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Spicy carrot and chickpea pita pocket

Pita pockets are most commonly filled with meat shwarmas or felafels. But there is a world of pita pockets in numerous cuisines across the Middle East that are quite different and delicious. I am posting a distinct vegetarian/vegan version for those tired of the norm.

This pita pocket plays with traditional flavours, such as paprika, but uniquely. The carrots and chickpeas form the filling base, and the paprika both flavours and spices them. It is essential to use a good smoked and spicy paprika, or a combination of both, so the pita pocket is not dull. The textures are lovely with a bite from both the ingredients. This is a pita pocket most meat eaters will also love.

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1/4 cup chickpeas, soaked in 5 cups water overnight

4 cups water

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 small bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into circles or half-moons

2 garlic cloves, minced

Zest of 1 orange

1 teaspoon spicy smoked paprika, or to taste

Juice of 1/2-3/4 orange

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Pita bread halved

Plain yoghurt

Drain the chickpeas and add to a pot with the water, garlic, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil and scoop off any scum. Simmer for 30-40 minutes till the chickpeas are cooked through but still retain a bite. You do not want them to get too mushy. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oils in a large frying pan. Add the cumin and fry for 10 seconds. Add the carrots and sautèe on high heat. Toss the carrots often so they brown evenly.

When the carrots are browned in spots, turn the heat down to low. Add the garlic and orange zest and cook for 1 minute until the garlic no longer smells raw.

Add the cooked chickpeas, paprika, and orange juice and toss the carrots and chickpeas well with the paprika and juice. Cook on very low heat until the orange juice thickens and coats the carrots stickily.

To serve, smear some plain yoghurt onto the inside of a pita bread. Heat the carrot-chickpea mix and stuff it into the pita. Serve immediately before the pita gets soggy.

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