4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 – 6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
l cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, or parsley
1 - 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
4 – 6 oz. chopped lamb (omit meat for a vegetarian version or substitute 4 skinned, boneless chicken thighs)
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 19-oz. can chickpeas, drained, or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch long pieces
1 – 2 small parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch long pieces
2 – 3 medium potatoes, organic Golden Yukon, purple, etc., cut into cubes
1 sweet potato, cut into cubes
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon turmerlc
6 cups water
- Prepare all ingredients
- Heat oil in a large soup pot and sauté onion, garlic, cilantro and cayenne pepper—plus lamb or chicken if used—over medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and cook, simmering, for 60 minutes.
We decided to launch the “Recipes” section of The Soaking Life with this low-fat, savory stew that’s flavored with spices that are both exotic and therapeutic. Eric learned this recipe at a cooking class held by the Valley Food Co-Op, our local health food haven, last year. He’s been perfecting the formula ever since, adding details like organic purple potatoes and cayenne powder. He suggested using this stew to head our list of recommended recipes for several reasons:
- The ingredients in Moroccan stew are low in fat and calories. Meat, if used, is added primarily to enhance flavor. High in fiber and rich in plant-based protein, this recipe is a natural way to promote healthy digestion while boosting energy.
- For those who soak to relieve muscle pain or joint inflammation, this stew contains several ingredients that may offer anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger, allspice, turmeric, allspice and cayenne pepper are all reported to be herbal pain relievers. Garlic and onions, which contain sulfur-based compounds that may relieve inflammation and ease the symptoms of arthritis, are two of the primary sources of this stew’s rich flavor.
- The potatoes, legumes and tomatoes that make up the substance of the stew are rich in potassium, an essential mineral and electrolyte that promotes the health of your heart, nerves and bones.
- Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and lycopene, two anti-oxidants that may boost your immune system. Lycopene is a red, plant-based pigment that has been linked to lower rates of prostate cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration. However, clinical evidence hasn’t verified whether the health benefits of a tomato-rich diet come from lycopene or from the potassium, folate, vitamin C and other nutrients.
- Sweet potatoes and carrots are rich in beta-carotene. Like lycopene, beta-carotene is a plant-based pigment that belongs to the carotenoid family. During digestion, the body converts betacarotene into vitamin A, which supports immunity and promotes healthy eyesight and wound healing.
We recommend a hot bowl of Moroccan stew on a frosty winter night after a long soak under a full moon. Because the flavor and texture of Moroccan stew grow richer and more complex over time, you can enjoy leftovers for days.
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Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center. (2009) Carotenoids.
National Institutes of Health: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2010) Turmeric.
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2010) Ginger.
WHFoods. (2011) Garlic.
Photo by Eric Havelock-Bailie.