Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Chickpeas with Indian Spices and Dates #recipe by @Leslie Karst

While working on my latest Sally Solari mystery, Murder from Scratch (which is currently on sale on Kindle for only $1.99--see below), I began teaching myself some of the basics of Indian and East Asian cuisine, a style of cooking that features in the book. I quickly learned that, due to all the roasting and grinding of spices required, it can be rather labor-intensive, but the delicious results are well worth the effort. (And in a pinch, you can always use pre-ground spices.) 

This recipe, one I adapted from a piece in the New York Times some years back, is pretty simple to make. And it's definitely a winner--a terrific side dish that would pair nicely with grilled lamb or chicken and a tossed green salad. 

Chickpeas with Indian Spices and Dates 

(serves 6)


 3 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained (reserving liquid)

2 black cardamom pods

1/3 cup canola oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2½ tablespoons tomato paste

9 dried dates, pitted and chopped

4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cayenne 

1 teaspoon black pepper 

2 whole star anise, or 1⁄3 teaspoon ground.


Start by prepping your spices and other flavoring agents. Crack the cardamom pods with the flat of a knife,

and then grind (a coffee grinder works, as does a mortar and pestle) the black seeds inside, along with the anise seed (I used regular anise—which is similar, but not related botanically, to star anise—as that was all I could find on short notice):

Next, chop up the garlic, onion, and dates:

Sauté the onion in the oil until it starts to brown, and then add the garlic and let it cook for another minute or so. Next goes in the tomato paste,

and then the dates, and all the spices (cardamon, anise, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and salt):

Sauté for another couple of minutes, and then stir in the chickpeas:

Add 1/4 cup  of the reserved liquid from the chickpeas to the pan (or enough to make the dish slightly soupy), cook a few more minutes, and it’s done. This recipe is best made a few hours before the meal, to allow the flavors to blend:

🍒 🌿 🍋

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 
An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Leslie’s website
Leslie also blogs with Chicks on the Case
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Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, the Lefty Award-nominated MURDER FROM SCRATCH:
“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine (featured pick)

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Bookshop.


And check out this great Kindle deal on for Murder from Scratch!

Dying for a TasteA Measure of Murder, and Murder from Scratch are also available as AUDIOBOOKS from Audible!


  1. Chickpeas with Indian Spices and Dates sounds like a wonderful dish. One I would love to try my hand at. Thanks!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. This does sound really tasty.
    I think I'll skip the anise, though. that's one flavor (along with any noticeable amount of clove) that I just don't like.