Swiss Chard and Chickpea Curry by Marshfield Organic Foods

Due to the extraordinary weather in February when temperatures soared we are lucky enough to see a few green shoots in the garden. The Swiss Chard or silver beet is one of those appearing now and how welcome it is! I think it is a universal type of plant that grows where nothing else is sprouting as there are recipes to use it all over the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent.

This is a pretty adaptable recipe – if you don't have all the whole spices listed just use what you have – although the finished dish won't have the same nuances of flavour - the key one is cumin. Likewise, the sweet spices could be substituted for a level teaspoon of garam masala. Importantly this does not have to be a hot dish so you can omit the chilli flakes (or double them!) to your own taste.

What You Need: 
  • 85g of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight or 1 400g jar precooked chickpeas
  • 150g onion
  • 250g Swiss chard
  • 5 plum tomatoes (fresh or from a tin)
  • 25g garlic
  • 30g ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the whole spice mix

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seed
  • ¼ teaspoon black mustard seed
  • ¼ teaspoon black onion seed
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugrek seed
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seed

For the spice powder mix

  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons tumeric
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes (more according to your taste)

For the sweet spice mix

  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 cm stick cinnamon

To garnish

  • Coriander leaf
  • Lemon juice (optional see above)
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup or sugar (optional see above)
What You Do: 
  1. Cut the onion into fine crescent slices.
  2. Take the Swiss chard and separate the thick lower stalks from the green leaves. Cut the stalks crosswise in ½ cm slices. Shred the green parts keeping them separate from the stalks.
  3. Boil the chickpeas in water to cover to a depth of 2 cm until soft. (Omit this step if using precooked ones). Drain and reserve the liquid.
  4. Cut the garlic and ginger into fine dice and then pound with 1 teaspoon of the salt in a pestle and mortar.
  5. Cook the tomatoes and discard the skin (omit this step if using canned) and chop them roughly.
  6. Assemble all 3 of the spice mixes in small containers.

To Cook

  1. Fry the onions in the oil over a low heat until they begin to go translucent. Add the whole spice mix and fry and stir for 2 minutes, then add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for another minute.
  2. Have ready 300ml of the reserved chickpea cooking liquid. Add the chard stalks to the pan along with the powder spice mix. Stir to coat and before the spices start to burn, add the chickpea water. Add the sweet spices and the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle and the liquid to reduce a bit.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas and the shredded chard leaves. Turn these into the mixture until they are wilted and cooked through. Taste, adding the remaining salt if desired and the lemon juice or sugar if using.
  4. Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve.
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