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Fried Chickpeas, Tahini Sauce, and Roasted Pumpkin

Almost all Turkish people love eating chickpeas, and a good deal of their popularity stems from the fact that they’re not only tasty, but they’re extremely versatile, and can be combined with any number of spices, vegetables, or meats. While chickpeas are sometimes included in recipes right out of a can or a jar for convenience, they can also be boiled after having been dried out.

Many Turkish homes will boil a large amount of chickpeas at a given time, perhaps even half a kilo, and will then freeze any chickpeas which are not used within a couple days. While both ready-prepared chickpeas and currently-boiled chickpeas are very tasty, anyone who eats both regularly will notice that the freshly made chickpeas have a distinct flavor improvement over the canned or jarred chickpeas.

Winter Version of Spiced Chickpeas with Chopped Salad

The recipe featured below, which consists of fried chickpeas with pumpkin and tahini sauce, is kind of a winter version of chopped salad with spiced chickpeas, and is a very easy recipe to make, because there are a variety of roasted vegetables that can be added if you choose, and the tahini sauce always imparts a wonderful flavor to food. Some people for instance, prefer to substitute sweet potatoes for the pumpkin, but since these are harder to obtain in Turkey, many of the people will also use their own substitutions, perhaps cauliflower or something else.

Many people also like including coriander seeds or whole cumin, which imparts a very subtle but appealing flavor to the recipe. When whole cumin is lightly toasted and ground up freshly, its flavor is much superior to the already ground-up version. However, if ground cumin is the only thing available, it will certainly be acceptable for this recipe.

This recipe is intended to be served as a dinner dish, alongside a simple green salad, and possibly also with some fresh bread. This will make a very full and satisfying dinner, without being heavy or seeming to be excessive to the diners. It can be used as the main course, or it can be served in tandem with chicken or fish, and depending on what is served with it, it will be a full dish for between two and four people.

Ingredients Needed for this Recipe

In order to prepare the pumpkin, you’ll need the following:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red onions which have been cut into slices
  • 1 full handful of flat-leaf parsley, which can be substituted with coriander or dill
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 kg of pumpkin or sweet potato, which should be cut into small chunks

Ingredients needed for the tahini sauce:

  • Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove which has been crushed into the consistency of a paste
  • 50 g of tahini

The ingredients needed for the fried chickpeas are as follows:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • 500 g of cooked chickpeas

Preparing the Recipe

First you should preheat your oven to 350°F, and then mix the pumpkin chunks in with three tablespoons of olive oil, along with a little seasoning. Spread this onto a cooking sheet in one layer, which should be lined with baking parchment or some olive oil to prevent sticking to the pan.

Bake this for about 15 minutes, and then mix your large oven dish, ensuring that the pumpkin chunks are not clinging to each other. Then mix in the red onion with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add that to your sheet pan. Bake this until the onions and the pumpkin have softened, which should take about 20 minutes. You should check on these occasionally to make sure that they don’t burn.

While the pumpkin is being roasted, you can begin making the tahini sauce by mixing together the lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, and tahini. To this mixture, you should add water a little bit at a time, until you have achieved the consistency of a runny yogurt. Season this mixture with salt and pepper to your taste.

If you’re using whole seeds of cumin and coriander, these can be gently toasted in a frying pan until you see the seeds begin to pop, and you can actually smell the flavor of them. Remember to occasionally shake the pan so that the spices don’t become burned. Then you should roughly crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle, unless you’re using already ground-up spices.

Before the pumpkin is ready, you should heat the sunflower oil for the chickpeas over a medium heat in a small frying pan. Then you should pat the chickpeas dry with a paper towel, to prevent the oil being spit out during the cooking process. Add the chickpeas to the hot oil, and fry them until they turn golden, which should take about four or five minutes. While they’re cooking, make sure you stir regularly to avoid burning.

When the chickpeas have been cooked to a golden brown, you can stir in the seasoning and spices, then transfer them to a plate or bowl which is lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Add together the fried chickpeas and the fresh herbs, and combine them with the onion and roast pumpkin.

Drizzle a little tahini sauce over the top, and keep the remainder of the tahini separate, so it can be added by diners who desire a little extra. The dish should be served immediately while it is still warm, and there is no doubt that this is a dish which is certain to please your entire group of guests.