This recipe came about by trying to recreate the taste of one of the best meals of my life - and it has been quite successful if I say so myself! Heavily spiced but not spicy, sweet but not cloying, this is a firm favourite. It can be made ahead of time, though I would recommend only stirring in the cooked rice and soy sauce at the earliest an hour before serving. —Hannah Mark
olive or coconut oil, divided
(or more to taste) each caraway, fennel and coriander seeds
(aka 1 cup) cooked chickpeas (canned, or freshly cooked from 120g dry)
Heat 1 tbsp oil on a medium-high heat and fry the whole spices for about a minute, or until they become fragrant. Then add the chickpeas, a few dashes of salt, and the ground spices. Toss to coat the chickpeas and cook for a further few minutes, until everything is browned and smells toasty. Put the chopped herbs in the bowl you want to serve the pilaf in, then pour the chickpeas over the top, so they absorb all the herby aroma and the herbs stick to them.
Heat the remaining oil on a medium heat and add about half the onion (so as not to crowd the pan - it works out, trust me). Caramelise until lightly golden and stringy, then add the rest of the onion and do the same.
Don't worry about the onion burning - the black bits where the onion catches are what make it delicious. If you notice this happening, add a litte water and scrape up the black bits.
Meanwhile, soak the dried fruit in some hot water. You can use that water to keep the onions from sticking if you need to - just keeps some of it for the next step.
Once the onions are all nice and jammy, add the dried fruit (and the remaining soaking water). Then add the cooked rice to warm it through. Stir in the tamari/soy sauce.
Transfer everything into your serving bowl and toss thoroughly.