Who doesn’t love a good home-cooked meal? There’s something about eating food fresh from the kitchen that feels like a hug on the inside. But, more often than not, making dinner is the last thing I want to do after getting home from a long day at work. I’ve been on the lookout for nutritious yet fast meals in Ottawa that don’t cost a fortune. And that’s when I came across Chickpeas.
Chickpeas boasts a fully vegan menu that centers around – you guessed it – chickpeas. They use organic chickpeas to make from-scratch falafel and hummus in unique flavours. They also serve a variety of freshly-made sandwiches, soups, and salads.
I wandered into Chickpeas for the first time last summer, looking for a quick bite to eat. Neither a vegan nor vegetarian, I was – admittedly – a little skeptical of how satisfying my meal could be. Halfway through eating it, my doubts went out the window. Our group of three split a sandwich, tabbouleh, falafel and a hummus platter with a side of pita. We were bursting and had to take some leftovers home (no complaints there!). It was filling but, at the same time, didn’t give us that heavy, bloated feeling people often associate with fast food eateries.
Since that first fateful summer’s day, I’ve gone back a handful of times and the staff always greets me with a smile. I also noticed that they actively check the water and utensil station, and clean off empty tables – it’s these little things that make the atmosphere so much more inviting for customers (and you know I love great customer service). Kudos to the employees!
Behind the scenes
I sat down with Chickpeas‘ owner, Omer, to chat about his inspiration behind Ottawa’s first falafel and hummus eatery. Attending high school in Saudi Arabia, he grew up eating a lot of falafel and hummus. However, it was his 7-month residency in the capital of cuisine, Lyon, France, that sparked his passion for food.
When he moved back to Ottawa, his food aspirations came with him and he realized that there was a void in the Ottawa food scene. A void that he decided to fill with his twist on falafel and hummus.
Using his background in marketing, he spent a year researching food trends, the North American restaurant industry, and his target demographics’ eating habits. He then moved to Lebanon for a month to learn his craft. He went door-to-door, offering to clean floors and dishes until one restaurateur accepted his offer. It was at this restaurant where he learned how to peel chickpeas, cook chickpeas and everything in between. After his training, he developed his own unique recipes and menu.
His dedication and planning culminated in Chickpeas opening its doors in 2016.
From the menu
Chickpeas proudly serves fresh food – nothing is prepackaged, frozen, or canned. It’s all prepped and cooked in their open kitchen, from soaking thousands of chickpeas overnight, to boiling or roasting their own vegetables in the morning. There are no artificial flavours because Omer is committed to bringing out the taste of food the way it’s supposed to be. It’s no surprise that my go-to menu favourites are made from natural ingredients.
1) I always share a hummus platter with my friends when I visit and we each take turns taste testing and picking favourites. The beet and roasted red pepper hummus are my two absolute standouts.
2) I never leave without having their falafel, whether it’s in a sandwich, in (fa)waffle form, or just their “original” donut-shaped falafel. Personally, I love just getting a little bowl of their classic falafel with a bit of tahini. It’s served warm, crispy, and a with touch of herby goodness – it hits the perfect note. They’re made fresh with a special blend of chickpeas, vegetables, and herbs and spices, then fried on the spot.
3) The black and mint tea (also a homemade blend!) serves as a really nice, clean finish to the meal.
Okay, I’ve made my case. If you’re in the Ottawa area, do yourself a favour and give this place a try! If you keep reading below, I may even be able to help you out with that…
This brings me to my first foodie giveaway! Chickpeas is giving away a $25 gift card to one of my readers!*
How can you win? It’s simple: comment on this blog post to earn yourself three entries. For even more chances to win, find my Chickpeas post on Instagram and follow the instructions there. Contest ends April 3, 2018.
*You must reside in Ottawa to redeem this prize.