Okra and chickpea Gumbo
It's Mardi Gras time in the Cajun Country and we are celebrating this carnival season with the gulf coast's very own "Gumbo". Gumbo is a stew or soup which originated in south Louisiana and is one of the signature dishes that arguably earned Louisiana the title of the culinary capital of the US. Traditionally it consists primarily of a strong stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable "holy trinity" of celery, bell peppers, and onion. The two main varieties of gumbo are the creole gumbo generally containing shellfish, tomatoes, and a thickener and Cajun gumbo which is generally based on a dark roux and is spicier, with either shellfish or fowl. Here we are presenting the third variety namely the meatless gumbo z'herbes is essentially a gumbo of slow-cooked greens sometimes thickened with roux. The recipe follows...
Olive oil 1 tsp
All purpose flour ½ TBSP
Red onion 1 medium, chopped
Celery 1 stalk, chopped
Green bell pepper 1 small, chopped
Vegetable broth/water 1 cup + 1 cup
Tomato 2 medium, chopped
Chickpeas 1 cup, cooked (or canned)
Okra, cut to chunks (rounds) 1 cup (fresh or frozen)
Black pepper powder ½ tsp
Bay leaf 1 no
Red chilly powder ¼ tsp
Tabasco pepper sauce or hot sauce ½ TBSP
Garlic 1 pod, finely chopped
Additional broth or water 1 cup
In a microwave safe bowl add the chopped tomato with 1 cup water. Cook this in the microwave for 2 minutes. Set aside.
In a deep bottomed pot at medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté garlic, chopped onions, green bell peppers and celery. Cook these until the onions turn translucent. Then add the flour and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes or until flour is browned (this is to make the roux). Next add the cooked tomato along with the water, the other 1 cup broth or water stirring well to combine. Now add all the remaining ingredients starting from chickpeas, okra, pepper powder, bay leaf, red chilly powder, hot sauce and salt. MIX WELL.
Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes, so that all flavors are infused into the gumbo. Switch off flame and serve over white rice. You can also serve rice mixed in gumbo, the way I like to eat it ..
Notes: The gumbo should have a chunky soup consistency, so add more water or broth if needed.