Saturday, January 29, 2011

Courgettes with Chickpeas in Lemon and Mint

ekşili kabak or courgettes with chickpeas in lemon and mint

I always think it must be very easy to be vegetarian here in Turkey because what with the abundance of fresh vegetables here,  the cuisine includes so many non-meat dishes. Think of all those meze for a start. Now me, I am not vegetarian: I just love vegetables!
 You might say courgettes - kabak -  are not seasonal and you would be right. For me too they spell summer but with the addition of the chickpeas/nohut, the dish acquires a whole new wintry dimension.  Anyway there they were at the market no less so I succumbed and bought some. In Turkish this dish is called Ekşili Kabak – my Turkish husband says he has never heard of it! Probably because he is more used to Kıymalı Kabak/courgettes with mince, which is the classic. But I was burning to make this: I love pulses in any form so I knew I’d love this combination which I first saw in Alev Kaman's book 'Modern Türk Mutfağı'.


I say airily I love pulses but I hardly knew what they were when I first came here. They were not English staples by any stretch of the imagination and when I saw the amount of work it took to prepare them – think mother-in-law with a pile of lentils in front of her sifting through them meticulously fishing out the little pieces of stone -  it was hardly a given that I too would try my hand.

 After similar sorting, the dried nohut had to be soaked the night before and then boiled. No wonder a pressure cooker was a prize possession in those days: cooking Turkish-style  was a long-winded business. Eventually I bought one myself but I never really took to it. It now languishes on the top shelf in my kitchen today. But I do know that especially the older generation of Turkish home cooks still swear by it.

Ingredients for Courgettes with Chickpeas in Lemon and Mint
Serves 6
8 medium courgettes/kabak
1 cup boiled chickpeas/nohut  (use tinned)
1 onion thinly sliced Turkish-style in half moons
4 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp pepper paste/biber salçası
1tbsp tomato paste/domates salçası
2 cups hot water
1 tbsp dried mint/nane
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

·         Cut the courgettes into 3 pieces.  With a fork, score on all sides. Then cut each piece lengthways into 4 and each length into 2 cm pieces.
·         Gently soften the onion in the cooking oil. Add the pepper and tomato pastes and stir briefly.
·         Add the courgettes, chickpeas, salt and pepper.  Pour the hot water on top and cook over a low flame for 25 minutes.
·         Then add the mint, lemon juice and crushed garlic and stir. Cook for 10 minutes more.
·         Serve hot.
1. I mentioned those tomato and pepper pastes in the recent kapuska post. One little caveat: the pepper one comes in 2 types: acı as in hot or spicy, and tatlı/sweet.You can use either depending on your taste. Be careful as acı really is acı!

red peppers drying at Biber Evi, Assos

2.These pastes or purees are sold in both tins and jars of all sizes. Always get a small jar as it will keep much better and anyway I'm betting that you're not going to be using it in huge quantities on a regular basis, are you?

 Afiyet olsun!

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