June 6, 2010

Indian Chickpea-Rice Casserole

Indian Chickpea-Rice Casserole

Essentially a rice bake with various things mixed in, this casserole is super tasty, super easy to make, and almost seems pretty close to authentic Indian cuisine. Red onions and fresh ginger are sauteed in a pot; next, vegetable broth, basmati rice, chickpeas, currants, carrots, and a roasted spice mixture of cumin seeds and mustard seeds are added. I didn't do any of this cooking in a Dutch oven as the recipe suggests; rather, a medium-sized pot seemed to be more than sufficient. In fact, you probably could leave everything in the pot (I transferred mine to an 8x8-inch baking dish, covered with foil, and baked), bring to boil, then simmer and cover like you would cook rice normally.

But after 45 minutes in the oven, I had a steaming hot and extraordinarily aromatic dish. Perhaps the most noticeable scent (and taste) was the cumin. I'm normally not a HUGE fan of overly cumin-flavored dishes, but this was simply wonderful. I'm guessing because the seeds, and not the ground stuff, were used...and the roasting probably mellowed the flavor a bit. In fact, the cumin was so strong that I could barely tell there was any ginger in the dish, except when I happened to bite into a tiny piece. But when I did, that spicy and pungent flavor was a welcome tastebud sensation. The chickpeas gave the casserole a savory and nutty flavor, which roasted, chopped cashews helped emphasize. Probably my favorite part was the sweet-tangy currants, which were a great complement to the savory and pungent ingredients. The rice was perfectly cooked: moist, tender, and plump. Fresh cilantro added a fresh, tangy herbal note...something great in Indian cuisine.

My only issue with this casserole was that--even aside from all of the strong flavors--there seemed to be something missing. Although the recipe doesn't suggest salt-and-pepper seasoning, I would advise you to. I added 1/4 teaspoon of salt before baking, and I think a little heat would be nice as well...maybe some cayenne, or even minced chilies.

Make again? Yes. Good served as a main course, or maybe as a side with some tandoori or curried tofu. Yum! Oh, and leftovers were even better the next day!

Indian Chickpea-Rice Casserole
Vegetarian Times, March 2006

1 comment:

  1. Visiting your blog is making me crave all these childhood nostalgic food I haven't had for a while...I make this a little differently but I want some chickpeas and rice too!