Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Swiss chard with lentils (chana dal)

I like Swiss chard as a green and use them wherever I would reach for spinach. It is a little heartier than spinach and I particularly like the red Swiss chard since it gives a beautiful red hue to the dish. Chana dal are split garbonzo beans which have a toothsome texture if not overcooked and together with Swiss chard creates this wholesome dish to be eaten with rice or couscous.
I have used Indian spices to make this dish, but you could very easily take it Mediterranean and use a combination of oregano, thyme or basil with some garlic and chili flakes and come up with something similar but with a different flavor profile.

Swiss chard with lentils

½ cup chana dal soaked for 2 hours with warm water
1 ¼ cup chopped plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bunch – about 6 large leaves of organic red Swiss chard
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon dry mango powder
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar

1. Separate the Swiss chard leaves from the stems and chop the stems into ¼ inch pieces. The leaves can be stacked, rolled and cut into julienne.
2. Heat a large saut̩ pan with canola oil. While the oil is coming to temperature, drain the chana dal. Add the cumin seeds to the hot oil Рafter 30 seconds, add the chana dal. Saut̩ for 2 minutes over medium high heat Рthe dal would have gotten a little golden around the edges.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook covered over medium heat for 5 minutes.
4. Add the chopped Swiss chard stems with 2 cups warm water and coriander powder, cayenne and salt and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.
5. Now add the julienned leaves and stir well. Cook uncovered for another 10 minutes over medium heat. By now the chana dal should be cooked but still have a bite – we do not soft dal for this dish. If it is too hard, add another ¼ cup warm water and cook another 5 minutes or till the chana dal is cooked.
6. Finally add the dry mango powder and sugar. Stir and cook for another minute. The final dish should not be dry and nor like a soup – it should have a light gravy.
7. Serve with rice, couscous or even pita.
Serves 3

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