This Spring I craved the sweet, smoky spices and hot ginger of traditional Indian cuisine, but was trying to cut back on dairy and carbs. Luckily, my garden provided an embarrassment of Swiss Chard and I experimented with spices that would satisfy my craving healthily. This dish is sweet from the cardamon and coriander and packs a heady heat from ginger. Toast and grind your own spices if you can to maximize the flavor.
This dish is delicious as a simple meal over rice with a dollop of yoghurt, but I like to serve it as an accompaniment to simple grilled fish. I served it twice to chard-skeptics and they came back for thirds! —lloreen
green cardamon pods, seeds only
cayenne (to taste)
large onion, finely chopped
fresh ginger, finely chopped
cloves of garlic, finely chopped
large tomatoes, roughly chopped
chard stems, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
chard leaves, rolled like cigars and cut in thin strips
In a dry hot pan, toast your cumin, coriander, and cardamon, agitating the pan constantly until the pods begin to brown and smell toasted. Be careful to remove them before they burn.
Grind all your spices in a mortar or spice grinder.
In a large pan with a fitted lid, heat your oil or ghee over medium low heat. Add the onion, stirring to coat with the fat, then let it cook slowly until translucent and the bottom layer begins to caramelize, about 20 minutes
Add the ginger and garlic and stir 60 seconds
Turn the heat up to medium.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and spice mixture.
Cover and let simmer until the tomatoes break apart easily with a wooden spoon and begin to look like a sauce. (about 5-10 mins)
--You can make the dish up to this point up to 24 hours ahead and then reheat and proceed at dinner.
Add the chard stems and simmer, uncovered until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
Add the chard leaves, cover, and let simmer until the leaves wilt (2-3 minutes)