This is embarrassing. In telling you how this stew came to be, I'm going to have to admit that I ran out of onions. What self respecting housewife runs out of onions? At the beginning of the week?

Well, I did. I could pretend that I intentionally came up with an onion-less stew recipe. That I thought it would be an interesting challenge to prepare a stew without onions. But the truth is that I simply ran out of this very basic staple. And since onions forms the basis of almost every cooked item I prepare, I had to think outside of the mesh bag box. So I thought garlic. Lots and lots of garlic.

Since I buy garlic in bulk at Costco, there's (almost) never a shortage of it in my home. I peeled and peeled and then chopped and chopped. And guess what? It worked! Fifteen cloves later, this stew was amazingly rich and flavored. I recommend it even if you have a bag full of onions at hand (as every housewife should).

Indian Inspired Vegetable Stew
This was perfect served with plain Greek yogurt and tortilla chips. But then I'm always looking for any excuse to eat yogurt and tortilla chips at meals. It feels sinful. 

2 tablespoons olive oil
10-15 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon black or aleppo pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
an entire head of celery, chopped coarsely
6 carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks (I like them nice and large)
1/2 cup barley
2 cans chickpeas, or 1/2 bag dried chickpeas soaked overnight

Heat the oil in a large pot (I used my Le Creuset stock pot) over medium-low heat. Add the chopped garlic and mustard and cumin seeds. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until your kitchen is smelling lovely and the seeds are beginning to pop.

Add the remaining spices and the salt and cook for another minute, stirring, to incorporate all those lovely seasonings.

Add the vegetables, barley, chickpeas and enough water to cover. If you're using canned beans, cook for about 2 hours. Dried beans may need longer to really soften up (I cooked mine gently for close to four hours).

Serve as a main dish with some plain yogurt and tortilla chips.  Oh, did I mention that it freezes really well? Freeze anything you have left for another time. It's great a as a side dish next to meat or fish.