Spice up snack time with chickpeas

By | | Eating In |

Chickpeas make a superior snack. When served, they should be warm, a little crispy on the outside but soft inside, and dusted with north African Berber spices. (Carl Davaz/The Register-Guard)
Chickpeas make a superior snack. When served, they should be warm, a little crispy on the outside but soft inside, and dusted with north African Berber spices.
Chickpeas make a superior snack. When served, they should be warm, a little crispy on the outside but soft inside, and dusted with north African Berber spices.

It was midafternoon on an unusually sunny and warm day in San Francisco. We had seen an exhibit on “Frog and Toad and the World of Arnold Lobel” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, then had gone shopping – trying on innumerable glasses frames and almost as many shoes. We stopped for something cold and fizzy to drink. With the drinks we ate spicy fried chickpeas and an assortment of olives.

The chickpeas were amazing – warm, a little crispy on the outside but soft inside, and dusted with north African Berber spices. We couldn’t stop eating them.

The ones we ate were fried but when trying to replicate them, I didn’t want to have to fry them. I come from a long line of people who do not fry, and frying makes me nervous. Oven roasting seemed the way to go.

You will end up with a superior snack if you soak and cook your own chickpeas before roasting. You could start with a couple of cans of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed and dried, but they have a mealier texture and a vaguely canny taste.

The spices should be easily found in grocery stores that sell spices in bulk. If you can’t find the fenugreek, it’s OK to leave it out.

This makes a crisp, richly flavored snack, easily multiplied to serve a crowd. Be sure to have napkins available, because you’ll end up with spice-coated fingers.

Berber Spice Mix

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ground chilies
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine spices in a small jar with a tightly fitting lid. Shake to mix well. Will keep for months if sealed air-tight and kept in a dark place (like your kitchen cabinet.)

Recipe adapted from food.com.

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Berber Spice Mix (see previous recipe)

Put rinsed chickpeas in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Let sit overnight or at least eight hours.

Drain, rinse and add water to cover by 2 inches. Add salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a good simmer and allow to cook for about 45 minutes or until tender. They should be cooked through but not mushy.

Drain well and lay on a baking sheet or a kitchen towel to dry.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place chickpeas on the baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Shake pan to roll chickpeas to distribute the oil. Shake chickpeas again to level them out and sprinkle with the spice mix. Shake pan to roll chickpeas in the spices. Shake out into a level layer.

Bake for about 30 minutes, shaking pan every 10 minutes or so to move the chickpeas around. They will start to rattle a bit near the end as they dry out. The amount of baking time will depend on the size of the chickpeas. Let one cool a bit and taste it. It should be slightly crunchy on the outside but still soft inside.

Variations:

Replace Berber spices with curry powder.

Replace Berber spices with Thai green chili paste. Combine chili paste with oil and drizzle over chickpeas before roasting.

Replace Berber spices with your favorite rib rub.