My Time in Morocco: Moroccan Chickpea Stew

by simplylife on January 21, 2012

It was the spring of 2006.  I was living in Sevilla, Spain and had just finished my TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) Certification.  The friends I lived with and saw on a daily basis during class were all getting ready to part ways and take their new certification all over the world.  Three of us decided we wanted one more adventure before parting ways.

We each packed a bag with a toothbrush and change of clothes, bought baguettes and cheese at a local grocery store and headed for the bus station.  We shared our bread and cheese over the long, bumpy bus to Tarifa, Spain, where we stayed in the sketchiest hostel I’ve ever been in.  After feeling grateful to wake-up alive the next morning we wandered along the coast until we found just what we had traveled all this way for:  the ferry to Morocco.

We boarded the ferry without giving ourselves time to think if we should have let anyone know where we were headed (sorry mom, but weren’t you happy to hear from me after I was back and you had nothing to worry about?) and then spent the entire day wandering through the narrow roads, riding camels (have you ever done this? it feels SO strange), drinking mint tea and shaking our head “no” at the street vendors trying to convince us we needed that tambourine.

It was an incredible experience and I would love to visit Morocco again.  However, I know it won’t be happening any time soon so I’ve decided to do the next best thing and bring a piece of Morocco home with the scents of turmeric, cinnamon and cumin cooking together in this healthy and flavorful dish.

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

by Simply Life

Keywords: saute entree side vegetarian vegan beans couscous chickpeas Moroccan


  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups water or low-sodium vegetable (or chicken) broth
  • 2-3 tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous


1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic to pan and sauté for about 5 minutes.

2. Add in all seasonings and cook additional 1 minute.

3. Add water (or broth), tomato paste and chickpeas. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, cook couscous in separate pan according to package directions.

5. Add parsely and lemon juice to stew and serve over warm couscous and enjoy!

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In other news, I was sent these two boxes of Fudgy Chocolate Mini VitaCakes to try.  They are only 50 calories and have no artificial coloring or preservatives (because of this, you have to freeze them upon arrival).

I’ve been packing one in my lunch this week and by the time I’m hungry for my morning snack, these have been thawed and ready to eat.  This has a sweet chocolately flavor and soft, chewy texture, and for only 50 calories I’ve been surprised how full I’ve stayed!

Visit their Facebook page for more info.

Thank you all for the well wishes! I continue to drink lots and lots of tea and have been feeling better!

~What has been your favorite place you’ve traveled to?  Where would you like to go?

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  • Nancy at Good Food Matters

    My most exotic journey was to Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia 5 years ago, where tribal peoples live in much the same way as they have for the eons. I loved reading about your Moroccan adventure–I’d love to visit that country some day. It’s a slightly scary but liberating feeling to travel like this, when no one really knows where you are. In the big picture, this often happens the world over, and works out beautifully.

    • Simply Life

      Oooh Ethopia is one place I would LOOOVE to visit!!! I bet that was amazing to see!

  • Anonymous

    mmm. Chickpeas are just so good. Sounds like a fun trip :). I’ve never seen those vitas! I really want to try them. Take it easy!

  • Hillary

    Oh, these look awesome!

    In the summer of 2010, I traveled to Israel for two weeks. It was pretty much one of the best experiences of my life—and yep, I rode a camel! (In the desert at sunset no less!) I remember thinking “I am riding a camel in the desert in Israel. This is insane!”) Haha!

    • Simply Life

      WOW! That definitely sounds like a scene from a movie!

  • Maris Callahan

    I am glad you are feeling better. I envy your travel experiences. This stew is brilliant!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    Morocco sounds amazing!! My favorite place I travelled was Spain. I loved the freshness of the food and the Mediterranean feel. I also loved Madrid (a bit more metropolitan, obviously) and how all the women seemed to be dressed to the nines at all hours of the day. I love, love, loved Spain! And with the icky snow I’m going to have to trudge through today–I miss it!

    • Simply Life

      Agreed! I spent a summer living with a family and working as an au pair (nanny) in Madrid. It was quite the experience seeing it from this perspective!

  • Meghan Smith

    Those chocolate cakes look amazing! I love how they only have fifty calories. A perfect snack or lunch dessert.

    Your story was beautiful, as were your pictures. I hope to study abroad someday!

  • decocinasytacones

    OH god!, that´s a tajine and it looks so yummy!!!.
    I visited Marrakesh last year, and I loved the flea markets and the smell all over.

