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North african squash and chickpea stew

This richly spiced combination of squash, tomatoes and pulses is based around a traditional Moroccan recipe, harira. That dish is actually a soup but, whenever I make it, I find myself veering towards such a thick and chunky texture that ‘stew’ seems a more appropriate description. It hardly matters – it’s a delicious, belly-filling, one-pot dish.

Servings 6


  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 100g red lentils
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8 saffron strands, toasted and crushed
  • 500ml roasted tomato sauce or passata
  • A good handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • A large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 300g squash or pumpkin
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g vermicelli, orzo or other small pasta
  • Dates, to serve (optional)


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until just starting to turn golden. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, celery, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger. Sauté for a couple of minutes.

Now add the lentils, chickpeas, saffron, tomato sauce or passata, parsley and about half the coriander. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and deseed the squash or pumpkin and cut into large cubes. Add to the pan with the stock and bay leaf. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer until it is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, scattered with the remaining coriander leaves and with a few dates on the side, if you like.