Maydan’s Omani-style chickpeas are a buttery, garlicky weeknight treat

March 1, 2024

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Lately, in these waning days of winter, I’ve been daydreaming about my favorite comfort meals. , , , — food that makes you go mmm. New to my list is this bowl of warm, saucy, garlicky, buttery chickpeas. Known as dango in Oman, this version was adapted from the recipe in Rose Previte’s “.”

Previte is the founder and owner of several restaurants, including D.C.’s and . I’ve been to Maydan only once, but it was a memorable experience. Though the restaurant opened more than six years ago, getting a table is still a challenge. Absent a reservation, a friend and I arrived 45 minutes early and stood in line with a few dozen others. When the doors opened, we were lucky to get the last two seats at the bar. Among the dishes we ordered was one called dango, described simply as “chickpeas, urfa spice, lime.”

Perhaps 10 minutes later, it arrived: A ceramic dish shaped like a canoe cradled a pile of hot chickpeas, plump and swimming in a dark, almost reddish broth, slick and fragrant. I ripped off a piece of fire-singed flatbread, dipped it into the chickpea bath, and took a bite. A touch of warm spice hit my nose first. Then: peppery and sweet long-cooked garlic, a bright tingle of lime juice and, finally, the unmistakable richness of butter.

When I saw a preview of “Maydan” last year, I was delighted to see that the dango recipe was included. I made it immediately, and couldn’t wait to write about it. The other day, I reached Previte by phone to chat about it.

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“I love that you were drawn to the dango recipe!” she said. “More people need to know about the food of Oman.” I asked how she learned to make the dish: “In 2018, I found ‘’ by Felicia Campbell,” Previte said, “and as far as I could tell, it was the only English-language cookbook about Omani food. Everything we made from it was incredible. ‘Well,’ I told my team, ‘we have to go to Oman.’”

Campbell helped them plan an eating tour that involved several home kitchens. In one, deep in the desert, Previte and her chefs cooked with the grandmothers, mothers and aunts of a Bedouin family. When the feast was presented, lavish platters of meat and rice filled the table. But there was also a large bowl of dango, and though the chickpeas looked especially humble next to the other dishes, Previte was drawn to them. “They were so simple, but special because of the play of garlic and lime,” Previte said.

She can’t quite remember whether that host family included butter in their dango, or whether, when her crew returned to D.C., they experimented with that addition. Either way, it’s become an essential element in Maydan’s version.

To make dango, you saute garlic in butter until it softens, then add a bit of Aleppo pepper and , letting the spice tint the fat maroon. Add chickpeas — Previte recommends you use dried and par-cooked chickpeas here, but canned work just as well — water, lime juice, salt and pepper, and simmer until the legumes pick up all of those flavors, plump up and turn into puddles of silk when smashed against the roof of your mouth. To serve, spoon the chickpeas and their broth into a bowl, and top with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a pinch or two of ground sumac.

“You could serve them over rice, or with the Omani shrimp dish in the book, or just something green,” Previte says. “But for a simple meal at home, I’d serve them in bowls with a pile of flatbread for dipping.”

That’s how I like eating them myself, with an extra squeeze of lime. If you’re eating with me, you might even hear me go mmm.

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