I like every recipe I post on this site. There are countless recipes that never see the light of day. They are probably good, I just don’t like them. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are recipes I love. Like, I could eat this everyday kind of love. These chili chickpeas get that kind of love.
The sauce is really where the recipe comes together. Dried chilis paired with tomatoes and finished with a boost of lemon; it’s hard to go wrong. Also, just a note. It could be chili or chile peppers (and there’s a fascinating read on this from the LA Times.)
Dried Peppers, your friend
If it wasn’t for having a husband and small child opposed to any level of heat in a recipe, I’d use dried chilis for every meal. I already kind of do this through adding crushed red pepper on top of everything I eat. At least with dried chilis, there is a myriad of flavor and heat.
I found when writing this recipe out I had a hard time landing on which chilies to include. I had picked up a bag at the market. The chilies in this bag were not labeled but I believe they were mild red hatch peppers. So, I’d like to just say: find dried chilies with mild heat.
Which chilis have mild heat, you ask? I’m not an expect on this but Saveur has a good base of what to look for in chilies. Once you find your dried chilis, you also need to know how to prep them for a recipe.
Once you figure out which chili you should go with for the recipe, the rest doesn’t matter (just kidding, kind of). However, the chickpeas in this recipe are not paramount. Use what you have on hand. Big, meaty white beans would be the next logical choice followed closely by a creamy pinto.
You can swap the ghee for something vegan-friendly. However, and this is something I don’t say a lot: the ghee really adds to the sauce. There’s something magical that happens when chili peppers and ghee meet. But in swap pinch, olive oil would do. Also, drop the feta and probably add a bit more salt to make up for that.
I lied when I said nothing else mattered because this dish isn’t the same without the lemon. I shared recently about preserving lemons and many people questioned me on uses. Preserved lemons are great as a finishing flavor when the overall dish needs a bit of pick-me-up.
Of course, if you’re not making your own preserved lemons or don’t want to invest in buying some, lemon will work. Give the final dish a squeeze and small amount zest lemon.
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