Braised Harissa Eggplant with Chickpeas

Created by Laura Wright
4.97 from 31 votes

Braised harissa eggplant with chickpeas is an easy vegan and gluten-free main course. Meaty eggplant, simple tomato-y broth, and spices.

BRAISED HARISSA EGGPLANT WITH CHICKPEAS - The First Mess
BRAISED HARISSA EGGPLANT WITH CHICKPEAS - The First Mess


Coming at you with a super simple, quick, and minimal ingredient recipe that features one of my favourite summer crops. I know that eggplant preparation mystifies a lot of people, or maybe they’ve had a bad experience cooking it before. The bitterness or the unusual texture comes up a lot. I’m hoping that I can change some perceptions with this spicy and delicious braised harissa eggplant. “Braise” is a little generous since the finished stew only simmers for about 10 minutes, but hopefully you can forgive me ;)

Aside from the eggplant and showering of herbs, this is a pantry-friendly recipe. Crushed tomatoes and cooked chickpeas fill out this summery stew, and harissa-ish spices make it special. We build harissa flavor in the pot rather than making the paste separately and adding it in. I use a fresh chili, but you could certainly reach for dried if it means avoiding a trip to the store. I served mine over some cooked millet, but brown rice or even pasta would be great. A hunk of bread couldn’t hurt either.

In my slow going mission to reduce plastic in our house, I find myself cooking my own beans or tomatoes when I can, or sourcing store bought ones packed in glass when I need a bit of convenience. I love the jars that Jovial packs their tomatoes and cooked beans in—perfect for re-using, no BPA, and they don’t transfer any strange flavours to the product. I don’t mind the slight bump in cost with these because I value the commitment to a sustainable material and the commitment they have to paying fair wages for everyone in their supply chain.

I also just have to say that their tomatoes taste like pure sunshine. Jovial farmers use organic non-hybridized varieties of tomatoes grown in Tuscany that are packed in less than 24 hours. The flavor is so bright and pure.

While this braise is relatively quick, I personally prefer to salt the eggplant and let it sit for a full hour before cooking. You just toss the eggplant cubes in a good amount of salt and let the eggplant sit in a colander in the sink.

From my experiences, the practice of salting reduces the bitterness, but most importantly it greatly improves the texture. This is especially true if you’re lightly frying the eggplant, which we do in this recipe. The eggplant flesh becomes silky in a way. Take that crisp-silky texture and mix it up with a spicy tomato-y base, some toothsome chickpeas, lemon, and herbs? Late summer perfection if you ask me. Hope you guys love this one!

BRAISED HARISSA EGGPLANT WITH CHICKPEAS - The First Mess
BRAISED HARISSA EGGPLANT WITH CHICKPEAS - The First Mess

Braised Harissa Eggplant with Chickpeas

Braised harissa eggplant with chickpeas is an easy vegan and gluten-free main course. Meaty eggplant, simple tomato-y broth, and spices.
4.97 from 31 votes
BRAISED HARISSA EGGPLANT WITH CHICKPEAS - The First Mess
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus extra
  • 3 tablespoons olive or avocado oil, plus extra if needed
  • 1 medium cooking onion, small dice
  • 1 small chili (such as cayenne or fresno), seeded and minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground caraway
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Notes

  • You can get away with salting the eggplant for a minimum of 30 minutes, but I really recommend giving it the full hour (or up to 1 ½ hours). This looks like a lot of salt, but you’ll be rinsing a lot of it away before the cooking starts.
  • I left the peel on my eggplant, but feel free to remove yours if you prefer it that way.
  • I like a wide and deep braiser-style pot, but a regular soup pot or even a deep skillet will work for this recipe.
  • This braise/stew is an excellent base for all kinds of small-dice summer vegetables like zucchini, green beans, or bell peppers. You could add up to 2 cups along with the onions. You might need an extra few splashes of vegetable stock, but otherwise the recipe should remain the same.
  • I grind the caraway seeds in my spice grinder for this recipe. Not 100% sure if you can buy ground caraway in stores. You can also just leave them whole!
     

Instructions

  • Remove the stem of the eggplant and chop into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a colander and toss them with the tablespoon of salt. Set aside for an hour in the sink.
  • After an hour, rinse the eggplant (to remove excess salt) and thoroughly pat the cubes dry with paper towel or clean kitchen towels.
  • Set up a dinner plate with a couple paper towels on top. In a wide, deep braiser-style pot or deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. In batches, sear the eggplant until it’s golden brown on all sides and softened. As the eggplant finishes, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and place it on the paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
  • If necessary, add more oil to the pot and lower the heat to medium. Add the onions and hot pepper to the pot and sauté until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, caraway, and coriander to the pot and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, some salt and black pepper to taste, and then stir to coat the chickpeas in spices. Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pot.
  • Bring the braise to a boil and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the eggplant back into the pot and bring the braise up to a boil once more. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Serve the braised harissa eggplant hot over millet or rice (or any other starch of choice).

