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Rice and Chickpeas: a Recipe with a Story

Rice and Chickpeas casserole is one of the best dishes of the Jewish cuisine, and there’s also a nice story behind it. Zeev Galili, our dad, writes about it’s origins and gives the only true recipe.

Every ethnic dish has a reason. The motivation behind it’s invention could be religious, historical, social, economical etc. – but there’s always a “reason” and there’s always a story.

For example, have you ever wondered how and why was Gefilte Fish (stuffed fish) invented? The fascinating answer is that separating the fish from it’s bones in Sabbath is forbidden according to the Halacha (Jewish law). This dish of sliced fish, stuffed with soft burger made out of minced fish, was originally made as a solution to this religious challenge.

Also, Cholent (also called “Chamin”, meat and legume stew traditionally eaten on the Sabbath), was invented as a solution for the law that forbids setting up fire during Sabbath. So it’s pot simply stands over a low heated warming tray or in a low heated oven, until the Cholent is served. The side effect to this process is a wonderful taste and an unbelievably good smell.

From Cholent to Tahini

In our house on Safed (Zefat, an ancient city in northern Israel) the Cholent was the special expertise of my grandmother. She would skillfully make the coals in our charcoals oven, so that when by the commencement of the Sabbath only hot ashes would remain, unto which she would put the Cholent pot.

By Sabbath at noon the Cholent was ready to eat, treasuring a delicacy within a delicacy – a bag of rice and lentils, cooked in the middle of the bubbling stew.

Coming back from the synagogue, we had to wait anxiously for the dinning table to be set up. On this giant table, covered with a white tablecloth, our family and our Sephardic neighbors would put dozens of salads, fish, tahini and than – the Cholent.

Since setting up such a table takes a considerable amount of time, and we were always famished after the morning prayer, my mom would also make Rice and Chickpea casserole – a wonderful delicacy which tastes good hot or cold, and always helped keeping us away from the table, just for a while.

Rice and Chickeas Recipe

2 cups dry chickpeas (small)
2 cups rice
6 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cups water
Salt, pepper

1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in a large bowl with a lot of water. Rinse well and cook for 1-1.5 hours until soft (about 20-30 minutes in a pressure cooker).
2. Rinse and rub the rice until the water are clear, the sieve and leave to dry on a clean towel.
3. Put the olive oil in a large pot, heat and than throw the garlic cloves in. Fry for a second and take off the stove. Let it chill.
4. Add the dry rice into the pot and put it back on the stove on a small-medium flame. Stir slowly and make sure the rice is covered with oil and nothing gets burnt.
5. Add the water, salt and pepper, and cook on a small flame until all water is absorbed the rice is soft (15-25 minutes). If you need to add water during the cooking, be sure to use boiling water.

3 Comments on Rice and Chickpeas: a Recipe with a Story

  1. Absolutely delish! Thanks for another amazing chickpea recipe!

  2. Where do the chickpeas enter this dish ? Do you stick them into the rice as it is cooking, do you mix ready cooked rice with ready cooked chickpeas ?

    I cannot find the true story of this dish as explained by your father – although I enjoyed his blog very much. plese tell me where to find it.

    Many thanks and keep writing. We say in Portugal – Filho de peixe sabe nadar/ the offspring of fish know how to swim – and you are a credit to your father, although not at his level… yet ! 🙂

  3. Hi. Just found this website today and am LOVING it! With this recipe, I do not understand what to do with the chick peas after Step 1. Please help. thank you.

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