Sides and snacks

I love a snack. Specifically, I love any snack that is a) calorific, b) chocolatey, c) nutty, d) bad for you or e) all of the above (apart from nuts and chocolate together because I really don’t like that combination. I’ve tried and it just doesn’t work for me. Sorry.)

Because I’ve been working from home recently, I’ve been trying to keep our cupboard of crap snacks as sparse as possible, which is the only way I’m getting through my life without becoming one of those people who loses remote controls in their rolls of flab. Although our remote control has recently gone missing… Do you think the two things are connected? If you see a forklift outside my house, taking me to KFC for a mid morning bucket shaped snack, please hold an intervention. And take lots of photos so people can judge me on social media, thanks so much.

I digress.

I have been trying to keep the cupboard sparse but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking up relatively healthy alternatives to munch on whilst I work. Or to serve as sides at dinner parties. Mostly, this has been experimentation with savoury and spiced granolas, that may get a post all of its very own once I’ve got a recipe that I’m happy with. But this post is all about roasted chickpeas and is dedicated to one of my dearest friends who once served just a plain bowl of chickpeas, fresh from the tin, at a Christmas dinner because she loves them so much. Just a bowl of chickpeas. Nothing else. This was like 10 years ago and it still makes me laugh to this day.

She and her family came round at the weekend for a vegetarian curry feast and in homage to that meal, I decided to serve my own bowl of chickpeas. But rather than just plain, I spice roasted them and sprinkled coriander on them and basically pimped my chickpeas. And whilst those were alright, I made them again on Sunday and put more spice and seasoning on them and they were DELICIOUS. So the lesson learned is don’t skimp on spice when you’re roasting your chickpeas. Also, I left them a little softer in the middle as the husband is having dental issues. Poor old man.  But just leave them in the oven a little longer if you want a crunchier finish.

I served these alongside chilli paneer, a couple of tonnes of dhal (or paripu in Tamil), a fried cabbage curry, carrot salad and a gigantic bowl full of poppadoms. We finished the meal with my all time favourite dessert, lemon meringue pie. Delicious.

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Roasted spiced chickpeas

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to a low heat – around 150C/Gas mark 4. Rinse your chickpeas and pat them dry. Up to you whether you leave the skins on or take them off – I took most of them off as they get lifted as you dry but it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference to the final flavour. Put them on a nonstick baking tray and leave them whilst you prepare the spices.

Release the flavours of the spices by dry frying in a small frying pan for a couple of minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you can smell them. Do this over a low-medium heat so they don’t burn. Once they’re aromatic, transfer to a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) and grind to a fine dust – the sea salt helps give you traction here so add it in.

Drizzle the olive oil over the chickpeas, then sprinkle over the spice mix. Give the whole lot a good shake or mix with your hands so every pea is coated. Sprinkle on a little more sea salt and put in the oven for 45 minutes, giving them a shake once or twice during the cooking time.

Once they’re cooked to your liking, transfer to a bowl and serve. They can be eaten hot or cold and are perfect with a drink or sprinkled over a salad or in a bowl alongside a curry fest. Or just as a snack when the forklift doesn’t turn up and you’re forced to forage for your own snacks in the kitchen wilderness.

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Pudding

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