This Vegan Tagine with Chickpeas is the perfect one-pot wholesome dinner.
Bold Moroccan spices, a healthy blend of vegetables, chickpeas, and dried fruit transform into a luscious and indulgent stew. Plus, it’s easy to make, packed with anti-inflammatory goodness, and will leave you with plenty of leftovers for freezer meals.
Table of contents:
1. What is a tagine?
2. Why this recipe works
3. Ingredient notes
4. Step-by-step instructions
5. Tips for making this recipe
7. Frequently Asked Questions
8. Recipe card with notes
What is a tagine?
A tagine or tajine is a wide-based clay cooking pot with a cone-shaped lid. Its iconic shape traps steam and moisture in the tall, conical-shaped lid, which drips back down onto the meat or vegetable stew. This method, popular in Morocco and throughout North Africa, creates tender and deeply flavorful stews.
This meal itself, which is named after the cooking pot, is a type of aromatic stew that blends sweet and savory flavors and features soft chunks of vegetables and/or meat, sometimes legumes, redolent with spices, and lightly perfumed with dried fruit.
The cone-shaped tagine pot is ideal for making tagine recipes, but a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid works very well too.
Why this recipe works
Rich and cozy but nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory.
Chickpea tagine is a cozy yet nutrient-dense stew, just like my Vegan Gambian Peanut Stew. It’s made with a thoughtful blend of anti-inflammatory ingredients (vegetables, legumes, and spices) and is cooked low and slow.
The finished result is a wholesome and deeply comforting meal with a velvety, rich consistency. It’s also allergen-friendly! Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free!
Loads of warm spiced flavor.
Any good tagine is heavily scented with aromatic spices, and this one is no different. Sweet-adjacent spices like cinnamon and ginger bring out the subtle sweetness of butternut squash and contrast with the earthy chickpeas and more warming spices, like cumin and turmeric.
The star, however, is the ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend that infuses a complex sweet warmth and pungency into every bite.
To finish, dollops of a 2-minute vegan yogurt sauce are added on top of each serving. The cooling nature balances the warmth of the spices and helps this vegan stew taste even more indulgent.
An easy big batch meal.
This is a one-pot recipe that’s easy and straightforward to make and leaves you with enough for 6 people. Once it’s in the oven, you can leave it alone for 40 minutes.
Spend that time doing whatever else needs getting done in your busy life, or focus on preparing the sides, like couscous, rice, freekeh, or homemade flatbread.
I’ve included a few time-saving tips in the Tips section to help you prep the vegetables and aromatics days ahead of time, helping you get this meal on the table faster.
Enjoy the batch for big family dinners or keep the leftovers in the fridge or freezer for later. The flavors only get better over time, making this a fantastic meal prep option.
Plain ol’ canned chickpeas will do just fine and add great plant protein and fiber to every bite. They cook down beautifully in the moist covered pan to eventually become luscious and plump.
Tip: For an extra flavorful tagine, cook the beans from scratch. Use ½ pound or 230g of dried chickpeas. Cook them ahead of time using your Instant Pot or on the stove.
For plenty of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and a subtle earthy sweetness that balances the acidity of the tomatoes and compliments the sweetness of the dates. When cooked down, it gives the stew a delicate and velvety body.
Ras el hanout
Think of this as the heart and soul of tagines. Ras el hanout translates to “head of shop” in Arabic and is a staple spice blend in Moroccan cooking.
There are countless variations of this complex, earthy, and pungent yet slightly sweet and floral spice blend. A store-bought mix works well for me and gets plenty of use in more dishes, like roasted vegetables, soups and stews, and salad. For more uses for ras el hanout, check out this post from NY Shuk.
Where to buy: Well-stocked grocery stores like Whole Foods, spice shops, Middle Eastern markets, or online. I use NY Shuk ras el hanout, but you can also order it on Amazon or other smaller specialty spice shops like Spicewalla.
Substitute: If you can’t find store-bought ras el hanout, make it yourself! This recipe from a Moroccan food writer uses common spices and is quick and easy to put together.
