This recipe, adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, is very much like the Tunisian ragout of Swiss chard and chickpeas called Morshan. The Swiss chard gets meltingly soft and gets infused, along with the chickpeas, with tangy, hearty flavors that are completely unexpected. Morshan is heavy on the garlic and coriander. Here, coriander is still dominant, but caramelized onion replaces garlic; caraway and tamarind form an intriguing undertone.
The caraway most surprised me because I associate it with rye bread, but it is a spice used in the Middle East. Ottolenghi calls for caraway in a few of his recipes, including his barley risotto (Jerusalem).
Swiss Chard, Chickpea and Tamarind Stew
Adapted very, very loosely from Yotam Ottlenghi’s recipe for Swiss Chard, Chickpea and Tamarind Stew from Ottolenghi’s Plenty (originally, the recipe appeared in his column for the Guardian). I skipped the following steps from the original recipe: toasting and grinding coriander seeds, blanching the Swiss chard, and stewing and straining tamarind pulp. I used much less liquid and more tomato paste than the original recipe calls for and I left out the added sugar.
I used half a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes instead of a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes because diced tomatoes never really dissolve into sauce the way that whole tomatoes do. Food Network’s guide to canned tomatoes notes: “For a smoother sauce, avoid diced canned tomatoes. Calcium chloride is often added as a firming agent, which limits the tomatoes’ ability to break down during cooking.“
The second time I made this, I used collard greens instead of the chard and used a whole 28 ounce can of tomatoes. That was good, too.
I used a concentrated tamarind paste. If you are using tamarind sauce, you might need to add more to get the right amount of tanginess.
In a Dutch oven or large, heavy pan, sauté onions with caraway until the onions are golden:
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 ½ Tbl. olive oil
Add the tomato paste and stir for a minute:
1 Tbl. tomato paste
Add and stir the mixture until the Swiss chard collapses and softens:
14 ounces canned tomatoes with juice
1 lb. Swiss chard, sliced ½” wide
14 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 tsp. ground coriander
salt, pepper, to taste
Add and simmer on low 15 minutes:
1 tsp. concentrated tamarind paste (or lemon juice)
Ottolenghi says to add lemon juice before serving this over rice. He suggests serving this topped with yogurt and fresh cilantro.