoc I may be causing internally.

giglio magnets

We had a few days by the sea, at Isola del Giglio in Tuscany, sharing a holiday flat with friends again, with a limited but OK holiday kitchen. One person was allergic to eggs, to I thought this was the perfect time to make vegan meringues with chickpea brine (also called aquafaba, trendy this summer). I have been reading about them, and optimistically packed my hand mixer to try. Indeed, the chickpea brine and sugar whisked up amazingly! whipping chickpea meringue

The chickpeas themselves we heated with some raw-el-hanout spice mix and olive oil, and sprinkled over a green salad.

Vegan meringues

Liquid from one 15-ounce can of chickpeas
3/4 heaping cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (to take the chickpea taste off)

Whisk until airy and stiff, bake at 250C on baking parchment. All fine so far. Unfortunately I had forgotten how unforgiving the holiday oven was: open gas flames, licking at the tray from below, which soon scorched the meringues. Still edible: we salvaged these not entirely black on the base, and served them as a do-it-yourself summer dessert: halves of fresh apricots, with cold vanilla yoghurt spooned over, and caramelised vegan meringue shards crumbled over the top.

burned meringuesDefinitely to be tried again, maybe next time with more sugar and longer whisking, and an oven with more all-over heat. This should be possible to conquer, and I love the idea of an egg-free pavlova.