We tested this recipe with just ground cinnamon and then a combination of ground cinnamon and a whole cinnamon stick, and the latter version had a noticeably better aroma and flavor. Just one cinnamon stick is all you need!
In addition to the ras el hanout, this recipe uses spices commonly found in North African cuisine, like cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, bay leaves, and black pepper. They’re important for a balance of flavor and add even more anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
Onion and red bell pepper
These two aromatics lend a savory sweet base to this tagine. Red bell pepper in particular adds a bright and fresh subtle sweetness, and of course, more good-for-you antioxidants and vitamins.
Just a small can of crushed tomatoes. For even more flavor, use half of a 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes and crush them with your hands.
Medjool dates. Dried fruit is a staple in tagine recipes, adding the necessary sweet element and a chewy texture. Medjool dates work amazingly well here, adding a bite of caramel-like sweetness and chewiness (plus anti-inflammatory phytonutrients).
Substitute: For a sweetness that’s a bit more tart, use ½ to ¾ cup golden raisins or 6 to 10 finely chopped dried apricots.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven, braising pan, or the base of a tagine pan (use a heat diffuser to prevent the pot from cracking). Once hot, add the onions and cook until they’re golden brown.
Add the garlic, bell pepper, and cinnamon stick. Cook for a few more minutes.
Sprinkle the ras el hanout and other ground spices over top and stir well. Toast for 30 to 60 seconds, stirring almost constantly, to help bring out their hidden flavors.
Deglaze the pot with a splash of broth, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the pan.
Add the remaining broth, as well as the diced squash, chickpeas, salt, tomatoes, bay leaves, and dates.
Bring it up to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add a generous glug of olive oil and stir to combine.
Place the lid on top and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the mixture is thick and stew-like.
While you wait, make the yogurt sauce and cook any sides, like couscous or toast pita or lavash bread.
Take the pot out of the oven and allow to cool. Once it’s ready, spoon the stew into bowls topped with yogurt sauce, chopped parsley or cilantro, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
Tips for making this recipe
No tagine pot? No worries.
A Dutch oven or braising pan with a tight-fitting lid will work just as well. If your pot doesn’t have a lid, cover it very tightly with foil before baking.
Prep in advance if you want.
You can start preparing this chickpea tagine ahead of time if you want to save some time on the night of cooking.
The yogurt sauce stores nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and the veggies can be chopped and stored in separate containers in the fridge for a few days as well. Mix the spices together and keep them in a sealed bag or jar on the kitchen counter.
With all of this prep out of the way, you’ll only need to be in the kitchen for about 15 minutes!
Dice the squash finely.
A rough chop or regular dice just won’t do. The squash needs a fine dice; otherwise, it won’t soften in the allotted 40-minute bake time. Check out the photo below to see how small to cut the squash.
Easiest way to finely dice squash: Cut butternut squash in half, crosswise and use the top skinny neck portion of the squash. Peel it first. Now, stand the squash up on a cutting board, and use a large, sharp knife to cut the squash into slabs from top to bottom. From here, it’s easy to finely dice the slabs.
Quickest way to prep squash: Peel the squash and roughly chop (it helps if the pieces are about the same size). Add to your food processor. Pulse several times until the squash is in small pieces. They won’t be all evenly sized but it gets the job done.
The beauty of a tagine, like other vegan stews, is that the flavors are fun and easy to customize. These ideas will help you get started:
- For more sweetness: Go heavy on the dates (6 Medjool dates). Or use golden raisins or apricots instead of dates for a tart sweetness. A pinch of saffron added along with the broth can also infuse a complex floral note.
- For less sweetness: Use only 2 to 3 dates.
- Swap the squash: For any winter squash, or even sweet potatoes (just go easy on the dates, as sweet potatoes will add more sweetness).
- Add more veggies: If you have leftover cauliflower in the fridge, add a few handfuls along with the squash. Or, add a couple carrots along with the red bell pepper.
- Swap the chickpeas. While I think chickpeas work best here, if you have some white beans that need using up instead, use those instead.
- The garnish: Finish with scallions instead of parsley or cilantro.
Frequently Asked Questions
The leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. They also freeze well! I recommend freezing it in single-serve portions using Souper Cubes (affiliate link) for quick defrosting in the fridge.
Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat to loosen the consistency. If it’s still too thick, add a splash of water or vegetable broth until you get your desired texture.
You can spoon the tagine over a bed of couscous (pearl couscous would be my preference) or any grain, such as farro, wheat berries, barley, freekeh, or rice.
Or, even better, serve it alongside warm flatbread, like pita or lavash, and scoop up every last bite. If you have extra time, serve with my Homemade Vegan Naan for an epic pairing!
And while the yogurt sauce is optional, I like to serve it on the side for the perfect cooling element.
I haven’t tested it, but the slow cooker method should work just as well. Complete steps 1 to 3 on the stove, then finish the rest in a crockpot. Cook on High for 3 to 4 hours or Low for 6 to 7 hours.
I haven’t tested that either, but this recipe is inspired by the Instant Pot version of Butternut Squash Chickpea Tagine from my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, so be sure to check that recipe out!
If you love this Vegan Tagine with Chickpeas, please be sure to leave a rating and review below! It’s always much appreciated :) And tag me on Instagram – I love seeing your feedback!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional) (see Note 1)
- 2 cups (480 mL) vegetable broth
- 3 cups peeled and finely diced butternut squash (400g) (see Note 2)
- 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- 1 (14.5-ounce/410g) can crushed tomatoes
- 3 to 6 large Medjool dates, chopped (see Note 3)
- 1 medium lemon, zested + 1 tablespoon juice
- 1 big handful of flat-leaf parsley (or cilantro) leaves and tender stems, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout (see Note 4)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, ½ tsp for some good heat)
- A generous crack of black pepper
- A pinch of ground cloves
Yogurt Sauce for serving (optional)
- 5 ounces (140g) plain vegan yogurt
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste depending on your yogurt brand
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375º/190ºCF. Arrange an oven rack to fit a Dutch oven (or tagine pan, if you have one) or braising pan.
- Stir together the spices for the Spice Mix.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and season with a pinch of salt. Cook until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes, adding a splash of water as needed to deglaze the pan and prevent the onions from burning. Add the bell pepper, garlic, and cinnamon stick, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the Spice Mix and stir vigorously for 1 minute. If it starts to dry out, add a splash of water.
- Pour in some of the broth to deglaze the pot and scrape up any browned bits. Add the remaining broth, squash, chickpeas, bay leaves, salt, tomatoes, and dates. Stir, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, and drizzle with a nice glug of olive oil, and stir again to combine. Place the lid on the pan and ensure it’s fitted tightly.a. NOTE: If you don’t have a lid for your pan, cover tightly with foil.
- Transfer to the oven and bake, covered, for 40 minutes, or until squash is tender and the mixture is thick and stew-like.
- Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce (or make 1-2 days ahead of time and refrigerate). In a bowl, stir together the yogurt, lemon juice, salt to taste, and coriander. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- For the best flavor, cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in half of the zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste, adding more lemon zest or juice as desired.
- Serve in bowls topped with yogurt sauce, chopped parsley or cilantro, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- If not using a cinnamon stick, increase the ground cinnamon to 1 teaspoon in the Spice Mix.
- It’s important to finely dice the squash so it cooks through in the time allotted. The easiest method: cut butternut squash in half, crosswise and use the top skinny neck portion of the squash. Peel it first. Now, stand the squash up on a cutting board, and use a large, sharp knife to cut the squash into slabs from top to bottom. From here, it’s easy to finely dice the slabs. For a faster method, use your food processor (instructions are in the Tips section).
- I’ve included a range in the number of dates so you can tailor the tagine to your desired sweetness. For a bite of sweet in every spoon, use 6 Medjool dates.
- Ras el hanout is the heart of a tagine! A store-bought version works just fine (I love the blend from NY Shuk), and you can find it at well-stocked grocery stores like Whole Foods, spice shops, Middle Eastern markets, or online. If you can’t find it, there’s a simple homemade recipe for ras el hanout in the Ingredient Notes section.
Recipe: Nisha Vora / Rainbow Plant Life | Photography: Megan Morello