Thai-Soul Fusion Style Kale and Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric

A bowl of stew sitting on a platter with a spoon.
Thai-Soul-fusion-inspired kale and chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric. Photo by author.

I am never one for following recipes — I prefer to improvise in the kitchen like it’s an expression of my soul, not unlike playing solo jazz on an instrument. I’m always coming up with my own unique dishes using up whatever leftovers or neglected food items I have laying around. There are sometimes a few rare disasters. Some of them, half-intentional. Some of them, mistakes. And then again, occasionally, I just want to see how bad doing something crazy in the kitchen can get. But I always learn from my mistakes more than my successes.

I also love the novelty of new food that I’ve never tried before. Therefore, my dishes are rarely repeated. So back when we were still together, I made this dish for my ex-wife on Mother’s Day. She later asked me to make it a regular staple in our home. I was hesitant. I knew I could make a good dish — but whether or not I could make the exact same dish twice was another matter entirely. Fortunately, the first attempt was a major hit and she managed to talk me into writing it all down that same day. As a motivator, she mentioned that it could easily be a signature dish at a restaurant. Flattery? Maybe. Maybe not. We’re not on good terms at the moment, but I’d like to be someday — strictly business-like, amicable, co-parenting terms, of course. I remembered that I saved this recipe by publishing it on my Facebook feed. After much digging, I managed to find it so that I could publish it here on Medium in order for her (and anyone else) to have access to it. Maybe she might someday want to make it for herself and our daughter. Or maybe not. If not, then hey, that’s just one more thing we don’t have in common anymore. I still think it was pretty good, even if it was mostly her that said so.

As for my other readers, if this Thai-Soul fusion stew finds a place at your dinner table, please let me know! I would love to hear your feedback!


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 inches), finely chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 large bunches of kale, cut into fine strips; stems removed and finely diced
  • 1 box of instant stuffing mix
  • 1 rib of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 3 parsley springs, finely chopped
  • Peanut oil (amount may vary)


Step 1

  • Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add garlic, onion, and ginger.
  • Saute onions by cooking on low heat for about 15 until they begin to caramelize.
  • As onions begin to brown and stick to the pan, add chopped kale stems and saute for another 10 minutes.

Step 2

  • Add 3 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • Add 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Add chickpeas
  • Continue to saute the mixture, stirring frequently until the chickpeas begin to break down and brown; about 20 minutes

Step 3

  • Using a wooden spoon or spatula, crush chickpeas slightly to help thicken the stew
  • Add coconut milk and stock
  • Add more salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring to simmer, scraping any bits that have formed on the bottom
  • Cook, stirring occasionally until stew has thickened; about 40 minutes
  • After 40 minutes, check consistency; keep cooking until at desired thickness

Step 4

  • Add kale, one handful at a time, submerging each handful in liquid
  • Cook until kale is wilted and softened; about 10 minutes
  • Add more salt and pepper to taste

Step 5

  • In a separate pot, saute celery and scallion
  • Prepare the box of instant stuffing mix according to the directions, substituting any butter for peanut oil; add to pot with sauteed vegetables, but don’t yet add breadcrumbs.
  • Add breadcrumbs and fresh finely chopped parsley to the pot and let stand according to directions on the box

Step 6

  • When warm but cool enough to handle, use your hands to form large round balls of stuffing, about two to three inches in diameter
  • Ladle stew into bowls and set the ball of stuffing in the center of each bowl
  • The consistency of the stew should be thick enough to support the stuffing without it sinking

On a side note, this dish was heavily influenced by Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric. Again, I’m not one for following recipes, so I’ve never made this dish myself. I just skimmed her recipe once and was inspired to create my own. But, if the internet-famous marketing and high view count of the below video are reliable indicators of quality, then it’s got to be good. Right?

Be the first to compare mine to hers and let me know in the comments which is the best!

Alison Roman’s internet-famous chickpea stew walkthrough video.
If you like this post, another cup of joe from a fan like you would certainly go a long way towards encouraging me to write another one like it. Drop by, say “Hi,” and let me know your ideas about topics you might like to read about. You could be the spark of inspiration I need to write about something even more awesome!

Mark Havens is the Founder and Executive Director of Dallas Maker Community (DMC), a nonprofit organized to bootstrap Dallas Makerspace, the largest all-volunteer makerspace in the United States. DMC continues reformed efforts to provide maker-focused marketing and makerspace leadership education to other maker-centric organizations throughout North Texas.



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Mark Randall Havens

Mark Randall Havens


Executive Director of Dallas Maker Community; Founder & Founding Director of Dallas Makerspace.