Chickpea and Swiss Chard Stew

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Stew by Sohla El-Waylly

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Stew by Sohla El-Waylly

Ever since Sohla El-Waylly’s genius new cookbook arrived, I’ve been tasting my way through her flavor-packed recipes — think, charred lemon risotto and jammy cookie bars. Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook has also become my go-to reference for base recipes, cooking techniques, and troubleshooting. It’s filled with useful tips like ingredient substitutions and solutions for common mistakes. (The “what the hell happened?” explainers feel like texts from a funny friend who knows exactly why your meringue ended up a goopy mess.)

Most of all, the Chickpea and Swiss Chard Stew has easily risen to weeknight staple status in our house. I love how quickly it comes together with ingredients we usually keep on hand. A true 30-minute meal, it’s great for evenings when we’re pressed for time. But I also like to make it while meal-prepping over the weekend, because the leftovers taste so good, too.

“Chana masala is a spiced chickpea stew and this recipe is one of the many ways my mom made it,” Sohla told me. “Everybody’s mom made a different version — it’s so personal. Once you know the basics, you can make it your own.”

This meal is perfect for when stuff in the fridge is going bad, says Sohla: “When I look at wilted greens, what I see is that they’re halfway to stew, you know?” If needed, she suggests substituting quick-cooking greens or frozen kale or spinach, swapping the chickpeas for cooked kidney or black beans or a half cup of red lentils (“lentils cook so quickly, they’ll be done by the time your greens are cooked”), or simmering the stew in tomato puree, bone broth, or equal parts coconut milk and water.

The key to this stew is to taste and season frequently as it cooks down. Also, when you’re working with spices, consider their freshness, and increase amounts accordingly. “I know, technically, ground spices should be used within six months,” says Sohla. “But I’ve never thrown out a spice. So, if the cumin has been around a bit too long, just double up on it. It’ll be okay.”

Finally, if you’re into meal prepping, too, you can always double the recipe. “You can make a big batch and eat it for a few days,” says Sohla. “The flavors will just deepen.”

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Stew
From Start Here

Says Sohla: Chana masala goes by several names with countless variations: channay, chole masala, chhole masala, chole, chholay, and nowadays, chickpea curry. It originates from South Asia, a diverse region where many languages are spoken, so one dish can have many names or conversely, one name can belong to many dishes. No matter what it’s called, chana masala is made up of spiced and stewed chickpeas that can be brothy enough to spoon over rice or dry and thick enough for scooping up with roti. My simple version gently simmers everything together with just water. This allows the flavors to meld, while the greens wilt down, and the liquid grows thick and creamy from the starch of the chickpeas. Traditionally, stews rich with spices don’t need much browning, which can muddle their intense flavor.

1 large bunch Swiss chard
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, ground
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder or 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons ghee or neutral oil
1 medium yellow, white, or red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 cups drained chickpeas, home-cooked or two 15.5-ounce cans
kosher salt
4 cups water
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter

Strip the leaves off the stems of the Swiss chard. Trim off the dry ends of the stems and cut the stems into bite-sized pieces. Roughly chop the leaves. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, turmeric, chili, cumin and black pepper.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, combine the ghee, onion, garlic, ginger, and Swiss chard stems. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the onions start to frizzle and become golden brown along the edges, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the spice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the chickpeas, a large pinch of salt, and the water. Bring to a simmer and add the Swiss chard leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are tender and the gravy has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the cilantro, lemon juice, and butter. Taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed. Serve over rice with a large dollop of yogurt.

Thank you, Sohla! We love your book!

P.S. Five-ingredient dinners and Yossy Arefi’s monster cookies.

(Photos by Laura Murray for Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook ©2023 by Sohla El-Waylly. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.)

Source – Cup of joy