People, let’s talk about Ginger. See how I capitalized it just there? That’s because I have recently discovered a love for it thanks to this pilaf. You see garlic and I – we are tight – in my mind it goes with everything – well, almost everything. I went to this restaurant in San Francisco once called the Stinking Rose where each dish has garlic in it. Even the desserts. That I was not such a fan of. Anyway, back to Ginger with a capital G. I realize that it has a purpose and therefore I use it quite frequently in my food, but I do the same with cloves and would never eat one of those babies.
What I think makes the ginger flavor so beautiful in this dish is that you thinly slice your peeled ginger and then stir fry it in a little oil until it has delicate golden brown edges and a gentler perfume than I typically associate with this potent root. The ginger then becomes part of the base for the ‘broth’ that the rice gets cooked in and just gives the dish a very light, but unusual note that is so addictive that I actually wolfed down two sizable portions in a row and then realized I literally could not move from the couch. Really. The TV remote was far from me too (a whole 5 feet), thankfully my phone was nearby *phew*
Chickpea Pilaf/ Chanon Wale Chawal
Serves 4-6 depending on portion size
1 can chickpeas
2 cups rice (washed and soaked in warm water)
1 to 2 ” piece of ginger
1 small to medium onion
1/2 tsp whole pepper
1/2 ” of a cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom (omit if you do not have it)
Salt to taste
Drain the can of chickpeas into a sieve or a colander and run water over it to wash off the liquid from the can. Now finely slice your onions and then peel and finely slice your ginger. As a quick note, last time when I made this dish I grated my ginger into it and it was far too strong for my liking. Slicing seems to be the way to go. It does mean that you will have pieces of ginger in your pilaf, but that does not really bother me so much. The extra yumminess more than makes up for it.
Heat enough oil in your pot just to cover the bottom. We want as little as possible here, too much will make this pilaf heavy and greasy. Now add your cloves, peppers, cinnamon, and black cardamom (if using) and stir fry for a few seconds. Add in your pieces of ginger and let those fry until the edges become brown and the ginger loses its raw looking yellowness. Add your sliced onion and cook until the edges are golden brown, we do not want to brown the onions here. For one it will detract from the light flavors of this dish and for another browning takes more time and oil. Let’s take the easier, healthier way out on this one 🙂
What happened to this picture you may ask? I am not sure, sometimes my phone fails me. Yes, I use my phone for all the pictures.
Once the onions are looking good add your chickpeas and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add your rice and enough water so that it covers your rice and goes a little less than an inch over. Now it is time to add salt. So here’s the thing – how much salt you add will have much to do with how salty your chickpeas are. I used what I think was a fairly standard can of chickpeas (not as salty as some) and I put about 2 teaspoons. Stir gently to make sure the salt is incorporated throughout and bring the rice to a boil on medium high heat. Now I find rice to be extremely tricky to cook sometimes, but what I do find works is if I boil the rice so that the water evaporates out and then cover the dish and cook it on very low heat until my rice is tender. If you have a better way then go for it. Also, please please share it with me. As another quick tip I am always a little nervous about the saltiness of pilafs cooked this way, under-salted and they simply flop. Now what I do is when the water evaporates I usually try a little rice, it is not cooked all the way through at that point, but there is no danger associated with trying it and adjusting the seasoning if needed. Far more dangerous to let me cook bad food especially when there is Nutella in the house.
Check on your rice about 7-10 minutes after you cover it, if it is not done then cover it again and cook for a few minutes more. I added the green chilies for fun, but they are not a part of the dish per se.
Serve with raita (seasoned yogurt), achar (pickle), or chutney of choice. I had made a quick raita of yogurt, chopped cilantro, red chili powder and salt. It is great with plain yogurt as well.