This is a story about playing with your food. We have always liked chick peas. They are probably the most versatile of all beans. If you start with them as a base for veggie burgers, you can add anything you want (or anything you find in your refrigerator), and surprise yourself with a new dish. You add them to salads, soups, and stews, you mash them up into hummus or grind them into flour and make pancakes, and they are like your basic little black dress – serve any purpose depending on accessories. So one day I had about 1 1/2 cup leftover chick peas, already cooked.
What can I do with them that I haven’t already done without looking through other people’s recipes? There is a popular Mediterranean salad that consists of black beans and corn. I have modified it a little and will post the recipe at some point. But what if I add black beans to those chick peas? No, they were sort of incomplete and asking for something else. So I went purely on color combination – what would look good together?
Adding red kidney beans seemed like a good idea, maybe because I didn’t have any string beans at the moment, but it proved to be a lucky impulse. Then I started really playing with it – seasoning time.
Diced onion was obvious, and garlic almost begged to be included. With garlic came cilantro, olive oil, and light balsamic vinegar. But all that was like, done, tried, and boring. What else could I throw in there to make it sing? I’ve always used cumin with chick peas and cinnamon with black beans, so they should work together, right?
Ancient Greeks and Romans believed that cumin promoted love and fidelity, while curry is supposed to prevent graying hair and altogether keep you young and beautiful. What a winning combination! Add to that ginger that generates energy by improving blood circulation (or so they claim), and cinnamon that I try to use virtually in everything because it kills cholesterol, and let’s see what happens. I usually grate fresh ginger, but this time just happened to run out of it.
I mixed it all up, tasted it, liked it, and started making it once in a while. The first time my daughter-in-law tried it, she said, “Wow, it tastes Moroccan!”
“Neh,- said my son, no way.”
“Dovid, – dramatically whispered my daughter-in-law, – stop this, you are offending your mom!”
I didn’t feel offended at all, but my husband also decided to jump on my defense with:
“Yeah, Dovid, who are you to judge? You are not Moroccan!”
“But Hila is, – said Dovid, who never misses a chance to compliment his wife, – and she is the best Moroccan cook in the world.”
Somewhat mollified, she turned to him and asked, ” What’s not Moroccan about this salad?”
“It’s not hot enough,” said my son who can munch on hot peppers the way normal people pop chocolates.
At this point I went to the kitchen, put a glove on, and plopped on his plate…
…some hot peppers. Now it became Moroccan in his mind and on his palate. I was curious, however, and started researching. I discovered that the exact combination of spices I came up with by “playing with my food,” is used in various traditional Moroccan white bean recipes called Loubia. Curry and sometimes cinnamon are used in Persian Loobia (or Lubia), a stew with green beans. What fascinated me from a purely linguistic point of view is that I’ve always made a Georgian Lobio (that’s a country, not a state), which is a red bean stew, with garlic, cilantro, and some other stuff that I will discuss in another post. Coincidence? Or co-influence? I don’t know, but the salad is a winner.
And if you like it hot, do what my son did, and add some Jalapeno peppers, or what Israelis do, and add some Harissa (a paste made of all hot peppers you can think of). Either way, don’t forget to glove up before you handle this stuff!
- 1 1/2 cup chick peas, cooked
- 1 1/2 cup black beans, cooked
- 1 1/2 cup red kidney beans, cooked
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 3/4 large cloves of garlic, squeezed
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Cumin, curry, cinnamon to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil and light balsamic vinegar to taste
- Optional: hot peppers or hot pepper paste
Soak beans and cook them together or use fresh frozen beans (I prefer those). You can use cans, if you like, a can of each. Drain and rinse well. Add the rest of the ingredients, season, and mix.