Swiss chard, chickpea and tamarind stew

February 15, 2012

Swiss chard, chickpea and tamarind stew

Page 148, Ottolenghi

Have Plenty, will travel!

I took my year of Plenty on the road tonight and made dinner for one of my favorite families – the Moores at Many Hands House. I knew that the occasion called for tasty vegetarian goodness, and the swiss chard, chickpea, and tamarind stew seemed perfect. I showed up at their house with a few bags of groceries and the *amazing* Zojirushi rice cooker that a group of friends got me for my 40th birthday. The rice cooker sang us it’s little song and got to work on the rice, while Melanie and I consulted Ottolenghi’s Plenty to see what needed to happen first.


Well, first meaning after I had a chance to meet the bunny Atticus, smooch on all the kiddos that would let me, observe the rats, discuss politics and other important things with Chris and Melanie, watch the boys make a stop-action test film for their upcoming competition (fabulous and totally blue-ribbon worthy), and marvel at the amazing life that they all continue to create.

As their blog puts it : “What do you get when you have two people madly in love, 7 children, one giant dog and heaps of fun? Many Hands House! Check back often and watch us cook vegan food, home school, catch babies, role-play, belly dance and practice that Old Time religion, all in a log cabin in Iowa.”. I do so love getting to be a part of their world for an evening, so the cooking was interspersed with all kinds of good conversation, a brief appearance by Annie, and some kids so cute that it almost hurts.

The cooking was fairly easy and the flavors were bold. The whole house smelled delicious and the stew came together pretty quickly. And a pretty bowl of stew it was. We added cilantro and greek yogurt to it at the end, and served it over rice. Morgan had never had greek yogurt before, and decided it tasted like goat cheese – a fairly fabulous comparison for an 10 (11?) year old to make.  All of the kids seemed to love the dish — a testament to palates that are used to trying new things regularly, one of my favorite family traits. 



Thanks for a fabulous night, Moores! I look forward to more Plenty with you all soon. ❤


Swiss Chard, Chickpea and Tamarind Stew
Serves 4, adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty


  • 1 lb swiss chard (stalks and leaves), cut into 3/8-inch slices
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 14 oz canned chopped plum tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and boiled (or 2 cans chickpeas)
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 3 tbsp tamarind paste
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • cilantro
  • rice
  • greek yogurt
  1. Put the onion, caraway seeds and olive oil in a large heavy pan and saute on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden.  Add the tomato paste and stir as you cook it for about a minute.  Add the canned tomatoes, water, sugar, chickpeas, ground coriander, chard and some salt and pepper.
  2. Add the tamarind.  Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes.  When ready, the dish should have the consistency of a thick soup.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the juice of two lemons just before serving.
  3. While the stew is cooking, cook rice and chop cilantro for serving.
  4. When ready to serve, spoon the rice into shallow soup bowl and spoon stew over it.  Finish with greek yogurt and cilantro.

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