Moroccan Spice Chickpea And Spinach

by | Jan 7, 2013 | 21 comments

As a child, I lived in a tiny bustling suburb of Bombay. It was called Thane. We had a market. The market was an all encompassing term for a massive area that housed row after row of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers under a tin shed. There was a fish market in a dark dungeon-like structure a few skips away. And there was a beehive of a spice market between the fresh produce and the fish vendors that made your nose prickle a mile away.

Moroccan Spice Mix - Cook Republic 

All paths snaking through these three hubs were lined with street vendors selling their wares on wooden carts, from massive woven baskets and entire shops balanced precariously on vintage bicycles. Once a year, my mum used to laboriously roast several large containers of whole spices. We used to then carry them to the spice market weaving our way through colourful mountains of ground spices on display. I was too short to reach the garland of whole spices suspended from wooden beams all along the paths,  garlands that all grown ups ducked around as they walked. 

Moroccan Spice Mix - Cook Republic 

The gentle grating of the giant stone spice mill would become increasingly loud as we neared the spice mill. The extreme prickle in my nostrils and the urge to cough were indicators that we had reached our destination. The garam masala was the key to our everyday culinary escapades and the spice man would get a set of specific instructions from mum, so he dare not take the task of grinding our blend lightly. We would hand over the precious big spice jars like babies being dropped off at nanna’s and head off to browse exotic bangles and tea leaves and mosquito nets (oh the adventures we had every day!).

Moroccan Spice Mix - Homemade Ras-el-hanout 

If garam masala had a long lost cousin from Africa, it would be the Moroccan spice mix. Also known as Ras-el-hanout, this famous blend originating in North Africa is a complex blend of over 30 spices, herbs and roots ground together in a mesmerising mix. It is great for elevating meats and robust vegetarian dishes. In today’s power packed recipe, I have drawn out the flavour of chickpea and spinach using a simple homemade Morrocan spice blend that would have rivalled the old spice mill from my childhood. It is very basic and absolutely fuss free.

Moroccan Spice Chickpea And Spinach - Cook Republic 

The Moroccan spice mix is easy to make from store bought spice grounds. I love the abundance of cumin in my North Indian and Morrocan dishes, but you can make this blend your own by varying the amounts of different spices to your liking. The quantity below fills up a small jar which is so handy to have in the pantry. And what do you know, it would make a great gift too!






Spinach and chickpea come together beautifully in this quick spiced Moroccan-inspired curry for a high energy, nutrient filled lunch.

Makes – To Serve 2


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons Moroccan Spice (see below)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice of half a lemon
handful of coriander leaves to garnish



Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and chili for about 5 minutes until soft. Add Moroccan spice. Mix well.

Add tomato paste. Cook for a minute. Add the spinach and chickpeas. Cook, stirring occasionally until spinach has wilted (about 3 to 4 minutes). Remove from heat.

Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with coriander. Serve hot with Turkish bread and a dollop of yoghurt.


My Notes

Add chopped pancetta or bacon when you stir fry the onion for a lovely variation.

Reduce tomato paste to just 1 tablespoon and stir through toasted pine nuts and cranberries for a robust salad.







Moroccan Spice (Makes approximately 10 tablespoons)

5 tablespoons ground cumin
5 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric


Combine all ingredients in a dry bowl. Mix well. Store in air tight container in a cool corner of your pantry for a month or two. Use as required.




Find More Recipes By CategoryCafe Style Main Course Vegetarian



I love creating easy, vibrant, fresh, everyday recipes and taking gorgeous photos of the food I cook. I have been blogging for 15 years and I have also written a book with over 100 new recipes. If you make a recipe from the blog, Tag @cookrepublic on Instagram. I would love to see!


  1. Rosa

    A deliciously spicy, mouthwatering and healthy dish! A fabulous combo.



  2. Vija

    Looks delicious

  3. Karin@yumandmore

    Oh Sneh I can literally smell the spices off the page!!
    Gorgeous photos and a delicious recipe!!

  4. Lail | With A Spin

    Love how you depicted the market picture! The chickpea sounds mouthwatering!

    Recently found you and love your blog. Following you from now on.

  5. Vijitha Shyam

    Simple yet a flavor packed dish. I love the spices in it. Gorgeous clicks as always.

  6. Kankana

    Nothing like home made spices. It’s always so fresh and much more flavorful! And you are right this moroccan spice blend does resemble garam masala a lot!

  7. Nicola Galloway

    Thanks for sharing your aromatic memory of the spice market. I could almost smell it from here. And thanks for the ras-el-hanout recipe. I have been wanting to make it but often found the ingredient list too long with items I can’t source. Thanks kindly, Nicola

  8. Tina @ bitemeshowme

    Wow, those spices are just so captivating. Your photography is amazing. I can only imagine how fantastic the chickpea and spinach taste.

  9. Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    I absolutely love the spice blend you used with the chickpeas!

  10. Eha

    Have just printed out your Moroccan Spice Mix: what a joy! I have always bought all of mine, but the pleasure of making one’s own fresh is very welcome!! And do love the recipe you have made with it!

  11. Jennifer (Delicieux)

    Oh Sneh, this looks fabulous! I love chickpeas and that spice mix sounds absolutely divine.

  12. chinmayie @ love food eat

    Love how creative you are with styling. What I like the most about your style of photography is how they look unique and beautifully styled without looking over the top.
    Great work once again 🙂

  13. Rose from Magpie's Recipes

    mmm I can smell that spice market! Have been to the spice warehouses in Cochin and even some store houses that are no longer functioning still smell of what they once contained! Love spices and this mix looks so enticing! Will be trying!

  14. la domestique

    I love this post so much- the wonderful story of your childhood, the spice blend and the chickpea dish! I’ve always got chickpeas close at hand, and often whip up a little pantry meal that’s very similar to this one. I look forward to giving your version a try.

  15. foodwanderings

    At a first glance I thought it was Indian Chana Masala. Love the recipe for the spice mix and that last photo is incredible!

  16. Denise

    This recipe is perfect – all the flavorings we love!!

  17. Abigail

    looks delicious. I love your blog and the photos on it! You probably could use those lovely bangles as napkin rings too 🙂
    P.S. I just made your recipe for the blueberry coconut lassi for breakfast this morning & it was delish

  18. Jessica

    This was so simple and yummy! Thanks

  19. Cathy

    This sounds wonderful! Would I be able to use frozen spinach in this recipe?

  20. Irene

    Beautiful meal thanks Sneh! Just made it as a quick pre movie dinner. It was so quick to make but so tasty!


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