Spring Curry

This spring curry features POD-grown Swiss chard, bay, and Thai chilies. Serves 6-8.

spring curry ingredients
spring curry ingredients

2 chicken breasts, rinsed and cut into 1″ cubes
3/4 lb potatoes, parboiled cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 tsp saffron
4 tbs heavy cream
4 tbs canola oil
12 cardamom pods
4 cinnamon sticks
6 bay leaves
4 bird chilies (or to taste), minced
3 large shallots, sliced
2 tbs ginger, minced
8 cloves garlic (or to taste), minced
4 tbs whole almonds
2 tbs ground coriander
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp salt
1 c. chicken stock (or water)
1 c. buttermilk (or yogurt)
10 oz chard, sliced
2 c. peas

RICE
1 1/2 c. basmati, well-rinsed
3 c. water (or stock/water combo)
6 cardamom pods

1) Heat cream, add saffron. Set aside to steep.
2) Heat oil over medium high in Dutch oven, add the cardamom, cinnamon, and bay. Stir until they begin to release yummy smells. About a minute. Add chicken pieces and cook until barely not pink. Remove the chicken and set it aside. Leave as many of the spices in the pot as you can.
2b) Stick the rice, cardamom pods, and water/stock combo in a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 17-20 minutes until done.
3) Add the shallots to the sizzling spices and fry until they’re reddish brown. You may want to increase the heat a touch. Add the garlic, ginger, and Thai chilies and fry for an additional minute. Reduce heat a bit. Add the almonds, coriander, cumin, cayenne, salt, and turmeric. Stir for a few seconds. Avoid coughing into the spice cloud.
4) Add the chicken stock and buttermilk or yogurt. Scape all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer. It should be fairly liquidy. Add a little more yogurt or buttermilk to suit your tastes.
5) Toss in the chicken, chard, potatoes, and peas. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
6) Stir in saffron cream mixture.
7) Serve over rice. Try not to eat the cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks.

Swiss Chard and Preserved Lemons

It’s so ridiculously satisfying to climb up the sladder, pick chard, climb down, chop it,  throw some other stuff in a pan, and eat. Of course, you’ll need to have made the preserved lemons two months ago, but still. Good stuff. If you don’t have preserved lemons lounging in your fridge like some food nerds do, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of coriander and cinnamon also happens to be pretty darn tasty.

swiss chard with preserved lemons
swiss chard with preserved lemons

Swiss Chard and Preserved Lemons
1 bunch swiss chard (about 6-8 stalks), chopped
1 tbs olive oil
a slosh of sherry vinegar (about 2-3 tbs, depending on taste)
¼ preserved lemon (pulp removed and well-rinsed), chopped finely
black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

1) Heat olive oil
2) Drop in chard
3) Sauté for a few minutes, until leaves have wilted
4) Add vinegar to hot pan, swirl until it mostly disappears
5) Remove from heat and stir in chopped preserved lemon and pepper

Preserved Lemons
Quoted directly from: Casa Moro (2004) by Sam and Sam Clark

Preserved lemons are a great feature of North African cooking, especially in Morocco. They have a strong, distinctive flavour used to give character to tagines (stews), sauces, fish dishes and salads

10 organic lemons, washed and drained
1 kg (2.2 lbs)
3 cinnamon sticks, broken up roughly
1 tbs coriander seeds
1tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cloves
5 small dried red chilies
5 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
juice of 8 extra lemons

Make a cross in the top of each lemon and continue to cut until two-thirds the way day. Open out slightly, pushing some salt inside each one and press together again. In a large, sterilized preserving jar about 1.5 litres, alternate the salt with the spices ad the lemons so that everything is more or less evenly packed in the jar. Press down on the lemons to help extrude some of the juice. Pour on the extra lemon juice to cover completely. Close the jar and leave at room temperature for about 2 months, or until the skins are soft all the way through. When you are ready to use a lemon, remove it from the jar, rinse under cold water to remove any excess salt, pull out and discard the pulp, then chop the skin as desired. Preserved lemons are deceptive in their strength, so only the smallest amounts will b e necessary in most recipes: although it may seem like nothing, beware of adding more. The lemons should keep for up to a year in the fridge.

Container Gardening: Making the Most of It

Philly gardeners should check out the Pennsylvania Horticultural society’s City Gardening Series workshops. They’re free and full of useful tips. For example, POD discovered that early on in the season container gardeners  can cram their pots with all sorts of greenery.

Cucumbers and Swiss Chard
Cucumbers and Swiss Chard

So, with that in mind, this 5-gallon bucket is sprouting 3 cucumbers (two Space Masters, from D. Landreth Seed Company and one lemon cucumber snitched from my mother’s supply). The Swiss chard seedlings came from Moore’s Greenhouses, a small family-owned operation in West Deptford, New Jersey.

While the cucumbers are still wee we can enjoy all the chard we want. I’ll just yank them when the space masters need a little more space.