Chickpeas with Date Masala

When and if you run out of inspiration on opening the fridge-door what do you do? go to the kitchen cupboard (or the pantry if you want to call it so). What if there is no inspiration lurking behind the bag of flour? then, what, I, do is pick an ingredient, dash upstairs to the desk and consult the Internet.

The first time I did so in 2007, I stumbled open Desert Candy, I immediately warmed to that blogger and her tales of food, her interpretation of middle-eastern meals so, every now and then when inspiration is nowhere to be found, I visit Mercedes' blog.

I did this tonight as the fridge is bear after 2 horrid weeks of work, editing and deadlines + a lovely, lovely long week-end away. The kitchen-cupboard is not any healthier than the fridge but strangely enough there seems to be 2 whole packets of dates. Do dates reproduce in dark corners?

But what do you cook with dates? well, once again Desert Candy came up trump with a recipe she found in the New York Times which in turn had found it in the Sunday Magazine and we all amended it, I removed the two whole star anise.

This is a gorgeous dish, not sweet at all. The flavours melt into one another beautifully  so thumbs up for 
Chickpeas with Date Masala
Recipe copied and ever so lightly amended from Desert CandyServes two very hungry people for lunch, or 4 as a side dish.
3 cups cooked chickpeas (from 2 15-oz cans or cooked from scratch)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
2½ tablespoons tomato paste
12 medjool dates, pitted and chopped (or another soft sweet variety, like deglet noor)
1/4 teaspoon ground black cardamom
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons  salt
1 teaspoon  pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Drain chickpeas and set aside. Combine all spices (cardamom through ground ginger) in a small bowl.

2. In a medium pot set over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it begins to shimmer. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes, until they have softened and started to brown. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste. Add the spice mixture and allow to toast for a minute or two.

3. Add the chickpeas, dates, and ½ cup or more of water, enough to make them less than dry. Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally to incorporate the flavors, and keep warm until serving.

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