Swiss Chard and Chickpea Rice Pilaf


One of the cuisines that I most love and that is not well known in the Western hemisphere is the Kurdish cuisine. I’m partially of Kurdish decent. Both my paternal grandpa and my maternal grandma were Kurdish. I loved spending time with my beloved grandma who, among many things, introduced me to Kurdish dishes and taught me how to prepare them.

Kurdish food is poor peoples’ food. It includes simple and cheap ingredients, but thanks to different cooking techniques, Kurdish people created a somewhat complex and varied cuisine.

Some classic Kurdish dishes call for sour, garlicky flavors, and include rice and green leaves that were probably picked in the mountains of Kurdistan. The dish below is not a classic Kurdish dish (although it could very well be). It is a dish I came up with for my vegetarian cooking class, using Kurdish flavors and ingredients. What I most like about this dish is that it is super easy to make, but the result is very rich and complex in flavor without having to use special techniques.

¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch (4 packed cups) Swiss chard chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups (15oz can) cooked chickpeas without the liquid
1 cup rice
3 cups water
1 tbs. chicken soup flavor powder
1/4 tsp citric acid or lemon juice from ½ lemon
Salt, pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onion and sauté until onion is golden brown. Add the Swiss chard and garlic, and sauté for two minutes.

Add the chickpeas and the rice and stir well.

Add the water, the chicken soup powder, salt, pepper, and citric acid. Give the mixture another stir and bring to a boil.

Cover and let cook for 20-25 minutes, on low heat, until the water is completely absorbed in the rice.

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