Persian cauliflower chickpea stew

Rest assured that while it’s been awhile since I’ve talked food, we have been cooking and eating.

A few nights ago, I concocted this one-dish meal (well, okay, two dishes if you count the pan for cooking the grain) from on-hand veggies (fresh garden carrots and garlic, canned garden tomatoes, and farmers’ market cauliflower) plus my desire to work chickpeas into the meal.


Quite awhile ago, I bought a big bag of sumac, a spice commonly used in Persian/Iranian (and perhaps other Middle Eastern?) dishes in order to replicate the delicious veggie kabobs at Cafe Natasha.  I regret to say that my attempt at the kabobs fell short of the real deal.

Anyway, I’ve experimented with the sumac in other dishes since then, and it worked particularly well here, creating a dish that I would be happy to order at Cafe Natasha.

1 cinnamon stick
1 t. sumac
1-2 t. paprika
1/4 t. tumeric
3/4 t. salt
1 quart jar tomatoes and their juice
2 c. chopped carrot
3 c. chopped cauliflower
2-3 c. cooked chickpeas
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bulb of garlic, minced
1 c. dry medium-cut bulgur* or millet
Olive oil for sauteing


Cook bulgur or millet in tomato juice, adding water to make 3 cups of liquid, with a cinnamon stick.

Saute onion in a large cast iron skillet with some olive oil.  After the onion softens, add cauliflower, carrot, garlic, salt, and the spices, plus more oil as needed.  Stir to combine and saute for a few minutes on medium.  Add the tomatoes, plus a bit of water, cover the pan, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables reach desired tenderness.

Serve over cooked grain.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.


I love the ease of [mostly] one dish meals, especially when cooking in cast iron.  I just use a spatula to scrape the pan thoroughly when putting away leftovers, and the pan is ready to use (in my book, anyway) for the next meal.

*Oh, yes, my other reason for making this was using up some ridiculously old bulgur in my pantry.  Mission complete.


  1. EcoCatLady says:

    Wait… stop the presses! There is actually nothing in this recipe that I’m allergic to (OK, well carrots – but if they’re thoroughly cooked and I don’t use too many they’re OK.) This is a miracle!

    I may have to see if I can find some sumac – according to my research it’s in the cashew family, which is a safe one for me allergy-wise. I’m always so excited to find new spices that I can experiment with since my allergies generally mean I’m quite limited in that department.

    This looks delicious, and it’s making me hungry!

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      I meant to note that you could definitely substitute different vegetables. Cubed sweet potatoes or butternut squash could definitely work in place of the carrots. I imagine any large international grocery or perhaps a good spice shop would have sumac. This site (where you can also buy it online) talks about it being a tart flavor, similar to “lemon juice or vinegar but milder and less acidic.” So, while I recommend trying the actual sumac, which is unique, you may be able to create something similar with lemon juice.

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