I concocted this as a partner dish to Madhur Jaffry’s Trinidadian beef curry, which is intense, dark, and very, very hot. I wanted something nutritious and filling to go alongside it, but without going down the full-on rice & peas road.
• 1 onion
• 2 sticks of celery
• 1 cup of rice (whichever type you like best – I used basmati)
• 1 can of chickpeas
• Salt and pepper
• Pinch of turmeric
• Vegetable stock, just less than a litre
First of all, I soaked the uncooked rice for a couple of hours, changing the water several times. Apparently this gets rid of the starch and makes for fluffy rice. To be fair, the end result was dead fluffy, so there you are.
Then I diced the onion finely, and set it frying in a glug of olive oil and a little knob of butter, starting with a medium-high heat and stirring continuously for a few minutes, then turning the heat down and putting a lid on the pan to sweat them. I wanted the onion to be practically disintegrating and very sweet, as the plan was to make this rice as simple as possible, so I needed to extract all the flavour from it.
I then took the lid off the pan, maybe 15-20 minutes into cooking the onion, and added the diced celery. There’s no reason for the celery other than the fact that I understand it to take more calories to chew and digest than it imparts, so I try and use it to bulk out all kinds of rice dishes and stocks. I continued to fry the onion and celery, medium-low heat, lid on every so often, for another 10-15 minutes. Around about then I seasoned it pretty heavily with salt and pepper.
Then I added the rice, swirling it around in the pan and fully mixing it with the onion and celery. I fried the rice mixture dry for a couple of minutes, turned the heat up to high, and added the stock. The stock was, as usual, boiling water from the kettle with 2-3 heaped teaspoons of Marigold Bouillon stock powder and a pinch of turmeric powder for colour. Then I added the drained chickpeas, put the lid on, the heat low, and ten minutes or so later it was all done.
Amazingly, given how simple it was, this chickpea rice was amazingly tasty and moreish. So much so that I just had the leftovers on their own for lunch, and the only thing I would have wished for to go with it was more of the same.