This chickpeas recipe is my favorite recipe with chickpeas. To be honest, I love everything that has to do with chickpeas or legumes in general. I have tried many different recipes from various places in the world, and I couldn’t decide which one is the best until I tried this one.
You see, my father is a religious man, and he visits Mount Athos every year. When he talks about his experience living with monks in a monastery and he always speaks with awe about the Mount Athos diet. So, before his last visit, I asked him to bring back his favorite monastery recipe to try at home. And he got me this clay-baked chickpeas recipe, which became our favorite winter dish.
If you haven’t heard it before, Mount Athos, or Holy Mountain, is the cradle of Orthodox Christianism. It is an autonomous and self-governed territory of Northern Greece, occupying the whole of the third peninsula of Halkidiki. The Monastic State of the Holy Mountain is a religious community of approximately 2,000 monks. There are 20 monasteries, some of which are 1.000 years old, cells in caves, or between the rocks, towers, domes, belfries, chants, etc. It is listed in UNESCO’s WORLD HERITAGE MONUMENTS.
Mount Athos Monastery Recipes
You might wonder, what are Mount Athos recipes? Let me explain. Apart from its holiness and the monasteries, Mount Athos is famous for the monastery recipes and diet.
Monastery diet is very famous in Greece, and you can try it in almost all monasteries during eating hours. It is based on vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, seafood, and anything that comes from Mother Earth, while monks are not allowed to eat meat thought the yeat. Fish is kept for festive celebrations, like Easter.
The monks describe the monastic diet as a crossroads of culinary knowledge and experiences. When the monks move to Mount Athos, they carry with them the traditions and the recipes of their homelands. Those traditions and local recipes are shaped by local elements and have produced the monastic recipes of Mount Athos, a kind of cooking with a distinctive character.
Unfortunately, women are not allowed to visit Mount Athos, so I never had the chance to try their famous monastery recipes for myself. Fortunately, my dad visits it every year, so I try the monastery recipes at home!
Chickpeas Recipe from Mount Athos
Most chickpeas recipes in Greece include tomato juice but not this one. The chickpeas recipe from Mount Athos is lemony with fresh herbs and a bit spicy for winter’s cold days.
I strongly recommend using fresh chickpeas and not canned. I know it’s trouble to remember to soak them in water from the previous day, but trust me, the taste will pay you back. In all monastery recipes, the monks use fresh herbs as they grow them by themselves. I also grow my own herbs on my balcony, so I used fresh rosemary and oregano. I promise, nothing can beat the aromas of fresh herbs!
Finally, my last advice is patience. Greek recipes and greek cooking require patience and time, as every good food. If you don’t have the time, I suggest you pick another recipe for the day. Don’t try to cook the chickpeas in higher temperatures, or you will miss the whole point of a monastery recipe from Mount Athos. As my dad says, “there is fast food, slow food, and monk food.”
Clay-Baked Chickpeas Recipe from Mount Athos
- Clay pot
- 250 gr chickpeas soaked in water for 12 hours
- 1 white onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 chili pepper diced
- 1 bay leaf
- rosemary fresh
- oregano fresh
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 lemon
- 100 gr greek olive oil extra virgin
- Soak the chickpeas in water for 12 hours. Wash them and let them drain before boiling them.
- In a pot, add 1.5 ltrs water, the rosemary, 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ lemon juice and bring to boil.
- When the water is boiled, remove the resemary and add the chickpeas and let them boil for 45' in medium-high heat.
- Chop your vegetables and add them to the clay pot. Then, add the olive oil, the rest ½ lemon juice, the bay leaf, the oregano, and salt and pepper.
- Put the clay pot in the oven and preheat them to 200°C.
- When the chickpeas are boiled, remove them from the water and add them to the clay pot.
- Add 1 cup of the boiling water to the clay pot and keep the rest water for later in case you need to add some.
- Put the clay in the oven, reduce temperature to 160°C, and cook for 2 hours. After the 1st hour check if you need to add extra water and add the cumin.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with feta cheese.