There’s a traditional Moroccan fish recipe that my mother, and the rest of the Moroccan Jews around the world make every Friday for Shabbat dinner. I’ve never met anyone who grew up in a Moroccan home who doesn’t get nostalgic about this fish dish. We call it cooked fish, I know, weird, and is basically fish fillets (such as branzino or sea bass) braised with garlic cloves, red or green hot peppers and lots of cilantro and hot & sweet paprikas infused in canola oil. Sometimes they add to the pot fish roe, which somehow I loved as a kid. I guess it was their crunchiness. Anyway, I made it but without the fish and instead of the fish roe I used amaranth. Same same but different and crunchy.
When I cooked Amaranth seeds, their look and texture reminded me of fish roe.
If you open the fridge of any typical Jewish-Moroccan home you’ll find a jar of rust-colored liquid. It’s sweet and hot paprika infused in canola oil that they use in many dishes. The paprikas sink to the bottom of the jar and only the oil is used.
Chickpeas & Amaranth Tagine
- 1 cup amaranth seeds
- 4 garlic cloves - sliced
- 1 red bell pepper - sliced widthwise
- 12 grape tomatoes - cut into halves or 2-4 medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 California dry chilis - toast them for a minute or two in a toaster oven or char in a skillet over high heat
- handful cilantro - washed carefully and chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric or fresh
- ½ cup of olive oil mixed with 1 tablespoon smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon hot paprika
- 2 cups cooked or jarred chickpeas
- Put all the ingredients, except for the spices and chickpeas, in a wide pot or heavy skillet. Cover with filtered water (about 4 cups) and bring to a boil. Cook on high heat for ten minutes. Add the spices and reduce to a simmer, uncovered.
- Simmer for 35 – 40 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes more. Taste and add salt if necessary. Serve in deep plates.