This recipe is really a two day project. One day is needed for soaking the dried legumes, and the next day is needed for baking the soaked, seasoned dish. If we lived in a smaller village in Greece, this would likely not be an issue. We would then have two days to visit with the neighbours as we all gather around the community oven with our pots in hand, not just once, but twice! We would start our visit when we dropped off the pots, and then, knowing htat the pot would bake for several hours, we would go opff to do whatever we needed, only to return after those hours and continue to visit while picking up the finished (cooked) dish. That would be a lovely way to pass a day. Too bad for us we do not live in a samll Greek village right now, and we had to do this by ourselves.
For this recipe, you will need the following:
2 cups dried chick peas
1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon flour
4 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste
So, we started on the first day by soaking the chick peas in 4 cups of water and 1 Tablespoon of flour. The flour helps to keep the skins in place during the cooking process. This small amount of flour is not mixed into the recipe, it is there just for the soaking process.
After a day of soaking has passed, drain the water from the chick peas. You can see that the flour we added to the water has settled at the bottom of the container. Do not add this to the recipe. Also, please do not rinse the chick peas. Leave them strained from the water, but do not rinse anything to disturb the skins. Once the chick peas are drained, put them in a pot (preferably one with a lid). Add to the pot only these other ingredients: the bay leaves, onion, oil, and water. Notice there is no salt and pepper in this step. Those are added much later in the directions, so they do not interfere with the cooking process of hte chick peas. Cover the pot and put it in a 400º F oven for 2 hours.
The timer buzzed and the first two hours are done, take the chick peas out of the oven. Stir them once or twice, just to make suire that everything still moves. Add the salt and pepper to your liking. We added about 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. You can taste the cooking liquid to decide if you have added enough salt and/or pepper.
See how all the components blended together, and the onions started to carmelize in the pot. The bay leaves have brought so much flavour -- you can tell by the aroma that is travelling through the kitchen while we stir this. And, at the bottom of the pot, you see the flavourful oil that is just waiting for a piece of crusty bread! This with a little bread would make a perfect meal.
Serve this warm or tepid. It is a perfect dish to set in the oven and do all the other things you have to becasue it will take a while! Or, pretend that you are in the Greek village and have a coffee visit with a friend! Either way, you will build your appetite for this healthy, delicious meal that is simple, clean, and authentically Greek!
"The Lord, before His Incarnation, let mankind experience all the bitterness of sin, all their powerlessness to eradicate it; and when all longed for a Deliverer, then He appeared, the most wise, all-powerful Physician and Helper. When men hungered and thirsted after righteousness, as it grew weaker, then the everlasting righteousness came."
From St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ:Part 1, Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 266)
Source of quote: http://theodorakis.net/orthodoxquotescomplete.html