Stew as the Wife of the Cordoban Farmer Would Make It

This delicious winter stew from Córdoba in Andalusia is called olla cortijera de Córdoba in Spanish and is long simmered cabbage and chickpea stew.

Andalusians are quite fond of cumin as a spice. The plant was brought to Spain from North Africa and entered the cuisine. The famous Spanish Arab agronomist Ibn al-‘Awwam, who flourished in the twelfth century, wrote extensively about growing cumin.*

This one-pot farm meal with the distinctive smell and taste of cumin, an olla from the hilly farmlands around Córdoba, is an example of the simplest of preparations from the farmer’s wife, from cocina pobre, the cuisine of the poor, although even wealthy peasants probably ate the same, or at least fed it to their farm hands. This stew can be frozen and is excellent later in the week.

* Ibn al-‘Awwam [fl. 12th century], Kitab al-filaha. Translated as Le livre de l’agriculture. J.-J. Clément-Mullet, trans. 2nd ed. Tunis: Editions Bouslama, 1977, vol. 2, 242-44.

Olla Cortijera de Córdoba
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Stew
Cuisine: Andalusian
Serves: 8 servings
  • 5 quarts cold water
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas (about 1 pound), soaked in cold water to cover overnight and drained
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds
  • ½ pound Irish or Canadian bacon, diced
  • 1 green cabbage (about 1¾ pounds), cored and chopped
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a stew pot. Add the drained chickpeas, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, and cumin. Reduce the heat to medium and after add the bacon after 2 hours. Cook until the chickpeas are soft, about another hour.
  2. Add the cabbage to the pot and cook for 1 hour. Taste and correct the seasoning and serve.


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