Tunisian chickpea and eggplant stew

November 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm (AMA, Beans, B_(3 stars, like), Fall recipes, Middle East / N. Africa, Quick weeknight recipe, Summer recipes, Vegetable dishes)

This stew from the AMA cookbook is vaguely similar to the Moroccan-style tagine recipe I posted earlier this year.  Like that tagine, the recipe calls for vegetables and chickpeas and sweet spices like cinnamon and ginger, but unlike the tagine recipe the ingredient list isn’t a mile long.   And yes, I did notice that the recipe calls for eggplant.  I decided to step outside my comfort zone, as well as the season.


  • 1 medium eggplant, about 1 pound
  • 1 tsp. salt (I think I used 1/2 tsp.)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 7 oz.)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes with juice [I used 680g very finely crushed]
  • 2 cans (19 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 4 cups cooked chickpeas [I used 650g]
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • dried fruit (optional, see below)
  • olives (optional, see below)
  • preserved lemons (optional, see below)


  1. Cut off the eggplant’s cap and stem, but do not peel it.  Cut it into rough 3/4-inch cubes, place them in a colander, and toss with the salt.  Set aside for 20 minutes to drain.  Rinse well under cold water and pat dry on several layers of paper towels.   [I instead used the Cook’s Illustrated method of cooking the eggplant on paper towels in the microwave until it starts to collapse and dry out.]
  2. Heat the oil in a very large skillet or dutch oven.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add the red bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, eggplant, and 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the chickpeas and the honey, and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat until the eggplant is tender and the flavors blend, about 20 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Makes 6 servings, about 313 calories per serving.

My notes:

I liked this stew.  It’s not as complex tasting as the tagine, and I do think it would benefit from the addition of a little dried fruit and citrus peels.  But even without the additional complexity I enjoyed it  The peppers and onions kind of cook away into the sauce, and so you’re basically left with a lot of chickpeas and some chunks of eggplant floating in a sweet-spiced tomato sauce.  I didn’t love the eggplant, but it didn’t really bother me either.  Derek and I ate the stew for dinner, and had enough left over for lunch the next day.

Rating: B
Derek: B

Update Summer 2017: I made this recipe again but I made it a bit more complex, inspired by this recipe on the Green Kitchen Stories blog and this recipe on the Kellie’s Food to Glow blog. I again cooked the eggplant in the microwave using the Cook’s Illustrated instructions (described here), and it basically cooked away into the sauce so it wasn’t really detectable. I waited until close to the end to add the red bell peppers, so that they didn’t disintegrate. And towards the end of the cooking time I added dried prunes and apricots to the recipe, as well as preserved lemons and olives. The addition of the sweet dried fruit and the salty tangy olives and lemons really improved the recipe. Both Derek and I quite liked the dish, but Alma was less enthusiastic.

Rating: B+

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