01 November 2011

Chickpea & Cardamom Rice with Carrots and Za'atar Oil

Busy, busy.

I know we're all busy, and I usually shy away from using it as an excuse. After all, we make time for the things we care about. But really. There's *normal* busy, and then there's or busyy, or bizzy, or bizzay. I've been bizzay. Truefact.

One of the million things I've done recently is move into a new flat. It took me ages to settle in. Between other things keeping me occupied (wedding festivities, research, teaching, friends, dating), I haven't really had a moment to spare. I'm not complaining - I have a very full life, and I wouldn't trade any bit of it! But, I lived in my flat for three whole weeks before it felt like home. And until I settled in here, my kitchen mojo was nowhere to be found. I ate cheese and crackers for lunch the entire first week. It felt like I was cooking and eating in a stranger's house - except that all my stuff was here. Weird.

Finally, finally. A good meal. I'm back, baby!

This, incidentally, is a great meal if you're busy. It's got it all - carbs to keep you going, protein in those pulses, vitamins in the carrots, and some healthy fat in the yogurt. It's a one-dish, working lunch kind of thing. It's food that works just as hard as you do.

I found za'atar, after a long search, at a local foodie deli here in town. Za'atar features in Middle Eastern cooking, and it's a blend of sumac, thyme and sesame seeds. It's amazing. It tastes really earthy, with a sweet-salty combination that makes me very happy. I imagine it could take just about anything up a notch.

Chickpea & Cardamom Rice with Carrots and Za'atar Oil

250g white basmati rice
some olive oil to sauté
1/2 small onion, sliced
vegetable stock
2 medium carrots, grated
8 cardamom pods
200g cooked chickpeas
2 tea za'atar
2 tablespoons olive oil
full-fat greek yogurt, for serving

Place uncooked rice in a sieve and rinse until water runs clear; set aside to drain. Saute onion in a little olive oil, about 2 tablespoons, until beginning to soften. Add rice and continue to cook, stirring, until rice has begun to gain a little colour. Meanwhile, smash cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle, remove seeds and discard pods. Add vegetable stock to the pot along with grated carrots and cardamom seeds. Steam/cook until rice is done. Set aside to steam an additional 10 minutes before continuing.

While rice is steaming, prepare za'atar oil by mixing za'atar with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Add cooked chickpeas to the rice and toss together. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt, drizzle za'atar oil over top.

The end. Serves 4.