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Chickpeas with spinach and lemon rice

Greek cuisine is all about island life, fresh ingredients, loads of seafood, and light flavours. However, Greek cuisine also has a myriad of vegetarian dishes. The most popular are dolmas, flavoured rice wrapped in vine leaves. Here is another lovely dish that highlights the region's flavours.

This is a dish with beautiful flavours and textures. The rice is lightly scented with smoked paprika and lime juice and forms the base of the dish. The spinach and chickpeas add texture and healthy flavours, the earthiness of the spinach and the nuttiness of the chickpeas. Together, this dish is lovely, hearty, and a showpiece on the table. You can serve it as a carbohydrate or as a meal by itself.

This contemporary cookbook on Greek food is a work of art, with beautiful photographs and a wealth of traditional recipes that have been reimagined. So far, I have cooked a few recipes from here, such as Greek avocado toast, and they have all been amazing. I highly recommend this cookbook for chefs who are looking to break out of traditional Greek cuisine and want something new for everyone else. For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the chickpeas:

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in 8 cups water overnight

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 small bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

8 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

5-18 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 green chilli, minced, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

4 tomatoes, finely diced

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 lb spinach, leaves only, finely chopped

A handful of dill, minced

Juice of 1 lemon or 1 1/2 limes

For the lemon rice:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 cup long-grain rice

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Water or vegetable broth, as needed

Juice of 1 lemon/1 1/2 limes

Zest of 1 lime

3 tablespoons dill, minced, mostly to mix into the rice and some to garnish

Drain the chickpeas and add to a small pot with the garlic, bay leaf, salt, and water. Bring to a boil and scoop off any scum. Simmer for 25-35 minutes till the chickpeas are just cooked through but still retain a firm bite. Drain, discard the bay leaf and set the chickpeas aside for later.

Add the oil to a deep large frying pan or wok. Add the scallions, garlic and green chillies and fry for 3-4 minutes till the scallions are soft. Add the cumin and give a quick turn. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook on low heat till the tomatoes are broken down and you have a sauce, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooked chickpeas and mix in well. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 3-4 minutes. You want the spinach to retain its bright green colour and not be overcooked and drab. Add the dill and juice and mix in well. Take off the flame.

To make the rice, in a frying pan add the oil and onions. sauté over low heat till the onions are soft and translucent. Remove from the heat.

Add the rice to a rice cooker or a pot. Add the onions, paprika, and water/stock until the top of the first digit on your index finger. Mix well and cook until the rice is done. Fluff with the juice, zest of lime/lemons, and dill.

To serve, add the rice to the centre of a platter. Surround with the spinach-chickpea mix. Garnish with the dill. Serve hot.

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