Wash and scrape the calf’s feet thoroughly. Blanch them in boiling water until a scum has formed. Throw out the scum and the water.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and turn the feet in it for a minute or so. Add pepper and turmeric, and the drained chickpeas. Cover with water, bring to the boil, and simmer gently for about 4 hours, until the meat is practically falling off the bones. Add salt when the chickpeas are tender.
Bone the feet if you wish, and return the meat to the pan.
Instead of chickpeas, add 1 1/2 pounds cubed or thickly sliced potatoes about 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
Hergma, a Moroccan variation, is spiced with 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper or cayenne, instead of turmeric. A cup of cooked rice is added at the end.
A custom in some families was to add 6 eggs in their shells. They were parboiled separately in water first, to cleanse the shells, then put in at the start of cooking, at the same time as the chickpeas. Before serving, you might like to peel the eggs and return them to the pot to heat through.
A Turkish version called fasulyeli paça is made with white haricot or navy beans instead of chickpeas, and turmeric is not used.