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Golden chickpea and curried lamb pilaf.With this dish, we're in back-to-basics mode. What is a rice pilaf if not a pre-modern-era rice bowl? This preparation is hearty enough for main-course fare, with possible leftovers that taste swell at room temperature.

The caramelized tomatoes are a nice component and call for low-maintenance multitasking while the pilaf is cooking.

We cooked this in a wok, which made for easy additions and stirrings of ingredients.

Serve with a green salad.

Adapted from The Amazing World of Rice, With 150 Recipes for Pilafs, Paellas, Puddings and More, by Marie Simmons (William Morrow, 2003).

6 servings

Ingredients

• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 6 small plum tomatoes (may substitute Kumato tomatoes)

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed, freshly ground black pepper

• ½ medium onion

• 1 medium carrot, scrubbed well

• 1 medium clove garlic

• 425 grams canned, no-salt-added chickpeas, with their liquid

• water, ½ kg lean ground lamb

• 1½ cups medium-grain white rice

• ¼ cup dried currants

• 2 teaspoons Madras-style curry powder

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin, cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional).

Steps

• Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

• Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise, arranging them cut side up in the skillet. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook undisturbed for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomato skins are blackened and blistered.

• Meanwhile, cut the onion and carrot into ½ cm dice. Mince the garlic. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, reserving their liquid in a large measuring cup; add enough water to yield a total of 3 cups.

• Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the ground lamb in pinches, then add the chickpeas. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any large clumps of meat, until the chickpeas are lightly browned and beginning to pop. (It's okay if the lamb is not quite cooked through at this point.)

• Carefully turn the tomatoes over in the skillet; season lightly with salt and pepper on the second side. Cook undisturbed for 5 to 8 minutes, until browned.

• Add the onion, carrot and garlic to the lamb-chickpea mixture; cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the rice, currants, curry powder and cumin, stirring to incorporate.

• Pour the water-chickpea liquid into the lamb-rice mixture and add ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, stir once, then reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. If the rice is still chewy by the time the liquid has been absorbed, add up to ½ cup more water. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

• Transfer the pilaf to a deep serving platter or divide it among individual wide, shallow bowls. Spoon some tomatoes at the edges. Garnish with cilantro leaves (whole or torn), if using, and serve.

• Nutrition Per serving (without the tomatoes): 530 calories, 20 g protein, 58 g carbohydrates, 23 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fibre, 5 g sugar

Bonnie S. Benwick – The Washington Post
Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey

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