Jerk Chickpeas

jerk chickpeas

Growing up I never did much care for chicken even before I became a vegetarian, and my parents generally did not prepare ethnic dishes, so I never did try the classic Jamaican jerk chicken. But now with plenty of ethnic cooking behind me, I found that the seasonings that are commonly used in jerk spicing — Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg — appealed a great deal to me, and I thought I would try a vegetarian version with cooked chickpeas instead of chicken. I wasn't quite sure what to expect as generally I am more at home with Indian spicing, but I went with my instincts after a bit of research and was surprised and pleased with just how good the result was. Hot, sweet and sour, tangy and zesty, this chickpea recipe is now one of my top favorites.

These easy-to-make jerk chickpeas are made on the stove top, but you may want to consider a baked version. Be very careful with the Scotch bonnet peppers in this recipe — the traditional pepper in jerk seasonings, they are about as hot as habaneros, and if you're not used to a great deal of heat then just use half a pepper or substitute serrano or jalapeños for a milder kick.

I served these chickpeas wrapped up in homemade sweet potato rotis for one of the most satisfying meals I have enjoyed in a while. My dining companions agreed too.

vegetarian jerk chickpeas

Jerk ChickpeasJerk Chickpeas
Recipe by
Cuisine: Caribbean
Published on May 27, 2013

Easy stove-top vegetarian jerk chickpeas — hot, sweet, sour, tangy and zesty

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 to 35 minutes

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  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (3 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 to 2 Scotch bonnets or other hot chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (soy) sauce, or to taste
  • 1 small bunch of green onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • juice from 1 to 2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
  • fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the chickpeas are soft. Drain and set aside.

  • Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the ginger, garlic and chilies and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the thyme and ground spices and stir for another minute.

  • Now add the tomatoes, honey, maple syrup and tamari and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken.

  • Stir in the chickpeas, the green onions, red pepper and 3/4 cup of water. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more water as needed. Note that you want a fairly thick and dry consistency as the end result.

  • Stir in the lime juice and parsley, season with black pepper and sea salt to taste, and simmer for another few minutes.

  • Serve hot garnished with dried red chili flakes, green onion slices and parsley.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
jerk chickpeas and roti

Other Caribbean recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you may enjoy:
Caribbean-Style Black Bean & Delicata Squash
Caribbean Sweet Potato Soup
Vegetarian Jamaican Patties


Claire said...

I'm always a bit nervous about trying Caribbean recipes - my husband's parents are from Jamaica and there's no matching his mother's cooking! - but he's recently volunteered to go vegetarian, so I was hunting for healthy & protein-rich recipes. This turned out beautifully - thanks!

Anonymous said...

This was so good! I omitted the scotch bonnets because I can't tolerate that much heat. I served the chickpeas over rice. Thanks for the great recipe!

Soumya said...

This was delish! I only added one scotch bonnet and that was a bit too spicy for us - next time I'll use only a quarter 😊