**This post was created in partnership with Jovial Foods. All opinions expressed are my own. Thanks for supporting!

01/08/2018 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, chickpeas, earthy, gluten free, main course, nut free, quick, refined sugar-free, salty, soup, sour, spicy, summer, vegan

47 comments

Recipe Rating




  • NBMaggie

    5 stars
    I’ve opted to roast my eggplant cubes rather than fry them to reduce the fat content. I still cubed, salted and patted them dry but then tossed them in a tablespoon of olive oil before putting them in a 425 F oven for about 25 min., turning them halfway. I’ve also doubled all the ingredients and ramped up the spices beyond the doubling because this freezes well and makes a great meal served over oven-baked brown basmati rice. (I know couscous would be more traditional but I’m going for nutritional density.)

  • Grace C

    5 stars
    YUM! I haven’t done much with eggplant or harissa (I bought a jarred paste) so this has been a delightful first introduction. Does this freeze well? I made this and it’s too much for me as a solo eater. =)

  • Janne

    5 stars
    I want to make this a second time, just pulled 12 lbs eggplant from my garden, has anyone frozen it with good results?

  • Vicki

    5 stars
    Easy and tasty. I didn’t have a pepper, but used a prepared harissa paste at the end to bump up the heat.

  • Rachel

    So delicious! I couldn’t find caraway (!!) so I bought harissa blend. I served it over polenta which worked really well. I was sad I didn’t double the recipe  

  • Monica Yunis

    5 stars
    Delicious… Easy… Healthy… Recipe…

  • Debbie

    5 stars
    Delicious! Great start to the week with a tasty veggie meal! I have only ever used store bought harissa pastes but this also tasted very good. I did not have caraway (rarely ever use it) so I used fennel seeds (whole). I’m sure this changed the taste profile slightly but it turned out well for me. I look forward to exploring the rest of your site.

  • Summer Yule

    5 stars
    Truly enjoyed this meal! The caraway felt unusual here, but it was a really nice touch! 

  • nona

    5 stars
    this is pure comfort food! 

  • Jean

    4 stars
    Lovely flavours but next time I will put nearly double the dried spices. Thanks for sharing the recipe. 

    • Teerna

      5 stars
      I doubled the spices too and it turned out to be great!

  • Tammy

    OMG this  was fantastic! I made a variation though. Instead of using the chili and spices I added a tablespoon of Rose Harissa that I keep on hand. The flavor is amazing!!! Thank you!!!

  • Vanessa

    Thanks for sharing! Does it reheat well?

  • Suzanne

    This looks so good! What a great way to use up eggplant in a filling but plant based dish! 

  • Michelle

    Wow! This is perfect for what the garden is offering up! I just made this, added in some yellow and green courgette and it’s amazing!

    Definitely a repeat recipe! Thank you :)

  • Janaan Domeyer

    I’ve made this recipe before and it’s delicious. Especially during Lent, it’s a go-to meatless option.

    Without a braiser pan, I’ve always used a Dutch Oven. Would there be any benefit to using a skillet vs a Dutch Oven?

    • Laura

      Hi Janaan,
      I think with the skillet, the stew may concentrate and reduce a bit more–but probably not in a super noticeable way. I say if you’ve had good results with Dutch oven, stick with it ;)
      -L

  • Bruce hogge

    I doubled the spices and garlic
    3/4 cup extra tomatoes
    Added sun dried tomatoes 3/4 cup
    Added Romano beans -about a cup
    Added roasted red peppers – 1 cup
    Substituted butter beans

    End result – WOW – so good. Vegan wife and me voted this is a repeat keeper.

    Excellent dish – a meal in a dish – enjoyed with some crusty bread.

  • Kristin

    I have a Harissa spice blend, could I use this in place of the other spices in your recipe?

    • Laura

      Yes definitely!
      -L

  • J3

    I love this recipe, this is the 3rd time I’ve made it. My meat eater husband even loves it. I add a little bit of sugar to cut the acid of the tomatoes I also double the amount of spices, other than that it’s as written. I’ve never cooked with Egg Plant until this recipe…thanks for sharing it.

