I’ve used Thai basil in various dishes before but my latest one, Thai Basil Chickpeas in Rich Tomato Sauce, is without a doubt my most successful recipe using this delicious, aromatic herb, and I am very excited to share it with you today.
Thai Basil is a type of basil native to Southeast Asia, with a distinct subtly anise-like flavour and aroma. I bought it for the first time a few years ago, simply out of curiosity, not knowing what it tasted like, but as it was called ‘basil’ I had no doubt I’d like it. When I opened the package and smelled anise I was a bit surprised, to say the least. I thought I was going to make an Italian dish with it but this herb smelled nothing like basil (by the way, did you know that basil, popularised by Italian cuisine, is believed to be native to India?)!
The first few times I bought Thai basil it didn’t blow me away in any of the dishes I tentatively added it to. They were mostly salads and some pasta dishes (I kept thinking Italian). So with this dish I took a different approach and created an Asian inspired recipe, using ginger, garlic and coconut oil. As it turned out it was the perfect fit for my Thai basil!
These Thai Basil Chickpeas in Rich Tomato Sauce are an easy to make, healthy, vegan side dish, which can be enjoyed alongside rice, chicken or fish dishes (here is a selection of hand blenders that might be useful in making this dish). It tastes fantastic with fresh crusty bread too! The sourness of the tomatoes is offset with ‘sweeter’ ingredients, including red onion, ginger, coconut oil and the Thai basil itself. The Thai basil is added to the dish during cooking (as opposed to being scattered on top after the dish has been cooked, which is the case with many herbs) along with the other ingredients, so the entire dish is infused with a delicate, sweet anise-like flavour.
You can make this dish as hot or mild as you like – I used half of a red chilli pepper (without the seeds), so my dish was quite mild, but you can add more heat by using the chilli seeds as well or even using a whole chilli if you like really spicy food!
Most big supermarkets sell Thai basil so you shouldn’t have trouble finding it. Do give it a try, even if anise isn’t your thing (you don’t have to love anise to love this dish!). If you do make this dish I’d love to know your thoughts so do get in touch:)
For more easy and delicious SIDE dishes click < THIS LINK >
I am bringing this recipe to #CookBlogShare, which I happen to be hosting this week (!). If you’ve got a recipe why not bring it to the party too, here is THE LINK
Yields 6 portions
20 minPrep Time
1 hrCook Time
1 hr, 20 Total Time
- 2x400g tins chickpeas, drained
- 1x400g tin tomatoes
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Small piece ginger (approx. 1 tablespoon) finely chopped
- 1/2 red chilli pepper (with or without the seeds)
- 1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons Thai basil (approx. half of a small bunch, leaves only), finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/3 teaspoon allspice powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- Sea salt to taste
- In a medium saucepan heat up the oil, add the bay leaves, garlic, ginger, chilli, onion and celery, stir and fry over a low/medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree, sun-dried tomatoes, Thai basil, coriander and allspice powder, season to taste, stir, cover, bring to boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F/ 200 C/ gas mark 6. You will need a medium size oven dish, about 6 cm deep.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, discard the bay leaves and puree the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Pour the sauce into the oven dish, add the chickpeas, stir through, cover with tin foil and bake for 1 hour.