Swiss Chard has to be one of my most cherished culinary discoveries in California. This leafy vegetable comes in a myriad of colors with the stalks ranging from a deep red to a warm yellow. The large leaves are a refreshing green and when available fresh in the local farmer's market make a dramatic entry in your grocery list! I cannot even begin to describe how nutritious this vegetable is. Check out my link above to whfoods.com for a complete nutritional profile of chard. This vegetable pairs very well with rice and I tried a wonderful combination of swiss chard with green onions to make this rice dish that literally invites you to the dinning table. You can serve this rice dish as a hearty main course with traditional Indian pickle (I recommend products from chef Sanjeev Kapoor's new line of pickles available at any Indian grocery store if you do not make your own at home) and a yogurt based raita.
For this dish you will need:
1/2 bunch of swiss chard and green onions each, chopped, retaining the stalks of the chard.
1 cup white basmati rice.
3 tbsp peanut powder (made with roasted, unsalted peanuts in a food processor).
1/2 tbsp tamarind paste or lemon juice.
1 tbsp dark brown sugar.
1 tsp asafoetida.
1 tsp mustard seeds and cumin seeds each.
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
Salt to taste
Canola oil for cooking.
1 tsp ghee (optional).
Precook the rice to get a fluffy texture. Parboil the chard, draining out the water and set aside. This removes acids as mentioned on whfoods.com
In a large wok or kadhai, heat about 1 to 2 tbsp of oil. When the oil is heated, add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they crackle and the asafoetida and turmeric. Saute the spices briefly. Now add the chopped green onion and saute for about two minutes. The onion should sweat. At this time, add the par boiled chard and keep stirring until the green onion and chard mix. Reduce the heat setting to low-medium at this point. The vegetables should not get mushy. Finally, add the red chilli powder, salt, sugar and peanut powder. Stir thoroughly. Add the lemon juice or tamarind paste. Mix thoroughly with the remaining ingredients in the wok.
With a fork, fluff the cooked rice and then add it to the wok. Mix thoroughly with the vegetables in the wok. If available at the very end, add the ghee to the rice. This will help keep the individual rice grains from collapsing into each other.
If chard is not available in your local markets, try this rice recipe with other leafy greens such as beetroot greens or spinach leaves.