  • Lauren

    looks amazing! What a great experience 🙂

  • Brittany

    Oh goodness gracious this stew looks so good. So do those muffiny chocolatey vita things!

  • Jolene (

    Good for you for having the guts to stay in a sketchy hostel – I like when people are willing to rough it a bit! I haven’t traveled out of North America 🙁 I really hope to soon. My favourite places that I have traveled are Hawaii and New York.

  • camille

    That’s funny, we were just putting together a “where do we want to go” list today. I’ve traveled quite a bit with my family, when I was little, and then my husband and I have had a few little trips together, and it’s hard to choose my favourite, because I love them all for different reasons.

  • Helen @ Helen’s Cooking

    Looks delicious!!! Love Moroccan spices! How long did you stay in Morocco?

    • Simply Life

      I was in Spain for a few months but we just took the day ferry to Morocco- I would love to go back for longer though!!!

  • Yummychunklet

    I recently went to Arizona and it was great! I’m looking forward to heading to Italy though.

    • Simply Life

      Ooh Italy will be amazing- can’t want to hear about it! When do you go?

  • meri

    I didnt make it to morocco, but that sounds an awful lot like my experiences traveling around/ living in spain 🙂 I’ve tried those vita cakes too, I think they are decent for a quick chocoalte fix.

  • Melinda B

    Sevilla is my favorite city in Spain, followed closely by Granada. So jealous you lived there. I love this dish, and I love Moroccan food. I was impressed my tagine made it home in one piece when I left Marrakech.

  • Kristen @ Swanky Dietitian

    Morocco sounds amazing! I would love to travel there!
    I went to Italy in college and it was just amazing!

  • Andrea@WellnessNotes

    Sounds like a wonderful adventure! But the mom in me immediately thought about all the things that could have happened to you… The stew sounds wonderful. Love how food brings back memories!

    Hope you had a great weekend, and have a great week!

  • Sues

    This looks awesome and I absolutely love foods that can bring you back to happy times. I visited Norway right before college and am obsessed with it… The food wasn’t the best, but I’d love to go back now (now that I have a better appreciation for food) and explore Norway’s culinary world more!

    • Simply Life

      I would LOVE to visit Norway!!

  • Anonymous

    Haha, I love your story! Morocco sounds amazing, and so does this stew!

    It’s not quite as exciting (or not as different from where I grew up at least), but I fell in love with Norway – I loved the scenery, and most of all the people and the culture. When I got back to the US, I took Norwegian for a year at my university and practiced like crazy. Now I go back to visit my friend there as often as I can, but I have forgotten most of the language unfortunately. Do you still remember your Spanish? Do you get many opportunities to practice?


    • Simply Life

      I would love to visit Norway -that’s great that you still visit and have kept in touch with people!

      Yes, I actually speak Spanish on a daily basis at my job- I love being able to use it!

  • Priya

    Super healthy and definitely satisfying delicious stew..

  • Beth

    We visited Morocco in 2007 and loved it. The food was some of the best I’ve ever had!

  • Anonymous

    I really want to go to Morocco (and everywhere else!), and this stew isn’t helping to dissuade me 🙂

  • Kiran @

    OMG!! You all are simply adventurous & daring — a noteworthy skills in the western society from my observation 😀

    That stew looks incredibly delicious!!!

  • Mom

    I definitely want to make this! Every ingredient agrees with me and it looks filling! Oh (blank), what I would have done without holding on to my cross for the days and adventures I knew about you going on! I’m still grateful all over again after reading about your excursion that you’re back and it’s over with!!!!! Not fair though ‘cuz even though I want you in one safe, steady and comforting place all the time, I want you out everywhere experiencing everything, so I’m glad I didn’t know enough to try and stop you from going and you have this awesome memory!!!!!

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  • Megha Sarin

    WOW! Love your blog <3


    • Simply Life

      Thanks! 🙂

  • Emily @ A Cambridge Story

    Ha – your story about going to Morocco sounds just like the time my brother crossed border’s into Colombia and neglected to tell our parents. The flavors in this dish sounds absolutely amazing. I’ve been making a similar dish with carrots and cauliflower.. but I imagine yours in much more authentic!

    • Simply Life

      Colombia?!?! WOW! Sounds like an adventure! I’d love to hear about that trip!

  • Jenny Morris

    I love moroccan food, this looks delicious!

  • Juniakk

    i remember eating morrocan chickpea stew when i visited spain at a local moroccan restaurant. it was SO good. i am totally bookmarking this!

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