  • Sarah

    Fabulous! I used less broth in order to make a thicker stew. I also tossed the eggplant in a whisked egg white before frying them. This way the eggplants don’t absorb nearly as much oil : )

  • Julia

    Just wanted to say that i have made this twice now, using a harissa spice blend I still had in my cupboard. Was absolutely delicious and easy to make, and it will probably not be the last time I’ve made it, either ;)
    Had it with pasta and baguette so far, so that leaves any type of grains to try out…
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • Dave Speller

    I made this last night and served it over couscous. it was excellent. I didn’t have a Fresno chile so I used about 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes. heat was just right (my wife doesn’t like dishes that are too hot; me, on the other hand…)

  • Brenda

    This was good. I didn’t have caraway so added sumac. Easy to make.

  • Michelle Ward

    This is a delicious dish! Thank you!

  • Natalie

    What Staub pan is this??

    • Laura

      It’s a 4 quart braiser.
      -L

  • DC

    Great recipe! Seriously can’t wait to eat the left overs.

  • Cassie Autumn Tran

    Eggplant in a delicious harissa sauce is the best combination in the world of eggplant dishes! I have to make this homemade harissa sauce, but I’m certain I’d start making it all the time! Definitely going on my recipe list ASAP!

  • Linda

    This was delicious! I followed the receipt pretty much exactly except that I used a jalapeño pepper because that’s what I had. I ground up the caraway seed in a mini processor and am pretty sure that is what made this taste so special, along with the lemon. So, so good.

  • Catherine

    This is absolutely delicious! I added ground turkey to the onions and pepper before adding the tomato and vegetable stock. I actually used chicken stock instead, too. Thanks!!

  • Billy

    Thanks for this recipe, can’t wait to try it at home! Harissa is definitely one of my faves.

  • Petra Giliomee

    Thank you for the recipe, it was soooo good. Will definitely make it again

  • Tania

    I absolutely love eggplant, so I always want to try recipes where this ingredient features. And this one was delicious! I had it on bruschetta, on pasta and just on its own – it was that good. Thanks Laura, your dishes always inspire me to get into the kitchen and start cooking!

  • Kate S

    Just made this and it is incredible. Even though I discovered I was out of coriander, it’s still super flavorful and delectable. Thank you!!

  • Char

    This dish was delicious…next time i will add some potato to heft it up a bit but the flavours were amazing !!!

    • Lynne

      I added potato as you suggested. Excellent idea!

  • Kim H

    Oh man, that was good. I was out of chili peppers so I substituted red pepper flakes. Otherwise no changes. I will definitely make again. Delicious! And I didn’t realize that I was a caraway fan until I tried Laura’s recipes. Thank you!

  • Ann

    Can I just say I love you and your site? I made this dish last night and it is so delicious! I’ve yet to make anything you post that doesn’t turn out. I don’t know where you get your inspiration, but keep it coming. Your ability to create both depth and layer of flavours is off the charts. Thank you!

  • Nancy

    I can’t seem to find caraway, in seed or ground. I do however have harissa paste at home. How much would I need to use in this recipe to replace the spices?

    • Laura

      Hi Nancy,
      I would start with two tablespoons of the paste, and add more if you think it necessary as you taste the braise. If you’re using paste, you can eliminate the dried spices and the chili (unless you want yours to be a little bit hotter).
      -L

  • The Modern Proper

    Eggplant is definitely one of those vegetables that can be poorly prepared and ruin it forever. Thank you for your tips of salting the eggplant in advance! I’m sure this alone will improve many other recipes for cooks everywhere. This stew looks amazing and I definitely need to make it soon, probably paired with a good baguette.

  • Breanne

    I was looking for a recipe to use the lovely eggplant I’ve seen at the farmers market – this will be it! Excited to try it.

  • Amanda | Whats Cooking

    Laura, when I read this post this morning I knew immediately that I was going to make it for dinner tonight. On my way home from working late(after 8p), I swung by the store to pick up whatever I couldn’t find at the farmer’s market and got to work. This is SOOOO good! It was quick to put together and your treatment of the eggplant was brilliant. The lemon juice and the caraway seeds added so much flavor. This is definitely going into the rotation. Next time I’m adding zucchini. Thank you for sharing. You’ve got such a knack for recipe development. And yes to reducing plastics! It’s good to see smart companies starting to adapt. xo

  • Patricia Scarpin

    I wish I had a bowl of this beautiful food in front of me right now, and it is only 07:30 am. :)

  • Elizabeth

    Oh man, this looks delicious! I’ve not had a veggie stew like this in ages, I’m going to have to get the ingredients next time I head to the shops. Great recipe!