Simple recipes are often the most difficult. While large ingredient lists are imposing and can offer the logistical challenge of managing a massive number of ingredients and preparation, a long list of spices often brings with it a strong-enough flavor that it can cover up sub-par technique and preparation. It's ironic, but true. It's easier to get results with complicated recipes. In contrast to that, I'm offering a simple but sublime recipe adapted from Claudia Roden's The Food of Spain. Rather than a curry with a list of 15 spices alone, this is a simple dish prepared from a few ingredients and spiced only with garlic and paprika, and yet the results are fantastic.
1 cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight or 1 15 oz can chickpeas
1/4 cup olive oil
A whole head of garlic
1 cup dried raisins, soaked in water for 20 min
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
5 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
Drain the chickpeas, and bring to a boil in fresh water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, adding 1 tsp salt.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and chop the garlic cloves, and drain the raisins.
Heat the oil in a medium size pot or casserole that can go in the oven. Stir fry garlic and raisins in the oil for 2-3 minutes, until the aroma arises from the garlic. Add paprika and stir well, then add chickpeas, stock and another teaspoon of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the rice. Stir well to achieve a consistent mixture.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the rice is al dente.
Simple, yes. Wholesome, yes. Sublime, yes as well. This is a great, filling Spanish delight that will surprise you with its fantastic taste and elegance. It's as well suited to a dinner party as it is a simple family meal. Enjoy.