The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 17 June 2011

Spiced Mince and Chickpeas with Fruity Couscous

Once every couple of weeks, on a day when I am not so pressed for time, I like to cook a big pot of one-pot dish with enough left over for an easy meal for another busy day. My criteria for a nutritious one-pot meal is quite simple: there should be a nice variety of vegetables of at least the white, red, orange and green colours, and sufficient protein for everyone. I aim for at least 200g of vegetables and 100g of meat or other protein sources per adult per meal. The little one is only about a quarter of my size, so obviously he doesn't need that much - in fact he would eat only about a quarter of the numbers above plus some carbs (e.g. rice, pasta, potatoes etc) to fill up his tum. Minced meat is great for one-pot dishes, and it's also an easy way to get some haem iron into the boy without having to fuss about the fact that red meat is tougher to chew than chicken and fish.

Spiced Mince and Chickpeas with Fruity Couscous on the 2.5 year old's plate:

One day I had bought minced pork intended for a one-pot meal, but I really didn't feel like doing another spag bol. A look in the pantry showed that I had a can each of chickpeas and tomatoes, so it was off to google to find some yummy recipes. The search result turned up mostly Moroccan-style dishes, and this particular blogger shared a mince-and-chickpeas recipe that used apples. Middle eastern cuisine often feature fruits in their spicy dishes, but I'm used to seeing stone fruit like peach and apricot. Apple seems like an unusual fruit ingredient for a seemingly Moroccan dish, but since apples go very well with pork, it worked in perfectly with the minced pork I had bought. My recipe is quite different to the one I found, tweaked to the spices and ingredients I had in my pantry, and I included a lot more vegetables in it. This recipe was pretty easy to do, but it does require a bit of prep time with chopping, slicing and dicing the vegetables. I see it as an investment because the leftovers saves me the time from prepping and cooking a meal on another time-poor day.

Spiced Mince and Chickpeas with Fruity Couscous


Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium green capsicum, diced
200g white mushrooms, sliced
500g minced pork
2 teaspoons of mixed ground spices (I used paprika, cayenne, curry powder and nutmeg)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1x400g can of chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup of chicken stock
2 medium apples, peeled and diced
1x400g can of chickpeas, drained
3/4 cup (~100g) frozen peas
2 tablespoons tomato sauce/ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat some oil in a pot and sauté the onion, garlic and carrots on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the capsicum, mushrooms, minced pork and ground spices. If necessary, break any large meat clumps apart, and cook until the meat is cooked and the mushrooms have shrunk.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and apples. Stir well, and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn down the heat to low and simmer until the apples have softened, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the drained chickpeas, peas and tomato sauce, and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Season to taste, keeping in mind that the chicken stock and chickpeas already contain a fair amount of sodium.
7. Lovely when served with fruity couscous. [Prepare couscous according to packet instructions, substituting the water with fruit juice of your choice (preferably one that complements apples - like mango, orange and pear). Stir a handful of raisins/sultanas through the couscous.]

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