Friday, July 24, 2015

Leon-inspired chickpea, aubergine and mint stew

It's getting a bit embarrassing, the way you can track my recipe progression. In addition to my ongoing enjoyment of aubergine, this stew carries forward the mint theme from my last recipe and features the chickpeas that allowed me to create a vegan mousse with chickpea brine. What can I say, my kitchen activities are transparent. It may also be obvious that I don't have enough time to create surplus recipes to mask this transparency!

Whilst some of the flavours in this dish are familiar, it definitely deserves recognition in its own right. The recipe is adapted from one in the Leon cookbook, which is published by the creators of the popular UK Leon restaurants. Leon is all about real, healthy, fast food and many of the dishes draw on Mediterranean and African ingredients. This recipe epitomizes the Leon style.

The original recipe actually featured tamarind, but I used dates for sweetness instead. Whichever ingredient you opt for, the result is a vegetable-packed dish studded with bursts of sweet flavour that perfectly offset the spices, tomato and mint.

I chose to roast some of my vegetables ahead of time, which obviously increased the cooking time. I liked the result and on the day in question the timing worked for me, but you could skip that step if need be.

Leon-inspired chickpea aubergine and mint stew
A delicious meal adapted from the Egyptian aubergine and tamarind stew in the Leon cookbook
Serves 4

2 large aubergine, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Drizzle olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
Pinch salt
1 red pepper, chopped
1-1/2 cups (or 1 tin) cooked chickpeas
6 large dates, chopped
Small bunch mint leaves, roughly torn

Water, if needed, for cooking

Rice, to serve

Preheat your oven to 180'C and place the chopped aubergines and carrots in an oven-proof dish, along with the red wine vinegar. Roast for 30 - 45 minutes. (You can skip this step and cook everything on the stove top if you prefer.)

When the aubergine and carrots are ready, set them aside (with any remaining vinegar) and heat a drizzle of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic until golden and fragrant, around 5 minutes. 

Add the spices and tomato paste and reduce heat to low. Add the cooked aubergine and carrot (with any remaining vinegar), pepper, chickpeas and dates. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes. Add water to the pan to keep a smooth stew-like consistency if needed.

Add mint leaves just before serving and serve with rice.

What cook books are you enjoying at the moment?


  1. Oh my goodness, this looks so tasty! I made a similar eggplant & chickpea stew recently but it was plain compared to yours! I need to make this - I'm pinning to make later :)

    1. I make plainer versions too sometimes :D I'm glad you like the look of this one and hope you enjoy it!

  2. this sounds great - I really like the sound of the spices which is unlike my usual ones. I have bookmarked it for when my mint goes crazy again

    1. Mint does enter those crazy patches :) I hope you like this if you do try it out.

  3. This is a lovely dinner and I would probably serve this with rice. I do love the chickpeas! And you have so much flavour in this with the spices and red wine vinegar xx

    1. It's amazing how spices can change a dish so much. I do love red wine vinegar too!

  4. Oh Kari this sounds so good. When my mint recovers, I'm making this. I am also going through a real tomato/eggplant/chickpea stage at the moment so your recipes are totally making me hungry!

  5. This sounds lovely - I do like eggplant and chickpeas.

  6. Leon is amazing isn't it. It is always my go-to place when I am in London and I want something quick and healthy.

    1. I wish they would expand although I guess that may compromise their current small-franchise style :-)

  7. If anything, I think seeing the progression is a great example to all of us how we can use up everything in our fridge and get the most out of every ingredient! Love the flavors in this stew!

  8. This sounds delicious. It definitely reminds me of a Turkish dish, mualle, but I really want to try it with tamarind. :)

    1. I'm sure it would be delicious that way!


I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook ( and Twitter (